Auditor under renewed fire over MPs' expenses

The auditor of MPs' expenses came under renewed fire today as it emerged that a number of his demands for repayment had been overturned on appeal.

Tory MP Roger Gale announced that he had been cleared after contesting Sir Thomas Legg's assertion that he had wrongly claimed thousands of pounds.



The Thanet North MP was among 80 who appealed to Sir Paul Kennedy, a former appeal court judge, because they felt that Sir Thomas's demands were unjustified.



Others who have been cleared by Sir Paul include Liberal Democrat frontbencher Jeremy Browne and, reportedly, Labour MP Ann Cryer.



Another Labour backbencher, Dennis Skinner, said today that Sir Thomas had offered him an "unreserved apology" after mistakenly asking the veteran MP to pay back about £5,000.



Mr Gale was ordered last October to hand back around £2,100 for mobile phone bills and £370 in rent for a London flat.



He insisted that his mobile claims were "permissible" under the rules at the time they were made and that the rent demand was made under the mistaken impression he had double-claimed.



Mr Gale said today he had received a letter from Sir Paul, who was appointed to hear appeals amid uproar at Sir Thomas's rulings last year, saying his appeal had been upheld.



"I'm gratified that Sir Paul Kennedy has done thoroughly and very carefully the job that I had hoped and expected that Sir Thomas Legg was going to do," he said.



He stressed that he had told Sir Paul, in his initial letter, that he would abide by his adjudication and pay back the money if he insisted.



Mr Skinner today disclosed the contents of a letter he had received from Sir Thomas last year after the MP challenged the former Whitehall mandarin's repayment demands.



"This should not have happened and I want to lose no time in offering an unreserved apology," Sir Thomas wrote to the Bolsover MP.



The auditor had asked him to pay back money towards a £9,280 kitchen, an £880 sofa bed - specially adapted because of the MP's illness - and cleaning costs.



Mr Skinner, 77, said Sir Thomas relented when he proved that he had already covered about 70% of the kitchen and half of the sofa bed, and that the auditor had double-counted his claims for cleaning.



"Since I have been in the bottom three for expenses claims for six years and I have the best voting record, even at my age, naturally I was a bit upset when I saw what he was saying and I knew all these things were wrong," he said.



"I knew he was wrong as soon as I saw his (initial) letter, I thought it was a funny process when he's put three items down and it's all wrong."



Mr Skinner said he had never even claimed for the mortgage on his second home.



After auditing all MPs' expenses between 2004 and 2008, Sir Thomas last year instructed about 200 MPs to return hundreds of thousands of pounds in "excessive" second home claims.



But he infuriated many by imposing retrospective rules and limits for reasonable spending on activities such as gardening and cleaning.



Other MPs who are known to have appealed to Sir Paul include Labour's Frank Field and Frank Cook and Tory Bernard Jenkin.



The official publication of the Legg review's findings - following the Kennedy appeals process - will not be published until next Thursday.



Mr Browne, a Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, disclosed last night that Sir Paul had determined that his second home claims were fair after all.



The Taunton MP had been told to hand back £17,894.24 after Sir Thomas decided he should not have claimed a higher amount in second home allowance after remortgaging.



In a letter to the MP, Sir Paul said it was clear to him Mr Browne had acted "openly and honestly" and his claims were for "the very purpose" the second home allowance was designed for.



Mr Browne said: "I am pleased and relieved to have had my appeal accepted in full.



"I have always maintained that I behaved properly when I used my own money to buy a home in Taunton and rejected alternative arrangements that would have actually cost the taxpayer more.



"My name has been cleared and my reputation restored with the confirmation by Sir Paul Kennedy that I acted 'openly and honestly'."

News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence