Maria Miller has been well and truly skewered by the Standard this afternoon during an interview in which she tried to play down allegations about her expenses. Did Sir Thomas Legg, the man who carried out the first independent audit into her second home claims, know that her parents lived in the property? “I obviously spoke to the Fees Office about my claims and they were happy that everything was in order”. Hardly a yes.
Who was the second independent auditor? Joe Murphy reports that “The Culture Secretary replied that it was the Conservative Party which “audited all Conservative MPs’ expenses”. Her definition of independent may raise some eyebrows as the Tory panel was headed by the then Chief Whip and David Cameron’s chief of staff”. Most suspect of all was Miller’s answer to the charge that her decision to stop claiming just as the expenses scandal broke was more than coincidence:
“”I think there was a lot of concern about the rules and, er, a lot of concern about, you know, the whole issue, and it’s something I felt that I didn’t want to be, sort of, mixed up in, the fact that I …” Mrs Miller finally stopped trying to explain herself, and simply said: “I just made that decision.””
She will have to do better than that when John Lyon comes calling…