MPs try to block expenses details

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Indy Politics

The Speaker of the Commons has lodged an appeal in the High Court to stop details of MPs' personal expenses and the addresses of their second homes being disclosed to the public.

The 11th-hour legal move came after a committee of the Commons authorities, chaired by Michael Martin, was advised by security officials and government law officers that MPs' security could be at risk if their private addresses were released.

The Speaker and senior MPs had been given until 4 pm tomorrow to publish details of allowances claims going back six years for 14 MPs and ex-MPs, including Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. But the Speaker's committee decided to fight the release of the details of past claims at the taxpayers' expense made by the Tory leader, David Cameron, the former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, the shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, the shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague, the former deputy prime minister John Prescott, the former foreign secretary Margaret Beckett and Peter Mandelson, the former MP who is now Britain's European commissioner for trade.

They are appealing against the Information Commission's ruling, upheld by the Information Tribunal, which could force the MPs and former MPs to reveal how much they had claimed from the £22,000 allowance for items on the so-called "John Lewis" list, such as £10,000 for a kitchen and £750 for stereo equipment.

"He's concerned that the Information Tribunal may have misdirected itself in law in deciding that home addresses of MPs should always be published," said a spokesman for the Speaker.

Heather Brooke, a freedom of information campaigner, said: "Somehow they think that because they are Parliament it's a totally different set of rules."

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