Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 13:20 UK

Moran's future as MP under review

Esther Rantzen tells the BBC why she wants to be an MP

Labour's ruling National Executive Committee is to review Margaret Moran's future as an MP after widespread criticism of her expenses claims.

She has been referred to a disciplinary body which will consider whether to endorse her as an candidate.

The MP has been under fire since it emerged she spent £22,500 on treating dry rot in her Southampton home, miles from her Luton South constituency.

Gordon Brown said Ms Moran's expenses were "completely unacceptable".

Potential challenge

She designated the Southampton property as her second home, allowing her to claim the money, even though it was 100 miles from her constituency and two hours away from Parliament.

Ms Moran said the claims were approved by the Commons authorities but has agreed to repay the money in light of public concerns about MP's expenses.

TV personality Esther Rantzen has said she is considering standing against the MP at the next general election on an anti-sleaze ticket, saying she is "sick" of the political system.

The BBC's political correspondent Reeta Chakrabarti said Labour had referred Ms Moran's case to a special endorsement panel - a new disciplinary body - for urgent consideration.

"The panel will report back as soon as possible with recommendations to the organisation committee of the NEC on whether to remove Margaret Moran's endorsement to stand for election as a Labour Party candidate," the party said.

Ms Moran is the third MP - after Elliot Morley and David Chaytor - to be referred to the panel over their conduct.

The prime minister has said that no MP found to have "defied the rules" over their expenses claims will be able to represent Labour at the next general election.

However, it is not clear who might qualify for such sanctions as it appears that Ms Moran's claims, and those of nearly all MPs, were within the letter of the rules which existed at the time.

Ms Moran's local constituency party has given her its "unanimous" backing, saying it will not be calling for her resignation.

It ultimately has the power to choose whether to let her stand as Labour candidate or to de-select her but the verdict of the NEC could prove decisive.

Ms Rantzen is weighing up whether to stand in Luton, saying her decision may hinge on what action is taken against Ms Moran.

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