Climate-change envoy Morley sacked over £16,000 mortgage

The Prime Minister's climate change envoy Elliot Morley has been sacked and also suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party after he was found to have claimed £16,000 of taxpayers' money for a mortgage that no longer existed.

Mr Morley, a former agriculture minister, issued an unreserved apology yesterday after it emerged he had continued to claim £800 a month for a home in his Scunthorpe constituency after the mortgage had been fully repaid in 2006. He has now submitted his expenses to Westminster's sleaze watchdog in the hope it will prove the error was unintentional. John Lyon, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, will begin an investigation.

Fraud lawyers said Mr Morley could face criminal charges if it was proved his wrongful claims had been deliberate, a charge he fiercely denies. He may still be embroiled in a court battle even if no criminal charges are brought against him. The TaxPayers' Alliance is considering a private prosecution if no police action is taken.

"I accept that I have made a mistake in this case and have rectified it in full," Mr Morley, the Labour MP for Scunthorpe, said in a statement yesterday. "I deeply apologise for such sloppy accounting in a very loose and shambolic allowance system but there is nobody to blame but myself and I take full responsibility for this."

In an attempt to limit the damage of the latest expenses scandal, the Prime Minister announced the suspension of Mr Morley during the launch of Labour's European election campaign in Derbyshire. "Where there is irregularity now it has got to be dealt with immediately," he said. "Where disciplinary action is necessary, it will and will immediately be taken."

His future as the local Labour party's choice as parliamentary candidate is also in doubt. Fellow Labour MP, John Mann, said he should stand down as an MP as his explanation was "not credible". Local party members refused to comment about Mr Morley's future yesterday, but constituents freely expressed their anger. A neighbour, Mary Burnett, said his actions were "disgraceful". His constituency home at the centre of the scandal was under police guard last night.

Mr Morley's interest in the environment, including a love of bird watching, was appreciated by Tony Blair, who made him an agriculture minister in 1997. The job saw him thrust into dealing with a series of crises for the Government, including the banning of foxhunting and the outbreak of foot-and-mouth in 2001. By 2005, he had been promoted to the role of the world's first climate change minister and earned respect among green groups. He was rewarded with his role as climate change envoy upon leaving the Government in 2006.

After losing the title, he remains under pressure to resign his prestigious position as the chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee. Nadine Dorries, a Tory committee member, yesterday called on Mr Morley to quit the position until the standards commissioner completed his investigation.

Close friends of Mr Morley hoped he could weather the storm and hold on to his position on the committee, an honour of which he is extremely proud. "He's been committed to green issues for years. I think there is enough respect for him to allow him to keep hold of the committee," one said.

Sources in Downing Street denied the Prime Minister knew about Mr Morley's expenses transgressions two weeks ago, when the money was repaid. They said that while Labour's chief whip, Nick Brown, had been told by Mr Morley that there may be a problem about a week ago, both Mr Brown and the Prime Minister only learned of the exact nature of the allegations on Wednesday night, which led to an early morning crisis meeting at Number 10 yesterday.

That was followed by a meeting between Nick Brown and Mr Morley yesterday afternoon. Mr Brown said that Mr Morley's suspension from the parliamentary Labour Party was designed to "give him some space to clear his name". He added that he was not aware of any further expense abuses as serious as Mr Morley's case.

Crime & Punishment

Allegations

Claimed more than £16,000 over 18 months for a mortgage that had already been paid off. Has now repaid the money.

Consequences

Suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party. He will also be investigated by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, John Lyon. Could yet face a police investigation, after a complaint by the Taxpayers' Alliance, and a prosecution would be considered if it was thought he had claimed the money deliberately. The Taxpayers' Alliance has threatened a private prosecution if the Crown Persecution Service takes no action.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
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: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all