Ex-minister Morley admits £32,000 fraud

The former environment minister Elliot Morley yesterday admitted dishonestly claiming mortgage payments worth £32,000. The ex-Labour MP, 58, of Winterton, near Scunthorpe, entered two guilty pleas for false accounting in claims made between 2004 and 2007.

The brief hearing at Southwark Crown Court in London was adjourned for pre-sentence reports to be submitted by 12 May.

In the Commons, officials said that for the final two months of 2010, MPs were paid a total of £3.2m in expenses. But claims worth £9,998 submitted by 44 MPs were refused by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority during that period. These claims included Conservative Tobias Ellwood's £59 bicycle repair and Labour's Ian Mearns, who provided "insufficient evidence" for an £8 taxi journey from Gateshead to BBC Newcastle.

Conservative Francis Maude's children nearly landed him in trouble after he was refused a claim for £3.95 for buying a Sherlock Holmes film. He said he submitted the claim for a TV and internet package at his London home, not realising his children had bought the film. He said: "My children have assured me that if they purchase on-demand films again, they'll let me know."