Labour MP broke election rules

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Labour confirmed today that one of its MPs had breached regulations on election spending in the 1992 General Election, but insisted he had acted "in good faith".

The controversy surrounds MP for Stoke-on-Trent South George Stevenson and claims that police had been informed about an overspend six years ago.

Mr Stevenson was not available for comment last night, but a Labour Party spokeswoman confirmed that there had been an overspend.

"Clearly the Labour Party cannot condone any breach or the regulations but it appears that, as far as Mr Stevenson is concerned, there was no intent to breach the regulations regarding expenses and he acted in good faith," she said.

She said the overspend had occurred because Mr Stevenson had been confronted by a creditor seeking payment at a time when the MP had been assured that his election expenses had already been settled.

He paid the bill rather than see a local man out of pocket, the spokeswoman said.

She added that there was no possibility of a challenge to the expenses now because any challenge had to be lodged within one year of an election taking place.

However, Staffordshire Police denied reports that Mr Stevenson was under investigation.

"There have been discussions between Mr Stevenson and the police. We have been approached but there is no complaint and no criminal investigation. They are only discussions," a spokesman said.

Mr Stevenson, who is 60, has been an MP since 1992. He worked in the pottery industry, the mining industry and as a Transport and General Workers' Union shop steward before going into full-time politics.

He was MEP for Staffordshire East from 1984 until 1994, and also served for many years on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, where he was deputy leader from 1972 until 1983.

In Parliament, he is a member of the select committee on agriculture.

He lists his interests as transport, energy, agriculture, human rights and south Asia. His outside interests are walking, travel and reading.