Jacqui Smith opens up about porn scandal

Former home secretary Jacqui Smith has opened up about the porn scandal which ended her career and has suggested her expenses were scrutinised more because she is a woman.

The former MP - who lost her seat at the last general election - said her expenses were examined first because there was a view that as a woman she should have been devoting more time to looking after her husband and children.

In a new interview with Radio Times, Ms Smith dismissed whispers that it was her eldest son, rather than her husband, who had watched sex films which were claimed on expenses.

Her claims caused a stir two years ago when it emerged that her husband Richard Timney, who also ran her constituency office, had watched pay-per-view movies which had then been subject to a claim for reimbursement.

The furore - compounded with claims over her main residence - led to her resigning as the first female home secretary and taking a back bench position until last May, when she lost her seat.

Smith, who posed for the magazine in a mac while walking around London's Soho which has long had a reputation for its thriving sex shop trade, said it was her gender which led to people targeting her claims.

"(I) know that it was my expenses people looked at first because I was a woman and should have been at home looking after my husband and children," said the mother of two.

She said that she felt "protective" towards her husband because of the contributions he made to the family which she was unable to do.

"I couldn't have done the job without Richard to pick the boys up when they were sick, make them do their homework and piano practice."

Ms Smith will be heard presenting a documentary about pornography for Radio 5 Live next Thursday.

She said it was a "very brave" way to head off the controversy, and hopes it may lead to further opportunities as a broadcaster.

Recalling the claim for porn films, she told Radio Times: "I was more frozen than angry. I just couldn't believe that we - both of us - had put in this claim."

She said she was asked not to resign immediately by the then prime minister Gordon Brown.

Ms Smith said she took responsibility for the claim: "I was the one who did the wrong thing. For claiming it. For not going through the expense form closely enough."

The incident left her husband "devastated", she said. "Really. Deeply affected. By what it did to me and the family."

Asked about rumours that Mr Timney had actually shouldered the blame for her 17-year-old son, Ms Smith said: "It isn't true. That is the thing I hate the most."

And she also countered another suggestion that her husband had been watching gay porn, saying: "I asked him and Richard said 'don't make me laugh'."

:: The full interview is in the new edition of Radio Times, on sale from today.

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