The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has admitted that it has sought to withhold information from the public for fear of embarrassing MPs. The Daily Telegraph used the legal system to force IPSA to release the information in a move which is expected to undermine trust in the organisation which was set up to open up the expenses system.
IPSA deliberately withheld the information that hundreds of MPs have had credit cards suspended, including members of the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet.
Simon Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale who was suspended by Labour for inappropriate texts which he sent to a 17-year old girl, has been forced to repay wrongly claimed expenses.
Danczuk claimed for a £96.50 car parking charge whilst he was actually on holiday in Spain. IPSA, who monitor the expenses of MPs, ordered the money to be returned to the tax-payer. Danczuk has returned the money but rejecting the criticism, saying he could have manipulated the situation to still allow him to claim the expense:
“The alternative to leaving my car parked in Manchester for that week would have been to travel by train from London in order to move that vehicle. By doing so, I could have legitimately claimed up to £187.80 for the train journey. This represents a significantly greater expense to the taxpayer than £96.50 worth of parking”.
The MP has also been forced to return over £11,000 which he wrongly claimed to help support his children in London. An investigation by IPSA found that his claims weren’t valid but Danczuk blamed the “the vague wording of the rules”.
A statement by IPSA said:
“The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the MP obtained an increase to his accommodation expenditure budget by claiming dependant uplifts for his two oldest children for a period of over three years, when, at no point were either of the children routinely resident”.