THE Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Sir John Lyons, has opened an inquiry into expense claims by the Culture Secretary Maria Miller.
This follows a complaint about her claims submitted by Labour MP John Mann on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the Commissioner confirmed yesterday: ‘It has been accepted for inquiry. There is an inquiry.’
Mann’s complaint follows reports she had allowed her parents to live in a property on which she claimed £90,718 in second home allowances during the last parliament.
The Labour MP argued that the arrangement was ‘identical’ to that of ex-Labour minister Tony McNulty, who had to pay back more than £13,000 in expenses in 2009 because they were spent on a second home occupied by his parents.
In 2009, Lyons ruled that second homes must be ‘exclusively’ for the use of MPs in fulfilling their parliamentary duties and that housing a politician’s parents was ‘specifically prohibited’ by the rules.
Miller has said her expenses were ‘absolutely in order’ and ‘have been audited in full and have been found to be entirely consistent with the rules.’
The Miller expenses story was broken by the Daily Telegraph.
Her special adviser Joanna Hindley called the Telegraph’s reporter working on the story to ‘flag up’ the culture secretary’s role in drawing up new press regulation rules, following Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into media ethics.
According to the Telegraph, Hindley told its reporter: ‘Maria has obviously been having quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I am just going to kind of flag up that connection for you to think about.’
The paper took this to be a threat and an indication of what would happen under state control of the media.
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: ‘Mrs Miller’s special adviser raised concerns with a journalist about the nature of an approach to Mrs Miller’s elderly father.
‘Her adviser noted that Mrs Miller was in regular contact with the paper’s editor and would raise her concerns directly with him, which Mrs Miller did subsequently.’
Downing Street said yesterday that Cameron still has full confidence in the Culture Secretary, who is overseeing negotiations over press regulation.