Maria Miller expenses: Culture Secretary in hot water as she's ordered to repay £5,800 claim

Culture Secretary ordered to apologise to House of Commons

Deputy Political Editor

Maria Miller faced anger after she delivered a 31-second apology in response to a damning report which accused her of trying to thwart an investigation into her parliamentary expenses claims.

David Cameron stood by his embattled Culture Secretary, dismissing calls for her to be sacked over her mortgage claims.

Following a 15-month investigation, Mrs Miller was ordered to say sorry for her delaying tactics and to repay £5,800 of wrongly claimed mortgage expenses.

The rebukes were issued by the all-party Standards Committee which examined her use of the second home allowance for MPs with constituencies outside London.

Although it watered down the recommendation from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards that she should return £45,000, the verdict was a grave embarrassment for the minister and a blow to her political career.

Kathryn Hudson, the commissioner, took a swipe at her for “misrepresenting” her investigation in an attempt to discredit it.

The committee accused Mrs Miller of breaking the MPs' code of conduct by adopting a “legalistic” attitude to the Commissioner's investigation and of stringing it out with “lengthy procedural challenges”.

Following the reprimand, she apologised in the Commons in a 79-word statement lasting just over half a minute.

David Cameron gave full backing to the minister, one of just four female members of the Cabinet, and insisted the matter was closed.

But the Labour MP John Mann called for her to be fired, protesting that her apology showed a lack of respect to the public, MPs and the committee.

A Conservative backbencher said: “Anyone close to Cameron or around him is given protection in a way that others aren't.

“Back in 2009 at the height of the expenses crisis, Cameron was only too happy to throw people to the wolves.“

The controversy centres on more than £90,000 of claims by Mrs Miller over four years for the London property which she designated as her second home and where her parents lived.

The committee cleared her of fiddling her expenses, but instructed her to repay £5,800 that she had inadvertently overclaimed because her invoices to the taxpayer failed to reflect cuts in interest rates.

The investigation began with the disclosure that Mrs Miller designated cottages which she rented in her constituency of Basingstoke, Hants, as her main residence and claimed expenses on her London property where her parents also lived.

The committee ruled that Mrs Miller should have nominated her house in the capital as her main home because she spent most nights there.

But it admitted that the judgement was “finely balanced” and considered she had acted reasonably in the light of the “guidance available at the time”.

It cleared her of breaking the rules on expenses by moving her parents into her family home, which had been the key charge against her.

In her statement to the Commons, Mrs Miller stressed the allegation that the taxpayer funded her parents' living costs had been ”dismissed”.

She said: “The committee did recommend that I apologise to the House for my attitude to the commissioner's inquiry and I of course unreservedly apologise.

“I fully accept the recommendations of the committee and thank them for bringing this matter to an end.”

But Mr Mann, who made the initial complaint about her claims, called on Mr Cameron to dismiss her from the Cabinet.

“Given David Cameron's strong statements on ”cleaning up expenses“ in the past, he will be accused of hypocrisy if he does not sack Maria Miller today,” he said.

“Maria Miller's apology, lasting only a few seconds, shows a lack of respect to Parliament, the Committee on Standards and the public.”

Mr Cameron's official spokesman said the Prime Minister had spoken to Mrs Miller and offered her his “full, strong, very warm support”.

He rejected suggestions her position was more secure because she was a woman.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on