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Westminster correspondent David Porter
"It is understand the committee has now decided neither MP broke parliamentary rules"
 real 56k

Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 14:22 GMT
MPs 'cleared' of breaking rules
John Reid graphic
Dr Reid denies the allegations
A House of Commons committee is expected to clear two Scottish Labour MPs of breaking parliamentary rules.

The standards and privileges committee launched a probe 11 months ago after the Observer newspaper alleged that the MPs used public money to fund Labour's Scottish election campaign.

An article in the newspaper said Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid and Glasgow MP John Maxton paid at least three full-time election campaigners as part-time researchers.

But a ruling, expected on Friday from Elizabeth Filkin, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, is expected to clear both men of any wrong doing.

Elizabeth Filkin
Elizabeth Filkin has been investigating
The original allegation was made by journalist Dean Nelson - now deputy editor of the Sunday Times in Scotland.

He had alleged that a number of campaigners including Dr Reid's son, Kevin, were listed as Commons researchers while working at Labour Scottish headquarters.

Senior Labour sources were reported to have said that the "donations in kind" were one of a number of payments concealed to keep Labour's election spending in last summer's election within the permitted 1.5m limit.

Scottish elections

They reportedly began in May 1998 when Labour was neck and neck with the Scottish National Party for the prize of running Scotland's parliament.

The parliamentary commissioner for standards conducted a 10 month inquiry into the allegations and submitted a report to MPs last month.

But it is understood the committee has decided that neither MP broke parliamentary rules.

Both Dr Reid and Mr Maxton have consistently denied any wrongdoing and co-operated fully with the investigation.

They stressed that they would not comment until the committee's findings were made public.

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