Watchdog tells city MP to repay £7,000

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Preston MP Mark Hendrick says he has been forced to pay back almost £7,000 after an auditor's inquiry on expenses.

The Labour politician confirmed the amount he has repaid covering the last five years is a total of 17,268.39, which includes thousands voluntarily paid back over the last 18 months.

Mr Hendrick said he will not appeal the findings made by Sir Thomas Legg dating back five years, but did initially challenge the 6,885.70 he was asked to repay.

The MP said it included demands to repay 899 for a dining table, chairs and wardrobe bought for his London flat and 3,868.87 for window and door fittings claimed shortly before he moved to another second home.

He says he was also asked to repay 2,117.83 in mortgage interest payments, but says it had already been included in 4,700 he paid back for amounts covering the last 12 months.

He said: "I do think it was right and proper that the review took place given what's happened and he's (Sir Thomas) gone back five years and looked through every penny.

"He's given a final quote – I have paid the amounts I was asked for and not appealed."

But Mr Hendrick revealed he did query the amounts on all items, excluding the mortgage interest payments, as they were "within the rules" at the time. He said they have since been queried based on a retrospective view of imposing new rules. He said: "I challenged it on those items with the exception of the mortgage. I have had everything back and had a clean bill of health."

The 6,885.70 he says was demanded by the Legg Review comes after Mr Hendrick says he voluntarily repaid 6,850.52 in 2007/08 and 950 in 2008/09 for mortgage interest overpayments after working with the House of Commons' fees office. He confirmed that it comes to a total of 17,268.39 of repayments.

The Preston MP pointed out he underclaimed on mortgage interest payments from 2004 to 2007 by 900.

The disclosure comes after 80 MPs confirmed they will formally challenge repayment demands, including Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin who has been asked to repay the highest amount known – 63,250 – after he claimed for rent on a property owned by his sister-in-law.

In October Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans revealed he had been asked to pay back 858.33p in ground rent payments identified for by Sir Thomas, who has ordered scores of MPs from all parties pay back expenses. He chose not to challenge this.