Miller expenses claims: Shapps urges an end to controversy

Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps

Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps

In the wake of a mounted criticism over Miller over-claimed expenses, Conservative chairman Grant Shapps has urged to “draw a line” under the controversy, as Labour party asked Prime Minister David Cameron to show “leadership” and decision making over the affair.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller is also facing growing pressure after the Daily Telegraph released an audio tape of a telephonic conversation between her aide Jo Hindley and a reporter investigating her expenses claims.

The tape has revealed that the culture secretary’s special advisor “flagged up” the fact that the Cabinet minister would be meeting the paper’s then editor Tony Gallagher regarding the Leveson report into press standards – something which was interpreted as a threat at that time.

In the meantime, Mrs Miller has also been accused of bullying the MPs watchdog after she wrote a detailed intimidating letter to the parliamentary commissioner investigating her expenses claims during the lengthy inquiry.

Commissioner Kathryn Hudson had recommended after the probe that Mrs Miller should pay back £45,000 in expenses for a house which she shared with her parents, but the cross-party House of Commons Standards Committee overruled the watchdog’s decision and established that she would only repay £5,800 in over-claimed mortgage interest that she deliberately claimed.

Following the instructions of the committee, Mrs Miller has also made a 32-second apology to the Commons on Thursday and won the backing of Mr Cameron.

But Labour MPs have insisted the police to examine the expenses claims case and demanded the publication of the full minutes of the committee’s meetings to discuss the case behind closed doors.

However, the Conservative chairman has said there was nowhere left for the case against Mrs Miller to go as he has told:  “The main accusation was thrown out.

“There was a matter for which she’s apologised – partly the amount of time it took to get the information together.

“Maria Miller has entirely accepted (the committee’s) recommendations; she’s come to Parliament and done that. The Prime Minister has accepted that. It doesn’t seem to me there’s much other place for it to go.”

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