Expenses staff 'abused by MPs'
Staff working for the new Parliamentary expenses watchdog were repeatedly sworn at and abused by MPs, with one volunteer reduced to tears, it has been disclosed.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) recorded 10 separate incidents of staff complaining that MPs behaved in an offensive or inappropriate manner since it started work last May.
The details - released on Wednesday in response to a Freedom of Information request by London's Evening Standard newspaper - do not include the names of the MPs concerned. It is not clear whether some MPs were involved in more than one incident.
They range from MPs telling staff that they were "monkeys" and "f****** idiots" and that the "system is a f****** abortion" to reports of aggressive and intimidating behaviour.
One woman MP told staff: "I am going to murder someone today" while a male MP was said to have refused to take part in an Ipsa induction session to explain the new expenses system and to have thrown papers with his personal details at the facilitator. When told that he would have to take an induction course, the MP became "angry and patronising", striking a laptop on the facilitator's desk and "loomed over the facilitator in an intimidating manner".
Another male MP was said to been "very difficult and disruptive" during his induction session, directing his anger towards a volunteer who eventually burst into tears and had to be pulled out by another member of staff.
Labour MP Denis MacShane, a former Europe minister, confirmed last night that he was the MP concerned.
He said he was horrified when he realised the young woman volunteer was becoming upset, but said he was frustrated with the difficulties of using Ipsa's "impossibly difficult computer system" which defeated most MPs.
Having already been the subject of one story in a Sunday newspaper, Mr MacShane complained that Ipsa appeared to be keeping secret files on MPs and was leaking information to the press. He said he had been sent a copy of his Ipsa file on Tuesday by a member of the staff.
"It is inaccurate, one-sided and I have never had sight of it before. I am concerned that Ipsa is keeping secret files on MPs and briefs or releases them to the press," he said. "I hope the Deputy Prime Minister who is responsible for Ipsa can make a statement on Ipsa keeping secret files on MPs and their policy of briefing the press about MPs."