MP 'deeply hurt' at paper's expense claims

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Indy Politics

A Tory MP accused of using his Commons expenses to pay more than £100,000 of public money into his own company said today he was "deeply hurt" by the claims.

The Daily Telegraph reported the taxpayer funded office assistance provided by Moorlands Research Services for more than three years to David Wilshire, MP for Spelthorne, Surrey.

The firm, which is owned by Mr Wilshire and his partner Ann Palmer, was paid up to £3,250 a month between 2005 and 2008.

Mr Wilshire said: "I am deeply hurt by the way in which the Daily Telegraph has reported on my expenses and disappointed that it has not published all of my response to their enquiries.

"My constituents are rightly entitled to the truth about these allegations. I have therefore written to the Commissioner for Standards asking him to conduct an enquiry. Until I have had an opportunity to take his advice, I think it best if I say nothing further."

Commons Speaker John Bercow signalled his support for the controversial backdated caps on MPs' expenses as the fresh abuse allegation surfaced.

Mr Bercow indicated he believed limits imposed on certain historic expenses by auditor Sir Thomas Legg had been "implicit" at the time they were claimed, despite fury among MPs at the retrospective rules.

Speaker Mr Bercow risks incurring the wrath of MPs over his approach to the retrospective limits imposed by Sir Thomas.

Mr Bercow's spokesman denied reports he had tried to persuade Sir Thomas against introducing backdated caps, insisting the men only discussed whether the limits should be cash, or a percentage of the expenses claimed.

"The Speaker accepts Sir Thomas's view that this is not retrospective, but what was implicit in the rules as written," the spokesman added.

Sir Thomas sparked the controversy by deciding no MP should have claimed more than £1,000 a year for gardening and £2,000 for cleaning.

The move means many are now being asked to repay thousands of pounds of spending that was signed off by Commons officials.

The Tories made clear today that they were determined to see the matter swiftly resolved.

A party spokeswoman said: "This will be resolved either way long before the general election. The Standards Commissioner's in-tray cannot be used as an excuse to drag this out."

Mr Wilshire now expects to face questioning by Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin to get to the bottom of the allegations against him.