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UK Politics

Brown defends Smith over adult film expenses claim

Prime Minister Gordon Brown backed Home Secretary Jacqui Smith today after she apologised for claiming tax-funded expenses for two adult films watched at her family home.

"This is very much a personal matter for Jacqui," he told a press conference.

"She has made her apology. Her husband has made it clear that he has apologised. I think the best thing is that Jacqui Smith gets on with her work, which is what she wants to do."

Smith, who is already under investigation over her housing allowance, said yesterday she had mistakenly claimed for pay-per-view television when she submitted a bill for her internet connection.

The adult films, which cost £5 each, were watched by her husband, Richard Timney, while she was away from the family house in Worcester last April. She has now paid the money back.

Conservative leader David Cameron said the expenses claim was "embarrassing" but said she need not resign.

"Well it's obviously deeply embarrassing for the Home Secretary and for the Government," Cameron told GMTV, adding the issue was not a resignation matter in itself.

Timney has made a public apology for the embarrassment he had caused his wife and a source close to Smith said she was furious with him.

Parliament's sleaze watchdog is already looking into Smith's claims for £116,000 to pay for accommodation in London when she was staying with her sister. Smith says she followed parliament's rules and has done nothing wrong.

Smith ignored journalists' shouted questions when she left her sister's home this morning.

"I am sorry that in claiming for my internet connection, I mistakenly claimed for a television package alongside it," she said in a statement at the weekend.

"As soon as the matter was brought to my attention, I took immediate steps to contact the relevant parliamentary authorities and rectify the situation."

Last week, the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life watchdog announced it would review the allowances paid to members of parliament after a series of MPs' claims for allowances triggered public anger.

Cameron said there was a lack of confidence in the current system, and called for complete transparency over expenses so the public could see what MPs were claiming.

"It means MPs will stop claiming for things they can't defend," he said.

"I always say to my MPs, there's two rules. There's the rules in the book, you've got to obey them. Then there's the rule of public opinion."