Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 12:54 UK

100K mortgage claim by Woodward

By Stephen Walker
BBC Northern Ireland political reporter

Shaun Woodward
Shaun Woodward is the wealthiest member of the Cabinet

Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward claimed £100,000 to help pay his mortgage interest, according to leaked details of his expenses.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Woodward, the richest Cabinet member, claimed the amount over four years.

The newspaper published details of all Cabinet ministers' expense claims.

Married to a member of the Sainsbury family, Mr Woodward is worth an estimated £15m and owns properties across the world.

The secretary of state since 2007, he has had the use of Hillsborough Castle and declares rental income from properties in England.

He doesn't take his full ministerial salary, but in common with other MPs he does claim expenses.

Details published on Friday show that the Labour MP for St Helens has claimed for phone bills, council tax, and nearly £2,000 towards utility bills.



The newspaper also reports that he also claimed more modest amounts for his staff.

They include a Muller yoghurt costing 38p and a pizza costing £1.06, both bought for one of his assistants.

The claims also show the secretary of state's apparent liking for Gold Blend coffee - £11.22 per tin, Tetley tea bags, £3.85 a box and Diet Coke at £12.56 for that regular order.

He also claims for the satirical magazine Private Eye as well as the Guardian, the Times, the Mirror, the Sun and - perhaps ironically given the source of the revelations - the Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper also reports that he claimed for a second-hand book.

A spokeswoman for Mr Woodward said details of his claims are published every year and they are within the rules and guidelines.

The publication of Cabinet ministers' expenses comes after MPs voted to change some of the rules and comes as a review of the entire expenses system is under way. More revelations are expected over the coming days.

The claims of all Westminster politicians including all 18 local MPs were due to be published in July.

In recent weeks, MPs have had the chance to go through their receipts and black out personal details before publication.

It's understood that 400 of them have completed this task, so their claims are ready to be published.



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