Justice minister stands down over 'rent deal'

Malik 'pleased to have chance to clear his name

The expenses scandal engulfing Westminster claimed its biggest scalp yet yesterday after a junior minister stepped down amid a row over his use of parliamentary allowances.

Shahid Malik, the Justice minister, lost his post amid allegations that he had breached the ministerial code by paying reduced rent for his constituency flat in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. The deal is the subject of the first-ever investigation by Sir Philip Mawer, appointed to advise the Prime Minister on the ministerial code in 2007. He is expected to complete the inquiry within days.

Mr Malik has stopped claiming his ministerial salary of £30,851 for the investigation. Downing Street said he would be reinstated should he be cleared of breaching the code. He has been accused of paying a heavily-subsidised rent on the property of under £100 a week but has refused to comment on the allegation. All ministers must clear any possible conflict of interest in their financial dealings with the Cabinet Secretary, Gus O'Donnell.

"Because that allegation would represent a potential financial benefit, and that potential alleged benefit was not declared as part of his ministerial declaration, this could represent a breach of the ministerial code," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said. He added that the accusations "at this point remain accusations and it is important Sir Philip establishes the facts".

Mr Malik's constituency Labour party last night said that it gave the MP its unanimous support and that his integrity was still intact.

Mr Malik, who was a rising star in the party, decided to step down after speaking with the Prime Minister yesterday morning. He had shown little remorse until that point, declaring on television hours earlier that his actions had been "one million per cent by the book". Mr Malik later issued a statement, saying he was "pleased to have this opportunity to clear my name".

"I would like to make it clear this inquiry has nothing whatsoever to do with my expense claims but relates to an allegation regarding my rent which, if true, would breach the ministerial code," he said. "I am confident there has been no such breach and look forward to the findings of the inquiry so that I can continue to serve my constituents as their MP and the country as a minister with my head held high."

Mr Malik had claimed £66,827 from the second home allowance over three years, the highest of any MP. He spent the money on his home in Peckham, south-east London. Despite the size of the claim, he said he was "as straight as they come". He also claimed £2,600 for a home cinema system. Taxpayers paid half the bill after the fees office told him he had exceeded the limit.

He refused to repay the money that he said was legitimately his, but said he would donate the amount to good causes in his constituency "as a gesture". He also claimed £730 on a massage chair, arguing "legitimate expenditure" due to back problems. After allegations over his use of expenses were revealed in The Telegraph, he admitted the rules on expenses were "in complete tatters". He added: "With hindsight, I think every MP in this country would have done things differently. And for that collectively, on behalf of all MPs, of course I apologise."

The Taxpayers' Alliance has described Mr Malik as "shameless".

The Tory leader, David Cameron, warned yesterday that Parliament was at a "dangerous" moment in its history. "The decisions we make and the actions we take will help determine the future path of our politics and our Westminster government," he said.

Five hours: Two stances

"I have absolutely nothing to apologise for. I have done nothing wrong ... I went one million per cent by the book." Shahid Malik, 8.30am

"I spoke with the Prime Minister this morning and we agreed that the best way forward ... was for me to step to one side as an interim measure." Shahid Malik, 1.30pm

Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus all the build-up to Man City vs Chelsea and Everton vs Palace
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teaching Assistant required in ...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam