Michael Cashman has defended himself against accusations that he and his partner are taking advantage of MEP staff allowances.

The Daily Mail printed an article today attacking the Labour MEP for employing Paul Cottingham, who they described as his “gay lover,” but admitted he had not broken any rules.

“Mr Cottingham, who has been with Mr Cashman for more than 20 years, also runs Cause Celebre, a high-profile PR firm that has hosted a string of glitzy events for the Labour Party,” the paper reported today.

“The revelations will lead to more questions over exactly how MEPs on the Brussels gravy train use taxpayer-funded expenses.”

Today Mr Cashman rubbished the Daily Mail story, which came after a welter of recent revelations from Tory MEPs’ payments to family members.

“The allegations in today’s press are inaccurate and highly misleading,” he said.

“For the record I employ six people in my offices in the West Midlands, Brussels and Strasbourg.

“All these members of staff are on contracts which are lodged with the Parliament Services.

“Paul Cottingham my, civil partner, has never been paid ‘£8000 a month from expenses.’

“The figure that Mr Cottingham is paid which is inclusive of expenses and travel (to Brussels and the UK), is £30,000 per annum and this information is freely available from the Register of Interests.

“His responsibilities include Personnel Management and Payroll Manager and liaison with Parliament services.

“I have called upon the Parliament to investigate these allegations which are designed to deflect attention away from those who have abused the Allowance Systems of the European Parliament.”

Mr Cashman is close to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who attended the celebration of his civil partnership.

His ground-breaking portrayal of Colin Russell in BBC soap EastEnders between 1986 and 1989 saw the first gay kiss in a UK soap.

Mr Cashman became a Labour MEP in 1999 and is president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights.