MP David Laws 'broke more expenses rules'

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Indy Politics

Liberal Democrat former Treasury chief secretary David Laws has been found guilty of breaching a series of Commons rules over his MP expenses, it was reported today.

The BBC reported that Mr Laws had been found guilty of "around six" breaches of the regulations by Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards John Lyon.

Mr Laws quit the new coalition Government just 17 days after his appointment as a minister following the disclosure that he claimed tens of thousands of pounds rent paid to his partner, lobbyist James Lundie.

Mr Laws, who referred himself to the commissioner, apologised at the time and admitted he had made a mistake after the Commons rules were changed in 2006 to bar such claims.

He said he had not been seeking to benefit financially, as he could have legitimately claimed more if he had claimed for a mortgage with his partner, but had wanted to keep his sexuality private.

The BBC reported that Mr Lyon's investigation had uncovered further breaches of the rules relating to telephone bills and building work.

The commissioner's findings were considered at a meeting today of MPs on the Standards and Privileges Committee - the Commons disciplinary body.

Mr Laws' hopes of making a return to Government is likely to depend on how seriously the committee views the breaches when it publishes its report, expected tomorrow.

He was highly regarded by both David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is thought to be keen to bring him back, but that could prove difficult if the report is highly critical.

Asked whether Mr Cameron thought a guilty verdict might prevent Mr Laws' return to the front benches, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told reporters: "No report has been published as yet."

The spokesman added: "What he has said in the past - and the Deputy Prime Minister has also said - is that he hopes that one day David Laws will be able to return to government.

"The Deputy Prime Minister has said that that should await the report from the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner. As I understand it, that report has yet to be published."