Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 15:06 UK

Fraud challenge to home secretary

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith
Mr Weaver alleges Ms Smith defrauded the public purse

A man has appeared in court to try to start a private prosecution against the home secretary over her expense claims.

Anthony Weaver, from Holborn in London, applied for a summons before a district judge in Jacqui Smith's constituency in Redditch, Worcestershire.

He alleges she defrauded the public purse of between £116,000 and £200,000 by claiming her main residence was her sister's London house.

The judge adjourned the case, advising Mr Weaver to contact Scotland Yard.

"I am not going to grant or dismiss the summons," said district judge Bruce Morgan, sitting at Redditch Magistrates' Court.

"If you believe a Member of Parliament is guilty of fraud go to your nearest magistrates court, type out four lines alleging the fraud and ask for a summons.
Anthony Weaver

"It is my belief that the course on which this should proceed is by you making a complaint to the Metropolitan Police and finding out whether or not they are prepared to carry out an investigation.

"If they decide not to do so, that does not deprive you of your right to come back to court."

Mr Weaver, 62, said he wanted to prosecute Ms Smith under Section 2 (1) of the Fraud Act 2006.

He told the judge he could provide witnesses to testify that Ms Smith only slept at her sister's on average three times a week and that her main home was in Redditch.

Outside court, Mr Weaver said he was disappointed to leave without a summons but would consider contacting Scotland Yard although he said he thought it was "a dead end" and that he been "fobbed off".

There is "enormous anger" across the country about MPs' expense claims and he said he wants more members of the public to follow his example.

He said: "If you believe a Member of Parliament is guilty of fraud, go to your nearest magistrates court, type out four lines alleging the fraud and ask for a summons."

The case will be heard again at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on 26 June.

'Fully abided'

A complaint was made in February to the parliamentary "sleaze" watchdog about Ms Smith claiming allowances for a second home while living as a lodger with her sister in south-east London.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, John Lyon, wrote to Ms Smith, asking for her explanation about the £116,000 she had claimed since becoming an MP.

But the home secretary has insisted that she "fully abided" by the rules in designating her sister's house as her main residence, allowing her to claim payments on her Redditch constituency home which she shares with her husband and children.

A spokeswoman for Ms Smith's office declined to comment.

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