John Prescott seeks card investigation apology

 

Lord Prescott demanded an apology from two Government ministers today, after a Civil Service investigation cleared him of misusing departmental credit cards.

The head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O'Donnell, has written to the former deputy prime minister to confirm that all spending on cards used by his office was "legitimate" except for seven transactions made after a card was illegally cloned.

Lord Prescott accused Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Housing Minister Grant Shapps of using taxpayers' money to pursue a politically-motivated attempt to smear his reputation.

Details of spending on Government Procurement Cards issued to Lord Prescott's department between 2004 and 2006 were released by Mr Pickles' Department for Communities and Local Government in October this year, as the coalition highlighted its efforts to cut official expenses.

These included £456 at the Star City casino, £490 at a seafood restaurant and £75 at an aquarium during a visit to Sydney in 2004, as well as £400 at a Chinese restaurant in Lord Prescott's home town of Hull.

Mr Shapps claimed they showed a culture of "wild spending" under the previous Labour administration and accused Lord Prescott of showing "a cavalier attitude to the public purse".

But the former DPM insisted he had never held a Government credit card and said fraud was the only explanation for some of the items, including £2,000 worth of camera equipment purchased on the same day in 2005.

Much of the spending appeared to cover meals for officials from his department who were away from home on Government business, including a trip to study the impact of the relaxation of casino licensing in Australia, he said.

Sir Gus's letter, sent to Lord Prescott last month, confirmed that "you did not hold a government procurement card while you were Deputy Prime Minister".

And the Cabinet Secretary added: "From the information available, the expenditure appears to have been legitimately incurred by the Department, with the exception of seven transactions amounting to some £2,000 from cloned credit cards. The money has been recovered."

Lord Prescott said he understood that the transactions on cloned cards related to the camera equipment.

And he said: "I want Pickles and Shapps to apologise for letting people believe I had a government credit card and was using it to gamble in casinos."

The Labour peer said he was particularly angered because Government transparency rules require the publication only of transactions over £500, but the DCLG - which took over from his Office of the Deputy Prime Minister - took the decision to release details below this threshold in his case.

"I have asked other departments and they say they can't go below £500 because it is too expensive," he said. "If that's the case, then why can Pickles do it when it comes to me? It is politically motivated.

"It suggests this was a concerted political attempt to blacken my name, which was done at the taxpayers' expense. If that is the case, you would have to ask whether that was a legitimate use of public money."

Mr Shapps said: "This is all bluster, smoke and mirrors by Prezza to try and deflect attention.

"But no amount of spinning the tables can disguise his luxury 'research' trip to a top Australian casino whilst enjoying some of the country's finest cuisine, all at the taxpayer's expense.

"Raiding the public purse for this type of lavish expenditure just shows how out of touch Labour got in power and the reason why they should never be trusted again in office."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee