Offensive politicians: MPs abuse and swear at staff of expenses

STAFF working for the new Parliamentary expenses watchdog have been repeatedly sworn at and abused by MPs, with one volunteer reduced to tears, it was disclosed yesterday.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) has recorded 10 separate incidents of staff complaining that MPs behaved in an offensive or inappropriate manner since it started work last May.

The details – released yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information request by London's Evening Standard newspaper – do not include the names of the MPs concerned but one Yorkshire MP last night admitted he had been involved in incidents. It is not clear whether some MPs were involved in more than one incident.

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They range from MPs telling staff that they were "monkeys" and "f****** idiots" and that the "system is a f****** abortion" to reports of aggressive and intimidating behaviour.

One woman MP told staff "I am going to murder someone today" while a male MP was said to have refused to take part in an Ipsa induction session to explain the new expenses system and to have thrown papers with his personal details at the facilitator.

When told that he would have to take an induction course, the MP became "angry and patronising", striking a laptop on the facilitator's desk and "loomed over the facilitator in an intimidating manner".

Another male MP was said to been "very difficult and disruptive" during his induction session, directing his anger towards a volunteer who eventually burst into tears and had to be pulled out by another member of staff.

At that point the MP became "contrite and apologised", although he continued to be difficult throughout the session. He later returned with a box of chocolates and a note addressed to the volunteer.

Rotherham's Labour MP Denis MacShane, a former Europe Minister, confirmed last night that he was the MP concerned.

He said he had been horrified when he realised the young woman volunteer was becoming upset, but said he had been frustrated with the difficulties of using Ipsa's "impossibly difficult computer system" which had defeated most MPs.

Having already been the subject of one story in a Sunday newspaper, Mr MacShane complained that Ipsa appeared to be keeping secret files on MPs and was leaking information to the Press.

He said that he had been sent a copy of his Ipsa file by a member of the staff.

"It is inaccurate, one-sided and I have never had sight of it before.

"I am concerned that Ipsa is keeping secret files on MPs and briefs or releases them to the press," he said.

"I hope the Deputy Prime Minister who is responsible for Ipsa can make a statement on Ipsa keeping secret files on MPs and their policy of briefing the press about MPs."

One of the most serious cases involved a woman MP who stormed into Ipsa's offices to demand her MP's travel card. When she was told it was not available she accused a staff member of telling an "outright lie".

When she was told the person she wanted to speak to was not available she replied "how convenient" in what was described as "a sarcastic and menacing manner".

"Throughout this whole incident (the MP) had an aggressive tone/manner, and she was very intimidating and belittling towards myself, with body language reflecting this," the staff member said.

"I was very close to tears by the time she left and I think if it had continued much longer I would have been visibly upset."

Two days later a similar incident occurred, again involving a woman MP demanding her travel card.

It is not clear whether it was same MP involved in the earlier incident.

This time the MP became "extremely hostile", repeatedly picked up the office telephone when it rang and then hung up so that they could not take any calls, and to have warned Ipsa staff that they "wouldn't be around for long".