U.K. Culture and Media Minister Faces Expenses Probe
LONDON -- U.K. culture secretary Maria Miller is to be the subject of an investigation by the British parliamentary commissioner into expenses claims she made.
Miller is to have her expenses investigated by commissioner John Lyon, his office said on Thursday.
Lyon's move to investigate Miller comes after The Telegraph newspaper, the daily which first published details of widespread abuse by MPs of expenses in 2009.
Between 2005 and 2009, before being appointed culture, media and sports minister in September this year, Miller claimed the cost of a mortgage loan and other expenses associated with a South London property, which has been her parents’ home for “nearly two decades”.
The sum is reported as being $145,000 (£90,000)
Miller told the Telegraph her expenses are "absolutely in order" but Parliament's watchdog has decided to look at whether there is a case to answer.
A spokesman for Lyon told the BBC today: "It has been accepted for inquiry. There is an inquiry."
The investigation was launched after John Mann, a Labor minister of parliament, complained that the cabinet minister’s arrangements appear at odds with parliamentary rules.
Mann said the Miller's claims appear to be almost "identical" to those of Tony McNulty, a Labor home office minister who was severely reprimanded for letting his parents live in his taxpayer-funded second home in 2009.
In that case, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards ruled that second homes must be “exclusively” for the use of MPs in fulfilling their parliamentary duties and that housing a politician’s parents was “specifically prohibited” by the rules.
Miller hit back Wednesday at her critics in an interview with The Evening Standard newspaper saying her expenses have been "audited twice independently" in a review of MPs by Sir Thomas Legg and another by the Conservative Party.
But when quizzed about whether or not those auditors knew that her parents lived in the property, she did not give a clear answer.
“I obviously spoke to the Fees Office about my claims and they were happy that everything was in order,” she said.
Miller replaced Jeremy Hunt, who was a key witness in the Leveson inquiry into media ethics and standards.
Hunt found himself in political hot water just prior to September's switch to being appointed health secretary for the government.
Hunt was in the spotlight during Leveson amid criticism that he seemed too friendly with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. when he reviewed the conglomerate's bid for full control of pay TV satellite operator BSkyB.
He later said he had "learned his lesson" from the case.
Hunt, seen as a rising star before joining the government, was more recently lauded for contributing to the successful London 2012 Summer Olympics.