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EDITIONS
Monday, 22 July, 2002, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
McLeish expenses row resurfaces
Jim Wallace (lef) and Henry McLeish
Mr McLeish faces renewed political pressure
Scotland's former first minister Henry McLeish is facing fresh political pressure after the row over his office expenses resurfaced.

Mr McLeish is being accused of hypocrisy amid allegations that he used taxpayers' money - which he said he would not accept - to pay off his debts to the House of Commons.

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

Fiona Hyslop
Fiona Hyslop: "Failure to be upfront and open"
The former first minister was entitled to a golden handshake payment of 30,000 when he stood down as a Westminster MP to concentrate on the Scottish Parliament.

It has been alleged that he accepted the money and used it to pay back the Commons for the expenses he was not entitled to.

Mr McLeish and Westminster officials have refused to comment on the issue.

However, the Scottish National Party accused him of hypocrisy and said he should consider his position.

'Bail him out'

Mr McLeish became embroiled in the Officegate row in 2001 after it emerged he had sub-let his constituency office to outside organisations.

He agreed to pay 9,000 to the Westminster Fees Office and insisted he had not done anything wrong.

However, the disclosure of further sub-lets led to his resignation and he eventually paid back 38,500.

The SNP's Fiona Hyslop MSP said Mr McLeish had initially said he would not take advantage of the pay-off.

Henry McLeish's constituency office
Mr McLeish resigned over Officegate

"He is taking the Scottish people for mugs, first of all making a virtue of not taking his Westminster pay-off and now going back on his word through getting the taxpayer to bail him out," she said.

"It is now time for Henry McLeish to consider his position as he can no longer be trusted to be taken at his word.

"He must apologise to the Scottish people and the parliament for his continual failure to be upfront and open about his whole scandal and come clean now."

Mr McLeish is still being investigated by Fife Police and the Labour Party is refusing to endorse him as a candidate for the parliamentary elections in 2003 until the matter has been resolved.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Kirsten Campbell reports
"Mr McLeish had nothing to say about the latest allegations"
See also:

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