Anger at MP's public meeting on expenses

CALLS for Rutland MP Alan Duncan to apologise over his expense claims continue to be made following a public meeting this morning.

Oakham's Victoria Hall was packed with 200 people keen to hear the MP justify his 4,000 gardening bill which was revealed by the Daily Telegraph last month.

Mr Duncan invited the Reverend Lee Francis Dehqani, from Oakham's All Saints' Church, to chair the hour-long debate which attracted tough questions from some of his constituents.

The Conservative MP, who is also shadow leader of the House of Commons, spoke with confidence and defiance as he explained the expenses system, his own claims and his hopes for future reform.

He said: "I know there has been an extraordinary outburst of anger against politicians and the way we appear to conduct ourselves.

"The workload of an MP is a million times bigger than it ever was and lots of parliament procedures have not kept pace with the times. It is that which explains the disastrous mess we are now in with expenses."

Although Mr Duncan told the public he has never claimed for food, plasma televisions or furniture he claimed 23,027 between 2007 and 2008 for "rudimentary basics" such as council tax, mortgage repayments and basic maintenance on his second home in Thorpe by Water.

One of his most controversial bills was 598 for lawnmower repairs.

Jo Goodliffe, of Cold Overton Road in Oakham, asked the MP whether he rides his lawnmower up and down the A1 to get to work. She said: "You don't need a lawnmower to do your job. You should lead from the front and set a good example."

And Martin Wade, who was also in the crowd, added: "If I sent a receipt like this to my accountant it would be thrown out because I don't need a lawnmower to be an upholsterer."

The meeting closed with calls from some people for Mr Duncan to apologise. He didn't.

Speaking after the meeting he said: ""I have explained everything in full to my constituents and they can reach their own conclusions based on the facts that I have given them."

* What did you think of the meeting? Send your comments to