Brown orders probe into ex-minister’s expenses

Gordon Brown today ordered Labour’s chief whip to probe details of ex-minister Elliot Morley’s £16,000 (€17,807) expenses claim for mortgage interest he did not pay.

Gordon Brown today ordered Labour’s chief whip to probe details of ex-minister Elliot Morley’s £16,000 (€17,807) expenses claim for mortgage interest he did not pay.

The British Prime Minister had urgent talks with Nick Brown this morning and is expected to have further talks with him later this afternoon when he returns from Labour’s European and local election launch in Derbyshire.

Mr Morley has already been hauled in to see the chief whip. The Prime Minister was said by aides to be “very concerned” about the allegations facing Mr Morley.

Labour’s ultimate sanction would be to withdraw the party whip from the Scunthorpe MP, cutting him adrift to decide whether to stand as an independent at the next election or quit parliament.

The expenses scandal also claimed its first resignation today when Tory leader David Cameron’s parliamentary aide Andrew MacKay quit his post.

The Bracknell MP said he had made an “error of judgment” on his second homes claims after Mr Cameron described them as “unacceptable”.

Mr MacKay, who is married to Bromsgrove MP Julie Kirkbride, claimed the full second-home allowance for interest on their joint mortgage for a London home until April this year.

At the same time his wife also claimed the full annual sum for mortgage interest on a constituency home.

Mr MacKay said: “I have clearly made an error of judgment for which I profusely apologise and I’ve done what I think is the right thing.”

Mr Morley was disclosed by the Daily Telegraph to have continued claiming mortgage interest payments for 18 months after the loan had already been paid off.

He told the Telegraph that he did not believe he had committed an offence.

“I have made a mistake, I apologise for that and I take full responsibility. My priority was to repay and if I suffer financially as a result of that, I have only myself to blame,” he said.

In an interview with the Scunthorpe Telegraph, Mr Morley said: “I accept I have made a mistake and have rectified it in full.

“I deeply apologise for such sloppy accounting in a very loose and shambolic allowance system but there is nobody to blame but myself and I take full responsibility for this. I apologise unreservedly.

“I have always given the people of Scunthorpe my total commitment and although I will be quite rightly criticised for this, I will continue to do my duty to constituents and will also explain the situation in full to my local party.”

Aides to the Prime Minister said there were still facts to be established about Mr Morley’s claims by the Chief Whip, and further talks would be held later today.

The row has once again overshadowed what should have been Labour’s day in the spotlight, launching its campaign for MEP and council elections on June 4.

TaxPayers’ Alliance chief Matthew Elliott said he would consider bringing a private prosecution against Mr Morley if no police action was taken.

He said: “The news about Elliot Morley is the most concerning and disgusting yet. This has gone beyond the question of a flawed system and the police must now be called in.

“If they do not investigate, then the TaxPayers’ Alliance will consider bringing a private prosecution against Mr Morley and any other MPs who appear to have broken the law.”

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