Ex-Minister cleared over website claim

FORMER Minister Alan Johnson has been investigated by the parliamentary expenses watchdog – because his taxpayer-funded website displayed a Labour logo.

But the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s compliance officer has ruled that he and 19 other MPs accused of the same offence do not have to pay back any money because the breach of the rules was minor and the watchdog itself was “in part at fault” for having paid the expenses claims in the first place.

Officials should have spotted the infringements and blocked the payments, said Martyn Taylor, ruling that MPs who had already refunded the money should have their cheques returned.

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Procedures have now been tightened to prevent a repeat of the breaches. Websites are not allowed to be party political.

A spokesman for Hull West and Hessle MP Mr Johnson said: “This was a minor technical error. A junior member of staff accidentally placed a Labour party logo on Alan Johnson’s parliamentary website. When it was brought to our attention it was immediately removed.”

Mr Johnson was among 21 MPs which Ipsa has investigated over expenses. All but one were over websites, while the other involved Suffolk Tory MP Peter Aldous, who repaid £361 in hotel bills that he claimed while taxpayers were paying rent on a flat for him.

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