Day of judgement in Westminster

MPs are hoping today marks the end of the expenses scandal
MPs are hoping today marks the end of the expenses scandal

By Ian Dunt

MPs hoping to put the expenses crisis behind them were given a rude awakening by a series of reports dredging up torrid new details of illegitimate claims today.

Sir Thomas Legg's report into the MPs who abused the expenses system was published at 10:00 GMT, together with an assessment of how much they must repay.

A total of 390 MPs were ordered to pay back £1.3 million, in a report which also contained several new instances of absurd claims.

In a case with overtones of a plot line in Oscar-nominated movie In The Loop, Peter Mandelson was ordered to repay £800 for excessive gardening costs related to an overgrowing tree threatening to bring down a neighbour's wall.

Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, claimed for two £240 Waterford grapefruit bowls while Anthony Steen, the Tory MP who compared his house to Balmoral, claimed £28 for a flagpole rope.

Labour's Barbera Follett suffered the highest demands. She was asked for £42,458.21 after organising mobile security patrols at her house, six separate telephone lines for her second home, an additional insurance premium for fine art, and £193.78 for pest control. She has already paid back £32,976.17 but must cough up a further £9,482.04.

Phil Woolas, immigration minister, was ordered to pay back £886.16 for overpaid mortgage interest and gas charges.

Legg blames parliament, MPs and the Speaker

Click here to read the full report

Click here to read a second official report on MPs' expenses

Click here to see which MPs claimed over £1,000

Click here to see MPs' with outstanding balances

Meanwhile, Sir Paul Kennedy, the man charged with hearing MPs' appeals against Legg, criticised the Legg report for its retrospective approach to expenses today.

The fact that parliament's two investigators submitted contradictory and critical reports today threatened to turn the entire process into farce.

Legg process lambasted by second investigator

In a separate development, Tory MP Anne Main was ordered to apologise to parliament for her expenses claims after an investigation by standards watchdog John Lyon.

Tory MP ordered to pay back £2,100 for food

Another document published by the Commons today revealed which groups MPs had invited into parliament over the last five years.

With full details of the rooms MPs booked out made public, parliamentary critics spent the day obsessively scanning the document for signs of undue influence.

Cameron hosted the Freemasons for tea

Click here to read the full document

But over in the Commons, MPs furiously avoided all mention of the expenses topic.

Sketch: Expenses? What expenses?

The day ended with a statement from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), saying it would announce which MPs and peers, if any, would face charges over more serious expenses claims.

Criminal charges against MPs to be revealed

Sir Ian's public consultation on his draft proposals for parliamentary reform ends next week.


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