MPs let off expenses repayments

MPs who wrongly claimed taxpayer-funded expenses for websites featuring party political logos were let off partly because of a watchdog's lax monitoring.

Details of 21 investigations into alleged abuses of taxpayer-funded expenses have been published after a climbdown by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).



All but one of the cases, which numbered former Cabinet minister Alan Johnson among those investigated, involved illegitimate claims for public cash for websites.



Ipsa's compliance officer ruled that they should be spared paying back the cash because the breaches were relatively minor and the watchdog was "in part at fault".



Officials should have spotted the infringements and blocked the payments in the first place, Martyn Taylor said, ruling that MPs who had already coughed up should get their cheques back.



Ipsa is also consulting on changes to the rules over when MPs under investigation should be named - including removing the discretion given to the compliance officer over individual cases.



Existing guidelines suggest politicians should be identified when a formal investigation is launched, but no details had been released since Ipsa took over running the system 17 months ago.



The then-compliance officer Luke March said in July that naming MPs could be "unfair" and suggested there should be no publicity at all if they were cleared.



Within days of making the comments - which raised the prospect that the new regime could be less transparent than the old discredited one - Mr March resigned.



Mr Taylor, previously head of governance at the watchdog, has been filling in until a permanent replacement is recruited.



In its consultation document, Ipsa said that keeping the names of MPs under investigation secret until it concludes would "respect the need for transparency and prevent speculation".



While the arguments were "finely balanced", revealing politicians' identities at the launch of a full inquiry risked them being "accused of wrongful expense claims before a full and fair investigation is completed", it said.



Other options were to publish only the name of the MPs and the category of expense involved at the outset or to leave it in the hands of the compliance officer.



A spokesman said procedures had been tightened to prevent a repeat of the website breaches.



The only other investigation listed involved Conservative MP Peter Aldous, who repaid £361 in hotel bills which he claimed while the taxpayer was also funding rent on a flat for him.



In the conclusions of the investigation, Mr Taylor said the overlap lasted "a few days whilst Mr Aldous acquired a number of basic items to make his rented flat habitable".



Again he found Ipsa "partly at fault" for paying out the money in the first place.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions