Jacqui Smith - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents


Thank you for your letter of 3 April 2009, in which you ask me to respond to a number of points arising from a complaint from Mr Robert Waterhouse.

As I know you are aware from media reports, I have made clear publicly on several occasions that as soon as I became aware of the inclusion of film items in the expenses claim in question I recognised that this claim that should never have been submitted. I apologised immediately and took immediate steps to repay all monies relating to the television package at my Redditch home. I attach a letter from [the Director of Operations] in the House of Commons Department of Resources which acknowledges this repayment.

In relation to the specific points you raise, I am pleased to provide the information you require:

  1. the circumstances in which you came to include the film items in the claim which has been publicized in the media;

As part of a claim for the period 1 April 2008-1 May 2008, on 4 May 2008 I submitted a claim for a Virgin Media package which comprised telephone line rental, broadband connection and television services.

The Virgin Media bill I submitted as part of that claim also set out (i) advance charges for the period 20 May-19 June and (ii) event charges for films watched 'on demand'. These event charges should never have been claimed for, and were inadvertently and mistakenly included in the claim I submitted for 1 May 2008-1 June 2008, dated 4 June 2008.

  1. whether there are similar claims which you have made for paid-for films against the allowance;

I submitted claims for the Virgin Media package in March, April, June, July, September, October, November and December 2008.

  1. the actions you have taken to rectify the position.

Clearly, event charges for films watched 'on demand' should not have been included in any claim made by me. As soon as I realised this error I took steps to pay back all monies relating to all television services provided by Virgin Media at my Redditch home.

I deeply regret this mistake, and take full responsibility for it. I apologised for the mistake as soon as I became aware of it, and I took immediate steps to repay all monies relating to the television package at my Redditch home.

I sought and received confirmation from the Department of Resources that the total amount I claimed for the months listed above for a media package including television and broadband was £553.20. Excluding broadband services, that total was £393.20.

On 28 March 2009, I wrote a cheque for £400 for the Department of Resources to cover the costs of claims for the television package in its entirety. [The Director of Operations'] letter of 8 April, attached, confirms receipt of this cheque to reimburse the House for amounts paid towards a Virgin Media package, minus the cost of the basic broadband package available from Virgin, for my constituency home

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to Mr Waterhouse's complaint. Please do not hesitate to contact me again if you require further clarification in relation to this matter.

23 April 2009

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