MP tried to claim Christmas cards on expenses

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Preston MP Mark Hendrick tried to claim £167.20 for Christmas cards from taxpayers' cash, it has been revealed.

Mr Hendrick signed off on a claim submitted by staff for festive cards printed by Staples three years ago.

But the claim was rejected by Fees Office officials, who told him Christmas cards were not eligible under incidental claims allowance rules.

Mr Hendrick also submitted claims for 3,868.87 for replacement doors, window frames, glazing and paint under the second home allowance – a month before he changed his second home designation from London to Preston.

He said: "I purchased the frames for the London home using Preston companies. Because I did change homes because of my circumstances, I actually paid for installation from my own pocket, which cost several thousand pounds."

Mr Hendrick blamed the cards claim on an employee error.

He said: "A member of staff was not aware you could not claim for Christmas cards. The bill came into the office and the person concerned did not realise you could not claim."

Mr Hendrick gave the Evening Post one hour which allowed us to examine his Additional Costs Allowance for second homes and some of his incidental claims from the past four years.

The files revealed a 1,500 claim for a bed was queried by officials, because the maximum limit for a bed is 1,000, but it was later approved because it included a base and bedding.

Other claims for his one-bedroom property in Swiss Cottage included 1,180 for a dining table, 799.90 for a washing machine and tumble drier, 599.99 for a TV, 179.98 for a DVD player and aerial and 199.99 for a clock/radio.

Smaller submissions included 45 to have a wasp nest removed, 9.49 for a brass light switch and 15.90 for cushions.

Since he switched his second home designation from London to Preston in April 2007, Mr Hendrick has claimed 1,137 for "fence, gate and lawn materials", a further 280 for garden maintenance and 211.50 for drawers, mirror and a vase for the Preston property.

He said: "I try to be responsible. I get quality (products) but not exorbitant ones."

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