Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

Stevenage MP Barbara Follett told to repay largest sum

Barbara Follett MP
Ms Follett said she "deeply regrets" the whole expenses scandal

Stevenage MP Barbara Follett has been ordered to repay £42,458; the single largest amount of money following the House of Commons expenses audit.

Labour Minister for the East Ms Follett claimed for security, telephone lines and artwork insurance.

The 67-year-old has already repaid £32,976.17, leaving £9,482.04 which she said she has also now repaid.

In October, four months after the expenses scandal broke, she said she would not stand at the next election.

The House of Commons expense review, headed by Sir Thomas Legg, ordered the repayment of £34,776.30 for mobile security patrols at her second home, as well as £4,454.18, for half the cost of an "excessive" six telephone lines at the property.

She was also overpaid £2,812.95 for a non-allowable insurance premium for fine art, received £221 twice for boiler insurance and £193.78 for pest control at an address which was not her second home.

'Good faith'

In a statement Mrs Follett said: "I have repaid the total amount in full and am pleased that this matter has now been resolved.

"I claimed these amounts in good faith in accordance with the rules at the time.

"This has been a sad and sorry episode in Britain's political life which I deeply regret."

The MP ordered to give back the second largest amount is Conservative MP for North Essex, Bernard Jenkin, who will repay £36,909.

Mr Jenkin appealed against the decision which stated he must repay £63,250, for money spent renting a property from his sister-in-law. The amount was reduced to £36,250.

Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal John Gummer must repay £29,398.

The former cabinet minister claimed for gardening, insect "infestations", removing moles and jackdaw nests from his Suffolk property, and for an annual "rodent service".

In his report, Sir Thomas said the "culture of deference" in the Fees Office had left it "vulnerable to the influence of higher authorities in the House of Commons, from the Speaker down, and of individual MPs".

He added: "In practice, during most of the review period, these influences tended more towards looking after the immediate interests of MPs than to safeguarding propriety in public expenditure."

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