Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 13:24 UK

Devine faces new expenses claims

Jim Devine
The Livingston MP blames a former employee for the claims

Labour MP Jim Devine has defended himself against new revelations about his expenses.

BBC Scotland has discovered that he claimed for new wood flooring for his London flat twice in three months.

Mr Devine, who was deselected by his party this week over other expenses, said the claims related to two different parts of the property.

He said one was for flooring in the bathroom and kitchen and the second was for the lobby, bedroom and other areas.

The Livingston MP has also blamed a former employee who he has accused of fraud.

The MP said he discovered many other claims which he said had been made falsely in his name.

He added that he had discussed the issue with the fees office on Wednesday.

Police say they had no record of any former employee being charged with fraud in connection with his expenses.

BBC Scotland learned he submitted a claim in March 2006 for £690.

In June that year submitted a further claim - purporting to be from the same company - for £1,800 for laminate flooring for the same property which Mr Devine had just bought from another Labour MP.

Blacked out

It has also emerged that the international development secretary has paid back more than £12,000 in allowances to the House of Commons.

Douglas Alexander, the Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, has refunded contributions towards the mortgage on his constituency home because he was receiving rental income from a tenant in a flat next to the property.

A spokesman for Mr Alexander said he made the repayments "for the avoidance of doubt" and had previously deducted rental income from his property claims.

reciepts
Key details of claims were blacked out for security reasons

The expenses claims of every MP for the past four years have been published online, but with some key details blacked out.

Commons authorities published the details after a long-running Freedom of Information battle.

The addresses that claims relate to - and correspondence - have been removed on privacy and security grounds.

This means it is not possible to see if MPs "flipped" second homes - a key part of the Daily Telegraph's revelations from its leaked version of the data.

The invoice for the contentious rewiring of Mr Devine's London flat was mostly blacked out. He claimed £2,157 for the work in 2007.

But the invoice was from a company that did not exist and had a false VAT number and neither the company, its address or the VAT number are legible on the released document.

Mr Devine said he had done nothing wrong.

First Minister Alex Salmond defended a £14,100 legal fee claim for an attempt to impeach Tony Blair as prime minister, over the Iraq war.

Mr Salmond, said he claimed for £790 of the total cost, which was shared among nine members.

'Illegal war'

He said it was a legitimate expense to hold the government to account.

The SNP launched its legal bid to impeach Tony Blair in 2004, claiming the invasion of Iraq to be illegal.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond, who sits as an MSP and MP, said: "Given everything we know about the illegality of the war, the fact the country was taken to war on a totally false prospectus, then those parties who stood against that and held the prime minister to account for doing that are proud of the actions they took.

The legal bill - split among nine Scottish and Welsh Nationalist MPs - was paid to Matrix Chambers, the legal firm where Cherie Blair works.

Elsewhere, Liberal Democrat Scottish affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael claimed a £90 summons fee for late payment of council tax in May 2007.

The MP for Orkney and Shetland told BBC Scotland he would check his records and, if he claimed money inappropriately, would pay it back.

And Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has defended claims for nearly £300 for the printing of 5,000 Christmas cards in 2006.

A spokesman for Mr Murphy, who was employment minister at the time, said the cost of the cards was shared with Labour MSP for Eastwood, Ken Macintosh, and contained details of future constituency surgery dates for the politicians.



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