The Sketch: So what if Gordon had his flat done six times a week? He's messy

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The Independent Online

There was Elliot Morley in the cafe queue looking as cheerful as always. No mean feat, what with those claims he was making for a mortgage he didn't have and the subsequent investigations into it, and them and him. "Had your letter, Elliott? Anything in it?"

"No, I'm in the clear." What was that? New slang for six months in Wormwood Scrubs? "Completely clear, no repayments asked for."

This Legg business gets more and more peculiar. How come Miliband (D) is repaying £400 of mis-mortgage and Morley gets a free pass? And those retrospective judgements – I hope that principle doesn't get into their legislative heads. And how can anyone outside a Soviet central price directorate say what cleaners should cost?

MPs can't bleat about it so others have to do their bleating for them. Mark Durkan's letter asked for a payback for half a £136 bill for three nights in a Paddington hotel in 2005. He'd got a double room you see, and only used half of it himself; his wife had come over from Northern Ireland to see his maiden speech.

Had Legg been fining the Member for Foyle for excessive parsimony it would be understandable. A £44-a-night hotel in Paddington! Did it have a bed? Were there chamber pots under it?

A Northern Labour MP faces a cash call – he'd been overpaid £700. But then he was later underpaid £1,200 and the reconciliation happened at the start of the following tax year and... It's not something he can argue in public without a united howl of not getting it.

This is not sensible, proportionate – or even well done. One Labour MP, who has rented throughout his decades in Parliament, is being asked to provide receipts from his landlord. He is doing so. But that's the wrong requirement. A corrupt claimant can provide corrupt receipts. It's bank statements that Legg should ask for, if he wants proper evidence.

Why don't you go in to bat for Gordon Brown, I asked one Tory. That way, it wouldn't sound like bleating. He was more news-wise than I. However bleat-free, it would come across as bleating.

So as we're in the silence of the lambs, can we say this: Gordon paid £10-odd an hour six times a week to have his two-bed flat done. Is that excessive? He's messy. Maybe it would only take half an hour a day. But cleaners won't come for half an hour, you have to pay them the... What in the name of our sweet suffering saviour are we doing discussing the Prime Minister's arrangement with his cleaner?

But maybe it'll all end well. They can only hope. The Silence of the Lambs ended well, didn't it?