Caroline Spelman to repay nanny expenses

Conservative frontbencher Caroline Spelman last night agreed to repay £9,600 after parliamentary anti-sleaze watchdogs found she broke Commons rules by paying taxpayers' money to her children's nanny.

But the shadow Communities Secretary will keep her frontbench job after the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee said the breach was "unintentional".

Ms Spelman apologised for the error and said she would return the cash used to fund childcare. A report published last night follows a long-running investigation into claims Ms Spelman breached rules on expenses by paying her children's nanny Tina Haynes out of her parliamentary expenses.

The report found that Ms Spelman paid Mrs Haynes £13,000 a year for doing secretarial work between 1997 and 1999. Ms Spelman said Mrs Haynes was paid no salary for taking sole care of her three children. Her nannying duties were rewarded with free board and lodging.

But when Mrs Haynes gave up the constituency work to concentrate on the nannying, Ms Spelman paid her a £13,000 salary out of her own pocket to cover the childcare.

A constituency secretary who took over was paid £4,800 a year less than Mrs Haynes for doing the work – and so the report found that Ms Spelman had been effectively subsidising Mrs Haynes' nannying job.