U.K. Culture Secretary Maria Miller Says Sorry After Expenses Investigation

11:45 PM PST 04/08/2014 by Stuart Kemp
Rosie Hallam/Getty Images

The minister responsible for overseeing the burgeoning U.K. media sector was told to say sorry for having an attitude problem as she was cleared of deliberately submitting overcooked expenses claims.

LONDON – Maria Miller, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, hit the headlines and airwaves here Thursday after apologizing to fellow U.K. ministers for having an attitude problem.

Miller was cleared by the House of Commons committee on standards of deliberately submitting expenses claims to which she was not entitled but was ordered to say sorry over her attitude to the inquiry which had breached the ministers' code of conduct.

Miller was also ordered to repay $9,600 (£5,800) to cover over-claiming of house loan mortgage expenses after she failed to cut her claims as interest rates fell.

In a short statement, Miller told MPs she apologized "unreservedly".

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The committee made up of fellow ministers suggested that she had tried to argue her case before the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in a "legalistic" way and was asked to say sorry in Parliament.

The committee told the media it would have been able to clear the matter up more speedily if documentation and information had been handed over complete and not delayed.

The investigation had been mired in "delay and difficulty", arising from "incomplete documentation and fragmentary information" according to the Committee which noted Miller had to carry "significant responsibility for that."

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The investigation was prompted by a formal complaint in December 2012 from a Labour MP John Mann.

This followed reports she had allowed her parents to live in a property on which she claimed second home allowances between 2005 and 2009.

The committee rejected the charge that she or her parents had benefited financially from the arrangements.

Miller speaking in Parliament Thursday said: "The report resulted from an allegation made by the member for Bassetlaw [Mr Mann]. The committee has dismissed his allegation. The committee has recommended that I apologize to the House for my attitude to the commissioner's inquiries, and I of course unreservedly apologize.

I fully accept the recommendations of the committee and thank them for bringing this matter to an end."

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Maria Miller is doing an excellent job as culture secretary and will continue to do that" noting that after her apology, "people should leave it at that."

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