One In Three MPs Abused The Expenses System

(Daily Mail) – ONE IN THREE MPS have been found guilty of abusing their expenses, laying bare the true scale of the scandal.

About 200 are being sent final demands by auditor Sir Thomas Legg today to hand back up to £1 million of taxpayers’ cash.

At least one MP couple will be asked to repay more than £100,000, senior Commons sources said.

A further three dozen MPs will get new demands averaging £20,000 after Sir Thomas scrutinised their mortgage papers and found they had made unreasonable claims.

He has decided not to accept excuses or delays and will publish his report naming and shaming the culprits on December 14.

In a double blow for MPs, the Daily Mail also revealed that the enforcer brought in to introduce a new expenses system has decided not to authorise a major pay rise for five years.

Nearly 40 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for an increase in their £65,000 salaries.

But Sir Ian Kennedy, chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, has made clear privately that he wants reform to ‘bed in’ first.

A source who has spoken to him said: ‘The public has to see the new system working and trust it before we can even talk about that. MPs can scream all they want but it’s not going to happen.’

Sir Thomas had already ordered 166 MPs to repay money totalling £300,000 after overclaiming for items such as gardening and cleaning — an average of £1,800 each.

But at least another 35 will be asked to hand back sums averaging £20,000 in mortgage interest claims, clawing back another £700,000 for the public purse.

A senior Commons source said: ‘The second wave is a small number of larger demands, after the large number of small demands.

‘The second wave are demands that you really wouldn’t want to receive. If you’ve got a dodgy mortgage, it’s going to be a large amount of money.

‘One couple has a bill between them that is in excess of £100,000. I have seen nothing to suggest that a final bill of £1 million is wide of the mark.’

Allies of Sir Thomas say he has decided to come down particularly hard on MPs who paid money to members of their own families.

‘He has taken the view that if it looks like a scam, and smells like a scam, that it is a scam,’ a Commons official said.

The demands do not even include the half dozen MPs facing investigation by the police for possible fraud. They include Elliott Morley and David Chaytor, the Labour MPs who both claimed for ‘phantom mortgages’ that had been paid off.

One couple who are widely thought to be in the firing line are Sir Nicholas and Lady Ann Winterton.

The Tory MPs paid off their mortgage, put their taxpayer-funded second home in a trust set up for their children, and then claimed £83,000 to pay rent on the property to the trust.

Tory Bernard Jenkin has been asked to return a large sum after paying £63,000 in rent to his sister-in-law. He has said he will pay back whatever is recommended in Sir Thomas’s final report.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards was last night asked to launch an investigation into whether Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle used taxpayers’ money to pay for a report he commissioned from his daughter Lucy’s firm.