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MPs' expenses: 10 controversial claimants

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 12 October 2009

Hundreds of MPs are thought to have received letters about their expense claims today as part of Thomas Legg's inquiry. Here are 10 politicians whose claims have already hit the headlines.

Duck house

The MPs' expenses scandal made duck houses, moat-cleaning and "flipping" notorious earlier this year.

Gordon Brown asked Thomas Legg to review second homes' allowance claims made since 2004. Legg will report in December, but today wrote private letters to hundreds of MPs asking some of them to explain their claims or repay money.

Some MPs have already paid back expenses claims; many have also announced they will stand down at the next election. 

We look back at some of those whose expenses have already come under the spotlight.

Jacqui Smith
The then-home secretary attracted expenses notoriety when it came to light that taxpayers had been billed for two pornographic films watched by her husband.

Smith apologised and repaid the money, which she said had been claimed mistakenly. She was already under scrutiny over expense claims for her second home in her Redditch constituency, where her husband and children lived. Smith said she spent more time in a London house she shared with her sister, and had therefore kept it as her main residence after discussion with the fees office.

Today the parliamentary watchdog ordered her to apologise, finding she had breached the rules on expense claims.

Read more: Jacqui Smith's claims (House of Commons)

Hazel Blears
The former communities secretary famously brandished a cheque for £13,000 in unpaid capital gains tax on television. She didn't pay capital gains tax when she sold a south London flat in August 2004, which she had designated as her second home for expenses purposes four months earlier, on the basis that it was her main residence.

Blears claimed for three different properties in a single year, 2004, spending almost £5,000 of taxpayers' money on furniture in three months.

Read more: Hazel Blears's claims (House of Commons)

Phil Hope
The care services minister announced in May that he would pay back £41,709, saying: "The anger of my constituents and the damage done to perceptions of my integrity concerning the money I have received to make my London accommodation habitable has been a massive blow to me that I cannot allow to continue."

Hope spent more than £37,000 in four years refurbishing and furnishing a modest two-bedroom flat in south London.

Items charged to expenses included a new kitchen, seven doors, wooden flooring, bedroom furniture, chairs and tables, two bookcases and a television, it was reported.

Read more: Phil Hope's claims (House of Commons)

Ian Gibson
The independent-minded former MP for Norwich North stepped down, triggering a by-election, after Labour's "star chamber" ruled he could not stand again as a Labour candidate.

Gibson claimed £80,000 in taxpayers' money for a flat where he stayed three nights a week and where his daughter lived with her partner.

He then sold the west London property to his daughter and her partner for below the market rate.

Read more: Ian Gibson's claims (House of Commons)

Margaret Moran
The Luton South MP claimed £22,500 for the cost of treating dry rot on a Southampton property 100 miles from her constituency. She later agreed to repay this money.

She "flipped" her designated second home between a total of three different properties, also claiming for renovations on a Westminster flat and a Luton home. Moran will not be standing at the next election; broadcaster Esther Rantzen has announced that she will run for her seat as an independent candidate.

Read more: Margaret Moran's claims (House of Commons)

Michael Gove
The shadow schools secretary has repaid more than any other Conservative frontbencher to date - nearly £7,700.

Mr Gove spent more than £7,000 in five months furnishing a London property in 2006 before moving his second home designation to a new property he bought in Surrey. He denied the charge of "flipping" his home for financial gain. Gove also repaid the £500 cost of a night's hotel stay for himself and his wife and children when attending constituency business, saying it was a "misjudgement" and the costs were too high.

Read more: Michael Gove's claims (House of Commons)

Anthony Steen
The veteran Conservative MP claimed tens of thousands of pounds for the maintenance of his country estate, including work on 500 trees, guarding his shrubs against rabbits, maintaining a separate cottage and overhauling his private sewage system.

He is repaying around £6,000 following the investigations of the Conservative party scrutiny panel, and has announced he will stand down at the next election.

Read more: Anthony Steen's claims (House of Commons)

Douglas Hogg
The £2,200 bill for cleaning the former agriculture minister's moat was reported to be a turning point, prompting David Cameron to take quick action on the MPs' expenses.

Hogg initially claimed that taxpayers had not stumped up for the moat-cleaning bill, but later repaid the money after accepting it had not been "positively excluded" from his claims.

Read more: Douglas Hogg's claims (House of Commons)

Peter Viggers
The Conservative MP tried to claim £1,645 for a "floating duck island", one of the more memorable single items in the expenses scandal.

He was paid more than £30,000 of taxpayers’ money for "gardening" over three years, including nearly £500 for 28 tons of manure.

He was later ordered to repay £10,000 claimed for gardening, repairs and maintenance by the Conservative scrutiny panel.

Read more: Peter Viggers's claims (House of Commons)

Sir Menzies Campbell
The Lib Dems came out of the expenses scandal less tarred than the other two major parties.

Former leader Sir Menzies spent nearly £10,000 of taxpayer funds refurbishing his central London flat.

He is paying back the £1,490.66 cost of an interior designer, writing to the fees office that although the claim had been consistent with the rules at the time, "present public perceptions and indeed the mood of the House of Commons itself would not regard payment of a fee to a designer in the circumstances outlined as appropriate, and I understand and share that view".

Read more: Menzies Campbell's claims (House of Commons)

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