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MPs’ golden goodbyes frozen by expenses legal cases

‘Golden goodbye’ payments for three MPs facing criminal charges over expenses will be suspended until legal proceedings are over, Commons Speaker John Bercow said last night.

Elliot Morley, Jim Devine and David Chaytor would have been entitled to resettlement grants on stepping down from the Commons at the general election, it emerged at the weekend.

All three Labour MPs, who earlier yesterday had the party whip suspended, deny claims of false accounting, and have pledged to defend themselves “robustly”.

But Mr Bercow last night wrote to the Clerk of the House Michael Jack telling him to “suspend any payments which would otherwise be due and attributable to the Resettlement Grant in any case where criminal proceedings are brought in relation to any claim for expenses until the criminal proceedings have been finally disposed of”.

MPs are entitled to payoffs of up to £65,000 when they leave Parliament at an election, depending on age and service.

Under new rules expected to be passed over the next few days, members who refuse to hand over money demanded by Sir Thomas Legg's audit of expenses from 2004-08 will face having the money docked from pay, allowances or grants due.

Mr Morley, Mr Devine and Mr Chaytor were not examined as part of the process because a police probe was under way.

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