Page last updated at 19:40 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 20:40 UK

Expenses row MP is standing down

Mr Steen said he did not want the Conservatives to lose the seat of Totnes

Under-fire Devon MP Anthony Steen has said he will not be standing as a candidate at the next general election.

The long-standing Tory MP for Totnes was alleged by the Daily Telegraph to have claimed more than £87,000 over four years for his country home.

The work included paying a forestry expert to inspect trees.

Mr Steen said the focus for all Conservatives should be on winning the next election and that he did not want to "distract from the real story".

He always acted honourably and with complete integrity
Heather Burwin, Totnes Conservative Association

Former barrister Mr Steen, 69, has been an MP in south Devon since 1983, first for South Hams and then for Totnes when the seat was created in 1997.

He said he had been made to look like a grandee and, at the time of the allegation, he told the BBC he was being "pilloried" for the transparency of his claims.

He said of his decision not to stand: "The real issue in Britain today is who can fix the country. The real debate - the real choice - is Brown or Cameron.

"The real focus for all Conservatives should be on winning the next election. For that reason, and because I don't want to distract from the real story here, I have decided not to stand at the next election."

In a letter replying to his decision to stand down, Conservative Leader David Cameron said Mr Steen had "never lost the desire and ability to fight for the underdog, and that is to your huge credit".

He added: "That you have continued to win elections, during good times and bad times for our party, is a mark of the high regard in which you are held."

'Complete integrity'

Heather Burwin, chairwoman of the Totnes Conservative Association, said the constituency had been "extremely fortunate" to have Mr Steen as an MP and he would be "missed greatly".

She said: "He is one of the hardest working MPs in Parliament and always acted honourably and with complete integrity to both his association and his constituents."

Mr Steen designated his constituency property as his second home and then claimed £87,729 over four years, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The paper said leaked details showed £597.14 was claimed for lights, £120 was claimed for fencing, a £459 visit by a woodland consultant who looked into protection from rabbits, and £1,755.89 for fixing the water supply from the spring and borehole.

Scaffolding hire for chimney repairs and outside decoration, repairing a stone wall, sowing grass and "removing boulders" were also claimed for.

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