Brown backs Blears despite 'unacceptable' tax claim









Gordon Brown continues to have full confidence in Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, despite twice publicly branding her behaviour "unacceptable", the Prime Minister's spokesman said today.



Mr Brown yesterday told a Downing Street press conference that it was "totally unacceptable" for the Salford MP to avoid capital gains tax by telling the taxman her London flat was her main residence after designating it her second home for expenses purposes.

This morning he repeated the comment in a TV interview, adding that it was "difficult" that a member of his Cabinet had been caught up in the scandal over parliamentary allowances.

The comments came just weeks after Ms Blears was forced to deny that a newspaper jibe at YouTube campaigning was intended as a criticism of the PM's much-mocked appearance on the video-sharing website.

They further fuelled Westminster speculation that she may be dumped from the Cabinet in a reshuffle expected next month. But in a regular daily briefing of Westminster reporters, Mr Brown's spokesman refused to discuss whether a reshuffle was in the offing.

Ms Blears last week apologised for her handling of the flat sale and handed over £13,000 to the taxman. Last night her constituency party ruled out deselecting her, with a statement saying: "Hazel Blears will be our Labour candidate at the next General Election. We have full confidence in her."

Challenged over Ms Blears' actions this morning, Mr Brown told GMTV: "Hazel didn't break any rule or law. But what she did was unacceptable. She came to me, we talked about it and she paid back the money."

He admitted that it was "difficult" that a member of his Cabinet had been caught up in the scandal.

Pressed on the issue of whether Ms Blears should be sacked, Mr Brown said: "I have already suspended - I am the only party leader to have done so - I have suspended two Members of Parliament from the Parliamentary Labour Party, I have told a minister to step down because of difficulties and irregularities that have got to be investigated in his affairs.

"I am the only party leader in these last few weeks to have actually suspended and asked people to step down.

"If it became necessary to do so for other people, I will not resile from doing so. We will take all the action that is necessary."

Mr Brown's spokesman was this morning asked whether the PM continued to have full confidence in Ms Blears and replied simply: "Yes."

Challenged over whether the PM's comments were undermining the Communities Secretary, the spokesman said: "He was saying that the whole situation is difficult and that is a situation that relates to many MPs as a result of the revelations we have seen in recent weeks.

"Hazel Blears was the first person to acknowledge that the issue wasn't about whether or not she had broken the law or the rules at the time.

"The Prime Minister stressed this morning and yesterday that Hazel Blears didn't break the law or the rules. She has taken action to to pay capital gains tax even though she is not required to do so by the law. She wanted to do that in order to avoid any doubt about the money and the Prime Minister respects that.

"In the Prime Minister's view she is doing a good job as Communities Secretary."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
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

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum