Chief Whip under fire over £18,000 food claims

Nick Brown, the man charged with investigating allegations that Labour MPs abused the system of Commons expenses, was dragged into the controversy over his own claims last night.

The Government Chief Whip, a close ally of Gordon Brown, was accused by The Daily Telegraph of claiming £18,800 over four years in unreceipted expenses for food consumed at his designated second home in Newcastle.

Mr Brown also faced questions over £200-a-month bills he regularly submitted for repairs and maintenance, plus £250 a month for cleaning, also without receipts. He is said to have claimed a total of £87,708 on his second home between 2004 and 2008. The MP for Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend told his local newspaper, The Journal,that his claims were “not unreasonable”.

He said that the claims on his Newcastle home represented a “contribution” towards his costs.

“It doesn’t represent the full cost that I bear myself. When the system moved from unreceipted to receipted expenditure, I submitted receipts for everything for which I claimed,” he said. “I am also now absorbing more of the cost myself. I think it reasonable to do so because I have a higher salary as a minister.”

Yesterday, Mr Brown launched an inquiry into allegations that Labour MP Ben Chapman continued to claim £1,900 in mortgage interest with the agreement of the Commons Fees Office after his payments were cut to £400 when he paid off part of his home loan.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Chief Whip has spoken to Ben Chapman. He’s investigating documents provided by Mr Chapman and will seek further clarification from him and the Fees Office.”

The Telegraph,which has now published details of the expenses paid to 160 of the 646 MPs, alleged last night that John Austin, Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, claimed more than £10,000 for the redecoration of his London flat – which is just 11 miles from his main home – before selling it for a £30,000 profit. Mr Austin said: “The Daily Telegraph report is inaccurate and misleading and I believe it to be libellous. I am taking legal advice.”

The newspaper also claimed that Dawn Butler, a Government whip, spent thousands renovating a house less than 15 miles from her main residence, claiming for a Jacuzzi-style bath to be fitted in her north London second home while saying her main home was in east London. She claimed £2,600 too much in rent, but the Fees Office allowed her to “dig out” other receipts to cover the over-claim.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Tory Chief Whip who is auditing expenses claims by MPs in his party, claimed £3,000 for new windows at his second home while Steve McCabe, a Labour whip, overclaimed on his mortgage by £4,059.

Diana Johnson, a Labour assistant whip, spent £1,000 hiring an architect for a decorating project at her second home

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: C# Developer - Kent - £43,000

£35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: C# and .Net Developer - n...

Guru Careers: Digital Marketing Exec / Online Marketing Executive

£35 - 40k: Guru Careers: Our client has a new role for a Digital Marketing Exe...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'