Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Saturday, 16 May 2009 17:49 UK

Labour MP suspended over expenses

David Chaytor
David Chaytor was paid thousands for a mortgage on a Westminster flat

MP David Chaytor has been suspended by the Parliamentary Labour Party amid allegations he claimed money for a mortgage he had already paid off.

He is the second Labour MP to be suspended and the latest from both main parties to face investigation amid continuing controversy over expenses.

The Daily Telegraph says the Bury North MP took nearly £13,000 for the flat in London after it was paid off in 2004.

Saturday's Telegraph makes allegations against several Labour and Tory MPs.

Mr Chaytor is referring himself to the MPs standards watchdog over the matter.

He was quoted by the Telegraph as saying he had made an "unforgivable error in my accounting procedures for which I apologise unreservedly".

EXPENSES ROW CASUALTIES
Elliot Morley - suspended from parliamentary Labour Party after admitting claiming £16,000 for a mortgage he had already paid off
Shahid Malik - resigned as justice minister pending inquiry into his expenses
Andrew MacKay - quit as parliamentary aide to David Cameron over "unacceptable" expenses claim

He reportedly told the paper he would immediately arrange repayment to the House of Commons fees office.

Mr Chaytor's wife Sheena said her husband "was very shocked when he heard" of the claims around his expenses, adding that he was "flabbergasted, he could not believe it".

She said: "He has made a really stupid mistake. It was a mistake but I do not suppose anybody will believe that. I hope so though."

Mr Chaytor is the latest of several MPs to face investigation or disciplinary over their expenses, including former farming minister Elliot Morley, who has also been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Peter Kenyon, a member of Labour's national executive committee, said MPs who had abused the system could find themselves deselected by the party.

He said it was a matter of deciding which claims were "dodgy".

Three types of transgression - possible fraud, MPs playing the property market for personal gain, and extravagant and unjustifiable claims for goods and services - had been identified, he said.

"What we would expect is that the NEC, at its meeting on Tuesday, will clarify the rules that would apply in the cases that would appear to us and to the general public to be incontrovertible and where decisive action has got to be taken," he added.

String of allegations

The Telegraph says Mr Chaytor "flipped" the designation of his second home six times, including once to a house registered in his son's name.

Other allegations from Saturday's Telegraph include:

• Labour MP, Chris Bryant is accused by the paper of flipping his second home twice in two years. Mr Bryant describes the allegations as unfounded and inaccurate.

• Former long-serving Labour MP Tam Dalyell is said to have attempted to claim £18,000 for bookcases, two months before retiring from Parliament in 2005.

He said the Commons fees office eventually paid about £7,800, adding that he was he was "entirely relaxed" about the allegations.

DAVID CHAYTOR
Former lecturer, once head of continuing education at the Manchester College of Arts and Technology
Elected to the marginal seat of Bury North in 1997
Sits on the Children, Schools and Families Committee and the Environmental Audit Committee
Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Unite union
President of Brooksbottom Cricket Club and Bury Horticultural Society
Married with three children

• Veteran Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman is said to have claimed £1,851 for a rug from a New York antique centre and tried to claim more than £8,800 for a television.

The paper says he has offered to repay the money for the rug and that he described the television claim as "a bit daft". Sir Gerald has since declined to comment on the matters to reporters.

• Conservative MP for Totnes in Devon, Anthony Steen, is said to have claimed £87,000 over four years for his country home, including paying a forestry expert to inspect his trees.

He told the BBC he was being "pilloried" for the transparency of his claims and that he had never claimed for mortgage interest on the property. He described the expenses system as "appalling" and "unworkable".

• Liberal Democrat culture spokesman and Teignbridge MP Richard Younger-Ross is revealed to have claimed more than £4,000 for mirrors, a hi-fi, and a £1,475 chest of drawers for his rented London flat. He told the paper he had repaid the money.

• Tory MP Nadine Dorries denies Daily Telegraph allegations that she spent only free weekends and holidays in the property she calls her main home.

Another Tory MP Julian Lewis has released a statement on his website after reportedly being told by the Sunday Telegraph that his claims would be among the next batch published.

The New Forest East MP is said to have claimed more than £7,000 for redecorating his second home and had a claim for £6,000 for wooden flooring rejected.

Mr Lewis told the Press Association the expenses system was "rotten," but said he would be "astonished" if asked to repay any money.

Anthony Steen MP: 'If they said it was not within the rules, I wouldn't have claimed'

Former independent MP Martin Bell, who was elected on an anti-sleaze platform in 1997, says corruption now "seems to be endemic" in the Commons.

He told BBC One's The Politics Show, to be broadcast on Sunday at 1200 BST: "What we're looking for is remorse, contrition, by-elections, de-selections, maybe even prosecutions."

It was "not enough" for MPs with controversial expense claims to say what they did within the rules or to pay the money back.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police Service and Crown Prosecution Service are due to meet next week to discuss whether a criminal investigation should be launched into some of the Telegraph's allegations about MPs.

It is thought this was partly prompted by a number of complaints from members of the public.



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