CAROLINE Spelman, MP for Meriden, will have to repay £9,600 after an inquiry concluded that the she had misused expenses - albeit inadvertently.
On Tuesday evening, a report by the Parliamentary watchdog said that Mrs Spelman had overpaid her assistant, Tina Haynes, allowing her to work as a nanny during the 1990s. However, any breach of the rules was found to be unintentional.
Following the decision, the MP issued a statement which said that she fully accepted the outcome of the inquiry and apologised.
“I fully accept the findings of this inquiry which I sought because I wanted the opportunity to clear my name. I am glad the committee finds that the work done by Tina Haynes met a genuine need for an assistant in the constituency, that she was qualified to do the job and that the work was done.
“However, as the Committee notes, the arrangements had the unintended effect of misapplying some of my Parliamentary allowances for non-Parliamentary purposes, for which I am sorry.
“This is a finding which I take very seriously and I will of course immediately pay the money in question back.
“The Committee makes clear that this breach of the rules on my part was unintended. It took place more than a decade ago when I was a new MP. But I apologise sincerely for it: I fully accept people have a right to expect the highest standards from people in public life.”
A spokesman for the Conservative Party said that Mrs Spelman was not commenting further at this time.
Allegations that Mrs Spelman had used her parliamentary allowance to pay for childcare erupted last summer. But this week the inquiry concluded that Ms Haynes had legitimately carried out administrative work for Mrs Spelman in a part-time capacity, and rejected claims that she was never anything other than a live-in nanny.
Shortly after the allegations were made, Mrs Spelman had met with the John Lyon, parliamentary standards commissioner, and took the unprecedented step of requesting an inquiry herself.
Mr Lyon has been investigating the claims for the past nine months and the final verdict was this week announced by the Committee on Standards and Privileges.