Sir Peter Viggers: 'Duck island' expenses claim MP dies aged 82

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Peter Viggers
Image caption,
Born in Gosport, Sir Peter Viggers served as the town's MP for 36 years

The Conservative MP who infamously filed an expenses claim for a floating garden duck island has died aged 82.

Sir Peter Viggers was MP for Gosport in Hampshire from 1974 until 2010 and had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Caroline Dinenage, his successor in the seat, said he had been "passionate" about the area.

He was asked to resign when it emerged he had claimed £1,645 for the ornamental duck island.

Sir Peter died on 19 March, although news of his death has only just emerged.

He was born in Gosport, went to school in Portsmouth and studied history and law at Cambridge.

Sir Peter entered the House of Commons in 1974 and served as a junior minister in the Northern Ireland Office under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The floating Stockholm duck house became emblematic of the expenses scandal

The Conservative leader of Gosport Borough Council, Mark Hook, said: "I certainly remember him working extremely hard for the people of Gosport.

"He was certainly a great advocate to keep the MoD and the navy in place in Gosport, and always fought to ensure the armed forces were looked after."

Ms Dinenage said: "I was saddened to hear the news that my predecessor, Sir Peter Viggers, has lost his brave battle with motor neurone disease.

"Born and bred here, he was passionate about this area and its people. My thoughts are with his family."

During the expenses scandal when the Daily Telegraph revealed hundreds of MPs' claims, it emerged Sir Peter had filed a £1,645 receipt for a floating Stockholm duck house plus £30,000 in other gardening costs.

He was asked to resign by then party leader David Cameron and later described himself as "ashamed and humiliated" by his claim, which was rejected by the Commons authorities.

He said his ducks had "never liked" the island and it was later auctioned, raising £1,700 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Sir Peter was also criticised by family members of patients who died after being given opiate drugs at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1987 and 2001.

He repeatedly questioned the time and money being spent on the investigation into overdoses which were later found to have caused the deaths of up to 656 patients.