Maria Miller's advisers warned The Telegraph to consider the minister’s role in implementing the Leveson Report before this newspaper published details of her expenses.Mrs Miller, it seems, claimed as her second home the Wimbledon house which she and her city lawyer husband shared with her parents. Not surprisingly, given the location and the size of residence this implies, the allowances she claimed for the house between 2005 and 2009 amount to some £90,000.
Despite her assertion that her parents live with the family as 'dependants', this case appears to be identical to that of Labour's Tony McNulty, who was required to pay back £13,000 after the Parliamentary Commissioner described the situation as 'unacceptable'.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has previously 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.It's interesting to note that, having previously claimed £90,718 out of a maximum allowable £90,833 in second home allowances, Mrs Miller stopped claiming for the property altogether when the expenses scandal came to light and has since designated it her main residence.
When a reporter from the Telegraph - which is understandably anxious to retain its crown as Britain's foremost expense-fraud-busting paper - contacted the Culture Secretary's office, Mrs Miller's aide was ready with a thinly-disguised warning worthy of Cosa Nostra:
“Maria has obviously been having quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I am just going to kind of flag up that connection for you to think about.”It is probably fair to say that Telegraph staff won't be the only ones thinking long and hard about the implication of her words.