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.

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
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

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Health & Social CareTeacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a health an...

Maths Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently look...

Technology Teacher (Resistant Materials and Graphics)

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently looking fo...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?