Tory MP asked to repay £63,000 allowances

A Tory MP has been asked to repay £63,250 in taxpayer-funded second home allowances he spent on renting a farmhouse from his sister-in-law, it emerged today

Bernard Jenkin has urged Sir Thomas Legg to drop the demand as Commons authorities sanctioned the arrangement and failed to tell him when payments to relatives were later outlawed.

But he said he would return the cash - the largest sum known to have been asked of an MP by the review of past claims - if the senior civil servant insisted.

MPs were given three weeks to respond to Sir Thomas's initial findings but Tory leader David Cameron has told any who reject his final ruling will be barred from standing as Conservatives.

Mr Jenkin, the MP for North Essex, claimed second-home allowance from 2004 on a property in Hatfield Peverel belonging to his sister-in-law.

He cleared that at the time with the Commons Fees Office but was not informed when the rules were changed in 2006. Sir Thomas has told him he should pay back the full five years' rent.

The MP told local newspaper the East Anglian Daily Times: "I have pointed out that the House of Commons Fees Office was fully aware from the outset that this was a family arrangement.

"I have sent Sir Thomas copies of the letters and emails which show I sought to keep within the letter and the spirit of the rules at all times.

"No question has been raised about my honesty, integrity or openness and I have reiterated to him that I will pay back whatever is finally recommended at the end of the process."