Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 13:02 UK

DUP MPs to repay 14k in expenses

William McCrea
William McCrea has been asked to repay more than 5,000

Seven DUP MPs have been asked to pay back a total of more than £14,000 in expenses under a reassessment of claims by an independent auditor.

William McCrea is to repay £5,329, the highest amount requested.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson and North Belfast representative Nigel Dodds are not required to repay any money.

Among the other parties Martin McGuinness, Sylvia Hermon and Mark Durkan have been asked to make repayments.

MPs' expenses claims have been scrutinised by auditor Sir Thomas Legg. He is taking a tougher line than the Commons Fees Office which originally approved the expenses.

The South Antrim MP William McCrea said his repayments related to furniture he purchased, duplicated service charges and a duplicated allowance for a TV licence.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell has been asked to repay £2,656.

He said this related to four items, including accommodation expenses which exceeded the maximum claim allowed.

Iris Robinson, wife of party leader Peter, was told to repay £2,274.

Questioning

The Strangford MP Iris Robinson said her repayment request related to three items, all of which she said she was questioning.

"One relates to the only item of furniture where I believe Sir Thomas has not properly applied the guidelines, one is the identical issue in respect of Peter Robinson (mortgage interest) and the remaining item was for a service charge which was duplicated, but which we believed the amount paid simply reduced a subsequent bill."

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he had been asked to repay £1,964, in relation to accommodation costs, mobile phone charges and a service charge.

IN DETAIL
Expenses to be repaid

William McCrea, DUP, £5,329

Martin McGuinness, SF, £3,000

Gregory Campbell, DUP, £2,656

Iris Robinson, DUP, £2,274

Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP, £1,964

Sylvia Hermon, UUP, £1,365

Ian Paisley, DUP, £1,181

David Simpson, DUP, £400

Peter Robinson, DUP, £299

Mark Durkan, SDLP, £236

Former party leader Ian Paisley has been asked for £1,181.

Upper Bann representative David Simpson has been asked to return £400 in respect of a claim he made for food and party leader Peter Robinson is to repay £229 in relation to mortgage interest.

Mr Robinson said there would be "no equivocation or quibbling over any repayment and that all payments should be made immediately".

"Where there are genuine disputes about his provisional conclusions these can be followed up but we will accept entirely Sir Thomas Legg's final determination," he added.

At the height of the expenses controversy in June Mr Robinson paid back £775 in relation to a claim for a brief case and computer case while at that time his colleague David Simpson returned £1,482.

Mr Simpson believes the £400 he has now been asked for has already been repaid is questioning the accuracy of Sir Thomas's recommendation.

Hotel

Sinn Fein's Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness is giving back an overpayment of £3,000 for two months rent for his London accommodation.

In a statement the party said: "This error was not picked up on at the time either by the Commons Fees Office or by Sinn Fein.

"Having had this matter brought to our attention we have immediately taken steps to refund this overpayment. At no time was any money paid directly to Martin McGuinness."

The party's five other MPs have not been asked to make repayments.

On Tuesday, SDLP said leader Mark Durkan was recommended to repay £236 relating to overpayment of council tax in 2006 and his wife's share of a London hotel bill.

Mr Durkan said that while some of Sir Thomas's findings seemed petty, close scrutiny of MPs expenses was justified..

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"Obviously this has happened in the context where there have been outlandish and outrageous claims made and there has been very poor administration

"So an exercise like Thomas Legg has carried out was needed," he said.

"If that exercise turns out to be excessive in the right direction then we're just going to have to live with that."

In June Mr Durkan returned £1,124 in relation to a deposit on a flat and an overpayment for a utility bill.

The South Belfast MP, Alasdair McDonnell, said he had not been asked to repay any of his claims.

The SDLP MP for South Down, Eddie McGrady, has made no statement so far.

UUP MP Lady Sylvia Hermon said she was asked to repay £1,365.

Lady Hermon said she had received a letter about repaying rent on a London flat which had been paid twice in the same month by the Fees Office.

"In January 2007, my then landlord increased the rent of the London flat and he also wrote to me asking for the rent to be paid a month in advance," she said.

"Consequently, there was indeed a double payment of rent by the Fees Office in the month of January, but none was then paid in February."

Lady Hermon said she would be querying the repayment request.

In May Lady Hermon repaid £2,700 after being overpaid for rent.



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