'Secretly' resolved MP expenses cases revealed

Details of dozens of complaints against MPs that have been "secretly" resolved over recent years were finally published today.

One member quietly repaid £755 claimed on expenses for software that used astrology to diagnose medical conditions, while another handed back costs for maintaining an Aga-style cooker at a house he had rented out.

Under the so-called "rectification" procedure, standards commissioner John Lyon has the power to fast-track investigations when the MP involved admits they have broken rules and he does not regard the matter as too serious.

However, the practice has come under fire because the allegations and his conclusions were not always made public - until now.

Mr Lyon has disclosed that 16 cases were rectified in 2008/9, 14 in 2009/10 and 10 so far in 2010/11.

They include that of Tory MP for Bosworth David Tredinnick, who was subject to a complaint last year that he had spent £755.33 of taxpayers' money on a computer programme providing "interpretations and analyses of a person's condition based on astrology".

Mr Tredinnick argued that the outlay on "Solarfire V" was justified as he had a long-standing interest in astrology and complementary medicine that had been expressed in parliament.

"Solarfire V provides interpretation in both Western and Indian astrology and it is easy to switch between the two systems," he wrote in a letter to the commissioner. "As a result I now have a better understanding of the Indian system of Medicine, Ayurvedic, its definitions of personalities as being Vata or Airy, Kapha or Earthy or Pitta--Fiery types and how these personalities are reflected in Rashi and Navamsha Indian astrological readings.

"I also have a better understanding of how Culpepper linked plants to planets and signs and can check their characteristics using the Western programme in Solarfire V.

"All this information is helpful in discussions and debates in my work in Parliament. I have not yet made a major speech on the subject in the House because of prejudice but one day I will. In discussions I use this information frequently."

But after a lengthy exchange of correspondence with the commissioner, Mr Tredinnick agreed to repay the cash, sparing him a full-blown probe.

Ex-Tory MP for Totnes Anthony Steen - who accused people of being "jealous" of his substantial expenses-funded house in Devon after being criticised for excessive claims last year - was also on the list.

He returned a total of £561, which included a bill for maintenance on a Rayburn range cooker in the rented-out coach house that had been "inadvertently" submitted.

Many of the rectified complaints relate to episodes where MPs have used parliamentary stationery to contact constituents for political purposes, and they often involve small sums of money.

Other cases include:

* Ex-Labour MP Janet Anderson overclaimed petty cash totalling £5,700 between 2005 and 2008, because she did not realise she was not allowed to claim for Westminster office and constituency office;

* Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman handing back £13.20 for prepaid House of Commons envelopes and stationery to send letters to non-constituents;

* Sadiq Khan, now shadow justice secretary, repaying £173 for letters sent to constituents just before the general election campaign began;

* Boris Johnson, now Tory mayor of London, failing to register 33 shares worth £1 each in Finland Station Ltd. The then Henley MP apologised and said he was not "aware that his shares had any pecuniary value";

* Former Lib Dem MP Willie Rennie repaid £2,647 in May this year that he overclaimed for office space and a printing machine that had been shared with his local party.

The commissioner also disclosed for the first time details of his current investigations.

Lib Dem David Laws is still being investigated over the accommodation claims that sparked his resignation as chief secretary to the Treasury.

Ex-Labour MPs Anthony Wright and Margaret Moran are both being probed over expenses claims - with the latter also subject to a police inquiry on separate allowances allegations.

Labour's Andy Slaughter and Simon Danczuk are being examined over use of pre-paid envelopes, and Alison Seabeck over declaration of interests.

Four of Mr Lyon's inquiries into expenses allegations have been suspended while criminal proceedings are considered. They relate to ex-Labour MPs Jim Devine, David Chaytor, and Elliot Morley - who have been charged - and serving Labour MP Denis MacShane - who has not.

A probe into ex-Tory MP David Wilshire's use of allowances has been put on hold because he is unwell.

The commissioner has investigated and rejected 30 complaints against MPs since 2008/09.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride