Page last updated at 21:19 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 22:19 UK

MP apologises for expenses rant

Anthony Steen MP
Anthony Steen said he did not know "what the fuss is about"

A Devon MP embroiled in a row about his expenses has "unreservedly apologised" for saying the public should not have been allowed to see what he claimed.

Totnes Conservative MP Anthony Steen was alleged by the Daily Telegraph to have claimed more than £87,000 over four years for his country home.

On Radio 4's The World At One, he said the public had no right to interfere with his private life.

He later said he was "deeply upset" during the interview and over-reacted.

But shadow foreign secretary William Hague described Mr Steen's comments as "ridiculous".

During the interview, former barrister Mr Steen, 69, claimed ministers had "mucked up the system" by introducing the Freedom of Information Act.

He also suggested his critics were "jealous" because he lived in a large house that resembled Royal residence Balmoral, and had trees in the grounds that needed lopping.

He said in the interview: "What right does the public have to interfere with my private life? None."

However, in a statement on Thursday, he said he was apologising for his comments which were recorded on Wednesday night because he had been "deeply upset with the situation which resulted in me overreacting".

He said: "I am sorry that in the heat of the moment I said inappropriate things that weren't as measured as I would have liked about the Freedom of Information Act, which I entirely support."

Steen house
Mr Steen claimed for work on his constituency home

Mr Steen 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 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.

Meanwhile, two other Devon MPs have published details of their expenses on their websites.

Conservative Devon South West MP Gary Streeter has published details of his second home expenses.

Mr Streeter said his constituency home expenses were all claimed "within the letter and spirit of the rules".

Alison Seabeck, Labour MP for Plymouth Devonport, said she had revealed some of her claims because she knew people in her constituency were "angry and confused".

Print Sponsor

MPs publish expenses on websites
21 May 09 |  Devon
Expenses row MP is standing down
20 May 09 |  Devon
MP defends 'mansion' work claim
16 May 09 |  Devon
MP pays back furniture expenses
15 May 09 |  England
MPs reject claims on allowances
13 May 09 |  Cornwall

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific