UK Politics

MP Nadine Dorries repays £3,000 travel expenses

Nadine Dorries MP
Image caption The Tory MP had the whip removed for six months after taking part in a reality TV show in Australia

Nadine Dorries has repaid £3,000 of parliamentary expenses.

Expenses watchdog Ipsa said Ms Dorries had not made any "deliberate attempt to profit" but it ruled she had wrongly claimed £3,000 travel expenses.

The Mid-Bedfordshire MP said last month that she was going to stop claiming expenses, adding it would help her argue for the system to be scrapped.

Ms Dorries questioned why Ipsa had chosen to launch to such "an expensive and time consuming investigation".

In a blog she suggested the investigation may have been timed to undermine her chances of being re-admitted to the Conservative Party in Parliament after she lost the whip for appearing in the television show I'm a Celebrity Get me out of Here without permission.

She wrote: "I am sure it is a coincidence that as the pressure began to mount for my whip to be returned after three months of suspension, wham, I suddenly had an investigation in process."

The provisional report from Ipsa said that an increase in utility bills had raised questions, while her occupancy of her second home was seen to be lower than other MPs and she had claimed for daily return journeys, despite her London home being available.

It said Ms Dorries had not contested the details of her travel claims but said she had outlined several explanations for the other allegations.

Pet dog

The report said: "Whilst undertaking her parliamentary duties, the MP and a dependent family member used the premises during the period when utility bills increased.

"Ms Dorries is a single parent with an elderly pet dog and a dependent family. During the period subject of the complaint, the MP returned to her constituency home to attend to family commitments, including times when a family member and the pet dog suffered illness.

"At the time of taking out a 12-month lease on her current Ipsa-funded property, Ms Dorries was not able to predict her level of occupancy and viewed its use as the most effective way of facilitating her parliamentary function.

"Further, Ms Dorries states that parliamentary business and government legislation had substantially reduced with a commensurate reduction in the number of late-night votes. As a result, and with the location of Ms Dorries' constituency being within a two-hour travel, on occasions the MP was able to travel back home unplanned or at short notice when family circumstances have dictated."

It added: "Ms Dorries believes that she has acted within the principles of the scheme and that there has been no deliberate wrongdoing."

An Ipsa spokesman said: "The compliance officer has found that claims made by Ms Dorries were outside the scheme, and that these claims should be repaid. Ms Dorries has subsequently repaid these claims."

In the statement posted on her website, Ms Dorries said she was "delighted" that Ipsa had made no findings against her, noting that she could have legitimately made more claims than she had.

Her statement said any overpayments had been due to a "technical breach which was Ipsa's fault".

Ms Dorries claimed that Ipsa had failed to pay her £6,000 of salary and failed to mention this in the provisional report, blaming "total incompetence" at the organisation.

She said she believed Ipsa needed fundamental reform leading to the abolition of MPs' expenses.

Her statement added: "Anyway, as everyone knows, I have removed myself from the personal expenses system. I shall use my salary to fund my second home in Westminster and my travel and all other personal expenses, which in effect means I shall be working for free."

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