Watchdog takes swipe at party leaders over leaks

Standards watchdog Sir Christopher Kelly took a swipe at party leaders today over "frustrating" leaks of his MPs' expenses reform proposals.

He complained that partial details of the Committee on Standards in Public Life's recommendations appeared in the media "within hours" of confidential briefings last week.

He said the information had not come from his side and insisted the reaction to the leaks had not forced any change to the reforms.

Opening a press conference to launch the report, he said that Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg had all agreed, at the height of the scandal, to accept his report in full.

"After the report had been finalised, I accordingly briefed them, in confidence, about what it contained," he said.

"I did so in the expectation that they would be pressed, as soon as the report was published, to say whether it had their full support, and I wanted them to be in a position to say 'yes'.

"Partial accounts of what I said began to appear in the media within hours of those meetings.

"You can draw your own conclusions about how that happened. I do know that the media briefings did not come from the committee."

He went on: "The subsequent commentary, some of it based on an incomplete understanding of what was in the report, must have been extremely irritating to those affected by it who were not yet able to see it in full.

"I understand that frustration. Indeed, I share it. It has also been very frustrating for the committee.

"It goes without saying that it has not caused us to alter our recommendations in any way at all."