Privy counsellor becomes 13th expenses victim

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Indy Politics

The Labour MP Elliot Morley last night became the 13th MP to stand down in the wake of the expenses scandal. It emerged two weeks ago that he claimed £16,800 over 18 months for a mortgage that had been paid off. He has repaid the money.

He announced his decision "with regret" outside the Labour Party offices in his Scunthorpe constituency, but stressed it had been his decision. He said the past two weeks had been "traumatic" and that he had "to think of my family and my health, both of which have suffered".

He also said he did not want to "undermine the strong position the Labour Party has in this constituency in what will be a crucial election".

Mr Morley is currently suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party pending a sleaze watchdog investigation and a possible police inquiry.

But he said he made "a genuine mistake" and was "confident that my name will be cleared".

Meanwhile David Cameron has said that MPs who have claimed for so-called "phantom mortgages" should expect to face fraud charges. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph he said: "If people have broken the law in claiming expenses, like mortgage payments for mortgages that don't exist, should they be subject to the full force of the law? Yes of course they should."

By waiting until the next election to stand down, Mr Morley will now qualify for a pay-off equivalent to a year's salary - presently £64,766. The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg earlier called for such pay-offs to be stopped.