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Gay Chief Whip claimed £18,880 for food without submitting receipts

Jessica Geen May 19, 2009
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Nick Brown, the openly gay Chief Whip and Labour MP for Newcastle East and Wallsend, claimed £18,880 for food expenses between 2004 and 2008 without submitting any expenses.

Brown, who is in charge of disciplining Labour MPs who break the rules on expenses and claims, also claimed £200 a month for “repairs”, £200 a month for “service and maintenance” and £250 a month for a cleaner without submitting any receipts, the Daily Telegraph revealed today.

Between 2004 and 2008, MPs were not required to submit receipts for any claims under £250.

The latest revelations are particularly embarrassing for the government because Brown has been given the task of deciding whether Labour MPs should be suspended over their claims.

In the last week, he has suspended MPs Elliot Morley and David Chaytor over allegations that they claimed for mortgages which had been paid off.

In 2007-8, his mortgage interest repayments totalled £6,600, but Brown claimed a total of £23,068, just £15 below the maximum allowable amount for the year.

Brown did not submit any receipts for his claims of £4,800 for food, £2,880 for “repairs and insurance”, £2,880 for services, £897.65 for cleaning, £1,640 for phones and £1,810 for utilities.

Defending his claims for food, Brown said: “My regular pattern for work is to travel to the constituency Thursday nights, and spend Friday on constituency business or in my role as minister for the region. I meet constituents and attend constituency events on Saturday. I travel back to London on Sunday and am at work Monday morning right the way through until the House rises. Given the context, I do not think this is unreasonable, it reflects the real costs incurred.”

He added: “Throughout my time as an MP I have made no claim for household furniture, fixtures and fittings. I have substantially upgraded my flat in London and not charged as much as a penny to the public purse.”

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