Hugo Swire pays back £788 in expenses

PUBLISHED: 10:04 10 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:53 16 June 2010

TORY MP for East Devon Hugo Swire has paid back hundreds of pounds in expenses, the Herald can reveal.

TORY MP for East Devon Hugo Swire has paid back hundreds of pounds in expenses, the Herald can reveal.

Mr Swire was ordered to repay £788 he claimed for employing a gardener for his second home.

Late last year Sir Thomas Legg wrote to him, asking him to pay the money back, as it exceeded the guideline and he classed the payments as "outside the bounds of propriety".

Mr Swire said: "Was I miffed? I have to confess, I was a little bit. When I put in my claim I was not aware, nor could have been, that there was a guideline price."

He compared it to a motorist being fined retrospectively for speeding, after the speed limit had been changed.

Mr Swire's expenses totalled £151,616 last year, including £11,382 on travel.

He said he paid the money back and did not appeal. "I paid up because I wanted the whole sorry saga to end," he said. "I wanted to get on with the business of politics, of representing my constituents at Westminster.

"By this point, there was no clear dividing line between the innocent and guilty. Rough and retrospective justice was being handed out and we just had to accept it. The mood of the public was turning downright ugly."

He admitted the expenses saga had been a 'terrible' scandal and that MPs who 'probably broke the law' would be punished.

But he argued other MPs simply fell foul of an inefficient system.

He said: "Hopefully we can come up with a transparent system that is acceptable to not only the public but MPs as well. After all, we don't want to put off the right people from entering parliament because of the pay and conditions and scrutiny it offers.

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