Parliamentary watchdog to investigate Tory leader

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Indy Politics

Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith tonight faced a further investigation into allegations that he improperly employed his wife.

Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Sir Philip Mawer's decision to launch an inquiry will come as a blow to Mr Duncan Smith.

The Tory leader submitted a 40-page dossier to Sir Philip in an effort to prove there was no case to answer.

However, Sir Philip said in a statement: "The nature of the information given to me - some of which is from anonymous sources - makes it necessary that I should undertake further inquiries."

He stressed: "The fact that I am making further inquiries ... does not imply that I regard the allegations against Mr Duncan Smith as substantiated, simply that I need additional information in order to be able to evaluate them properly."

He said he would report his findings to the Comons Standards and Privileges Committee

Mr Duncan Smith's dossier revealed that his wife was paid "no more than £15,000" between September 2001, when he became Conservative Party leader, and December last year, when she stopped working for him.

Sir Philip has also been examining evidence submitted to him by the investigative journalist Michael Crick.

Mr Duncan Smith dismissed his critics as "cowards in the shadows" trying to attack him through his wife, and said he was confident he would be exonerated by the inquiry.

Commons officials said any inquiry by Sir Philip could take between two weeks and two months. This could leave a cloud hanging over the Tory leader at a time when he is fighting for survival in the job.

Today Mr Crick handed further evidence to Sir Philip regarding Mrs Duncan Smith's work - a seven-page memo written by an official in the Tory leader's office which claimed that Mrs Duncan Smith had not helped in the rUNng of her husband's constituency office.

Mr Crick insisted that he had no political axe to grind, saying that a number of senior Tories had made allegations over the past few months about the way in which Mr Duncan Smith employed his wife on the parliamentary payroll.

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