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Champagne socialist Clare Short - Excessive mortgage claims.

Clare Short, the former international development secretary, admitted claiming thousand of pounds of taxpayers’ money to which she was not entitled within months of standing down as a Cabinet minister.
Records seen by The Daily Telegraph show that the independent Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood claimed the full cost of her mortgage for two and a half years, despite being entitled to charge only for the interest element.

When she was asked by the House of Commons fees office to repay more than £8,000 to compensate for the overpayments, Miss Short sent a letter back saying officials “should accept some responsibility for the situation” for not spotting the error earlier.

The records show that over the past four years Miss Short has submitted regular claims for decorating at her second home, including hundreds of pounds worth of work to a summer house and conservatory, as well as her porch, patio and kitchen. She also charged more than £1,500 for repainting. An MP since 1983, Miss Short has always designated her house in London as her main home. She said that six months after her resignation from the Cabinet, she remortgaged her second home in Birmingham and began submitting full payments of £879.19 a month on her expenses. She added that this was a “mistake”, explaining that until 2003 she had an interest-only mortgage.

The over-claims were not picked up by the fees office until May, 2006, when she was asked to provide a mortgage statement.

A month later she wrote, agreeing to repay £8,436.36, adding: “I of course accept that I should make a repayment but I think your office should accept some responsibility for this situation. I was not clear about the rules on capital and interest and always sent in documentation and am surprised your office did not pick up the problem.”

She told The Daily Telegraph: “When I found out that I had been making a mistake, I was embarrassed and irritated that it took the fees office so long to pick this up.

“I paid what was due and corrected future claims. I think this is an example of the fees office working as it should, if a little belatedly.”

Records relating to 2006 also appear to suggest that Miss Short twice submitted an identical bill for £599.14 for decorating and renovation and was paid twice.
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