Bercows 'did not put Parliamentary security at risk' when Speaker's wife Sally sold furniture from apartment on eBay before McAlpine court battle

There were concerns when Mrs Bercow invited winning bidders to collect items from their Westminster flat

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Indy Politics

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow and his wife Sally have rebuffed claims that Parliamentary security was put at risk when they put furniture from their grace-and-favour Palace of Westminster flat up for sale on eBay.

Mrs Bercow sold £1,600 worth of furniture from their flat on the online auction site in the weeks preceding her libel battle with Lord McAlpine and the estimated £100,000 legal bill that followed.

Items such as an "immaculate" Duresta sofa - sold for£480 - and an antique oak dresser (going for well under its £2,250 valuation price at £250) were put up on the site with an invitation to the winning bidder to collect their purchase from Westminster, sparking security fears.

However, a spokesman for the couple told the Evening Standard: "There are no security concerns as all visitors to the Parliamentary estate undergo strict searches as a condition of entry and are restricted on where they may go on the estate once they are admitted."

Though the items of furniture came from the couple's grace-and-favour flat, which they moved into in 2009, it was made clear that they belonged to the couple.

Shortly after moving in, the Bercows refurbished the apartment at a cost of £45,000 to the taxpayer.

In January, the pair bought a £935,000 six-bed 1980s Thames-side townhouse in south London, to which Mrs Bercow seemed to allude to in one listing.

"‘Antique and period-style furniture just won’t work in the new, modern house we bought recently," she wrote.

Mrs Bercow was taken to court by former Tory Treasurer Lord McAlpine after she falsely implied that he was a paedophile to her 56,000 Twitter followers. She fought the case and lost, ending up with a bill for damages and legal costs thought to be in the region of £100,000.