Cameron accused of 'Stalinist purge' against Tory old guard

Leadership is using kangaroo courts to remake party in its image, says letter circulating among backbenchers

David Cameron has been accused of "Stalinist" tactics by Tory MPs who claim he is using the expenses scandal as an excuse to purge his party's old guard MPs. A letter circulating among Tories at Westminster alleges: "The party in parliament has ceased to be a team effort and is now just run and dictated to for the personal advantage of David Cameron and George Osborne [the shadow Chancellor]."

It alleges that MPs whose expenses claims had been exposed faced "summary justice" in a "kangaroo court" composed of Cameron allies. Accusing the leadership of wielding "despotic power", the round-robin letter says: "Colleagues are threatened with expulsion, older members are being forced out, untested candidates are being invited to appear from nowhere, and all of it is designed to asset a Stalinist hold over the party." The letter added: "We are concerned that the parliamentary party is just being used and abused by the leader and his inner circle. They are treating the party as if it is their private property."

Although the anonymous letter was not confirmed as genuine and was suspected by some Tories of being a Labour "dirty tricks" operation, some Tory insiders suggested the views expressed in it were shared by about half of the party's 193 MPs.

There was open defiance of Mr Cameron yesterday by Brian Binley, a Tory backbencher accused of breaking Commons rules by claiming more than £50,000 in rent for a flat owned by one of his own companies. He declared that if he was asked to repay the money by the Tories' scrutiny panel, he would refuse to do so. He said: "I signed a rental agreement for £1,500 a month, which is a very good price in Pimlico – I felt a very good deal for the taxpayer, a very good deal for my family. I did it honestly and properly. This place is not going to criminalise me. I am perfectly happy with everything I've done. I've been honest and open in everything done." Mr Binley could face losing the Tory whip if he refuses to abide by any ruling from the panel.

Tim Montgomerie, editor of the ConservativeHome website, said: "Morale in the parliamentary party remains at rock bottom because of the whole expenses saga. The overall negativity of the letter about the Cameron project suggests it is written by unrepresentative malcontents. But the letter shouldn't be completely ignored by Team Cameron. A lot of Tory MPs are very unhappy at the power that they see concentrated in the leader's office."

Mr Cameron acknowledged the disquiet in his own party when he addressed a private meeting on Tuesday. He said the expenses affair was difficult for all MPs and involved "painful decisions" but insisted his party had to tackle the issue head on.

The Tory leader has been meeting groups of his MPs to discuss the controversy in an attempt to allay their fears. His party's scrutiny panel will publish its verdicts next week after assessing the claims by all Tory MPs.

Gordon Brown also came under fire for his record on expenses when Michael Martin made his farewell speech to the Commons yesterday after becoming the first Speaker to be forced out for more than 300 years. Mr Martin, the highest profile victim of the expenses saga, said he regretted the Commons vote in July last year in which MPs decided not to scrap the "John Lewis list" under which they could furnish their second homes. He added: "I wish with all my heart that those recommendations had won the confidence of the House last July. And I wish that party leaders could have shown then some of the leadership which they have shown now."

The affair will reach its climax today when the parliamentary authorities finally publish the censored version of the payments made to all 646 MPs over four years. The information runs to 700,000 pages and includes more than 5,000 computer files. They include receipts and run to between 1,000 and 1,500 pages for most MPs.

But the long-awaited publication will not end the controversy. MPs have had the chance to black out some information from the paperwork on security grounds. So the official version will omit key details such as home addresses which were on the uncensored version obtained by The Daily Telegraph.

Since 8 May, the newspaper has run an almost daily series of stories detailing the claims by most MPs. Its disclosures have resulted in 16 MPs announcing that they will stand down from parliament.

The existence of the original computer disc means that the Telegraph will be able to disclose what has been censored by the Commons authorities. The paper believes that many of the abuses of the system – such as MPs switching or "flipping" their first and second homes to maximise their claims – would never have come to light if the uncensored claims had not leaked. It has had to cross-check the raw data on the claims with other sources such as the Land Registry to reveal how MPs milked the system.

Expenses scandal: 42 days later

Going... Standing down at the next election

Jim Devine Said he had been "hung out to dry" after deselection by Labour and that he had done nothing wrong after claiming £4,500 for rewiring at his Livingstone flat.

Ian Taylor Faced criticism for having a second home in London, rather than commuting from Surrey. He said MPs "should seek to be around locally more than around Westminster".

David Chaytor Claimed around £13,000 for a mortgage he had already paid off. He apologised for what he called an "unforgivable error in accounting procedures".

Elliot Morley Paying back £16,000 he claimed for a "phantom" mortgage. Stood down as chair of a select committee before announcing he would leave the Commons.

Andrew MacKay Voluntarily stepped down as David Cameron's aide after claiming for a second home without appearing to have a main home. Leaving Commons after hostile meeting with constituents.

Margaret Moran The Luton South MP claimed £22,500 for dry rot on second home 100 miles from her constituency. Is repaying the money, despite initially refusing to do so.

Sir Peter Viggers David Cameron immediately condemned him after it emerged he attempted to claim £1,645 for a floating home for his ducks. The Conservative leader demanded he step down.

Anthony Steen Said he thought constituents were "jealous" because he had a "very, very large house" after he was criticised for claiming £87,729 to maintain his country estate.

Douglas Hogg Taxpayers footed the bill for the cleaning of the moat surrounding his country home. The Tory MP also claimed for piano tuning and a housekeeper.

Ben Chapman The first on the Labour benches to step down. Accused of claiming £15,000 for a "phantom" mortgage.

Ian McCartney Said he was leaving for health reasons. But the former Labour chairman repaid £15,000 of expense claims last year, which included champagne flutes.

Sir Nicholas and Ann Winterton Leaving the Commons after claiming £120,000 to rent a flat from a trust controlled by their children. Said the fees office had agreed.

Going...? MPs still in trouble over expenses

Brian Binley Claimed £57,000 to rent a flat from his own company. Faces becoming the first Tory to lose the whip if he carries out his threat to refuse to repay money if told to do so.

Jacqui Smith Under pressure from her Redditch constituents after claiming two adult films, watched by her husband, on expenses. Left the Government at the recent reshuffle.

Phil Hope The health minister looks set to lose his marginal seat of Corby after repaying £41,709 in expenses, more than any other MP. Claimed the money for furnishings.

Shahid Malik Minister facing second investigation over expenses by sleaze watchdog after allegations he claimed towards the running of two offices, which he denies.

Alistair Darling Still under pressure after a series of allegations, including that he claimed on multiple second homes. Has said claims were within rules, but is repaying some money.

Nadine Dorries Under pressure from constituents after accusations she only spent free weekends and holidays in main home, allowing her to claim for a second home.

Barbara Follet The Tourism minister claimed more than £25,000 for security patrols at her London home. She denied all wrongdoing, but may lose her seat at the election, which she won with a 3,000-vote majority.

Geoff Hoon Repaying money and apologised after claiming for two second homes at the same time. Stepped down as Transport Secretary ahead of Gordon Brown's recent reshuffle.

Andrew George Liberal Democrat MP under the greatest pressure after claiming expenses on a London flat that was occupied by his daughter. George vehemently defended his actions and denied his daughter lived at the address.

Ian Gibson Barred by Labour from standing again after claiming on the home in which his daughter and her partner were living rent free. Denied selling house below market value.

Michael Martin The Speaker was forced to stand down and quit as an MP after coming under heavy criticism for his handling of the expenses scandal. He had been accused of blocking transparency.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

Software Engineer - C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software En...

Software Team Leader - C++

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software Tea...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor