Stevenage MP Barbara Follett's 'deep regret' over expenses scandal

MP for Stevenage Barbara Follett has expressed deep regret over the expenses scandal which has seen her pay back more than �42,000 – the highest of any politician. Sir Thomas Legg s report, published yesterday (Thursday), recommends Mrs Follett repay �4

MP for Stevenage Barbara Follett has expressed 'deep regret' over the expenses scandal which has seen her pay back more than �42,000 - the highest of any politician.

Sir Thomas Legg's report, published yesterday (Thursday), recommends Mrs Follett repay �42, 458.21 for claims made between April 2004 and November 2008.

Most of the money - �34,776.30 - was claimed for mobile security patrols around her second home in London, with a further �8,908.36 being spent on six telephone lines at the same address. She will have to repay half of the phone claims, �4,454.18, which Sir Thomas' report described as "excessive".

She also claimed �2,812.95 for household insurance for fine art, �193.78 for pest control and �221 for boiler insurance.


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Mrs Follett said in a statement: "This has been a sad and sorry episode in Britain's political life which I deeply regret.

"I have repaid the total amount in full and am pleased that this matter has now been resolved. I claimed these amounts in good faith in accordance with the rules at the time. But as an independent review has now shown these to be vague and deeply flawed, I feel it is only right to repay them."

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Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, was originally recommended to repay �41,057.36, but this request has been quashed on appeal. The Legg report states: "Mr Lilley purchased his second home in 2003 using a loan from his wife, but since this happened before the review period I make no comment on this arrangement.

"In 2005, he replaced that loan with a mortgage held jointly with his wife, repaying her the original loan. Over the rest of the review period, he was paid a total of �41,057.36 for mortgage interest on this second loan. In substance, this loan appears to have released capital, which was not permitted under the ACA other than for the purpose of improving or repairing the home."

Mr Lilley is not required to repay any expenses claims. He said: "I was confident my own claims would not be a problem.

"Nonetheless, the whole system of allowances was indefensible and we MPs have only ourselves to blame for damage it has caused to the reputation of Parliament.

"It is important that Parliament and the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority now move swiftly to replace the discredited old system by one which is as transparent as possible and reduces the value of allowances to a minimum."

Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire, has been asked to repay �1,314.37.

The Legg report reveals Ms Dorries was paid �882.31 twice for hotel expenses in January 2007, she was also paid �161.04 twice for internet service in April 2007, and she was further paid �271.02 twice for a telephone bill in 2008/09.

A spokesman for Ms Dorries said: "Nadine has never over-claimed or mis-claimed. On each occasion it appears the account clerk paid both the invoice and then the statement, whereas only the invoice should have been paid. Nadine has always trusted the advice slips sent to her by the accounts dept and has never, until now, felt the need to query.

"If she had lodged an appeal, it is probable that she would have nothing whatsoever to pay."

The Legg report states that Oliver Heald, MP for North East Hertfordshire, and Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire, have "no issues" and therefore do not have to repay any expenses.

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