'Drained' expenses official quits

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The official in charge of overseeing the new system of MPs' expenses has quit his post after only six months.

Nigel Gooding's departure from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority follows reports of arguments with politicians over the implementation of the system, introduced after last year's allowances scandal.

Mr Gooding confirmed he has left his post as operations director three months early, but denied he had been hounded out by MPs. He told the Mail on Sunday: "I have left the job for the sake of my health and sanity. I was given the option of doing another three months but felt I was just too drained to carry on. I have decided to take a break that I desperately need."

Mr Gooding said the expenses office was "a challenging working environment", but added: "I spent years as an amateur football referee. I have been called a lot worse on the football pitch than I was at Westminster."

Some MPs claim the revised system has left them up to £20,000 out of pocket.

Paul Farrelly, a Labour MP, said: "The transition has been really poorly managed and administered. I came across one MP who seemed to be on the edge of a nervous breakdown because of all this."

An IPSA spokesman said Mr Gooding's appointment had been an interim one.