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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
McLeish pays back Officegate cash
Henry McLeish's constituency offices
Mr McLeish sub-let his constituency offices
Henry McLeish has struck a deal with Westminster to settle the row over his office expenses which saw him toppled as first minister.

Mr McLeish has repaid more than 38,500 to Westminster authorities over the "Officegate" affair

The cash represents money paid to Mr McLeish to pay for his constituency offices when he was the MP for Central Fife.

The former first minister resigned from his post when it emerged last year that he had sub-let the offices to outside organisations at the same time as he was claiming full allowances from the public purse.

Henry McLeish
Henry McLeish resigned over the affair

Mr McLeish said the income generated was spent on running his surgery.

The Officegate affair began in Spring 2001, with the first disclosures that part of his constituency office in Glenrothes, Fife, had been sub-let.

As the row gathered momentum Mr McLeish agreed to pay a total of 9,000 to the Westminster Fees Office but insisted he had done nothing wrong.

In an attempt to "clear the air", Mr McLeish disclosed that between 1987 and 2001 when he ceased to be an MP to concentrate on the Scottish Parliament, there had been five sub-lets.

Muddle not fiddle

These brought in a total of 36,122 in rent.

Mr McLeish said he would be prepared to pay back the money if the Westminster Fees Office decided that was needed.

He insisted: "This was a muddle. It was certainly not a fiddle."

Shortly after that disclosure, news emerged of a sixth sub-let, and Mr McLeish announced his resignation.

The total paid to the Fees Office is thought to comprise the figure of 36,122 given at the clear-the-air briefing, plus money relating to the sixth sub-let.

Mr McLeish declined to comment.

Full amount

Confirmation that Mr McLeish has paid in full came from the Fees Office, which said he had paid "the full liability he had accrued," a sum of about 38,500.

"That is the full amount and as far as we are concerned the matter is now closed," said a spokesman at the Fees Office.

Mr McLeish is still being investigated by Fife Police.

The Crown Office said: "The police investigation is still ongoing and as yet, no report has been submitted to the fiscal in Dundee."

The Labour party has refused to approve him as a candidate for next year's Scottish Parliament elections until all outstanding issues have been resolved.

See also:

14 Jun 02 | Scotland
03 May 02 | Scotland
08 Feb 02 | Scotland
31 Jan 02 | Scotland
08 Nov 01 | Politics
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