MPs' expenses: the smokescreen continues

How heavily the details of MPs' expenses are edited before they are published is a matter for the Commons authorities, Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman told the Coventry Telegraph today.

Last week the Guardian reported that the Commons would be breaking the law if it goes ahead with its plan to release only a greatly censored version of the expenses claims, according to the leading barrister involved in the campaign to get the information published.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, who represented Heather Brooke in her successful attempt to get the details published, said: "If deletions are made ... the Commons [will] not have complied with the court orders."

But Brown said the matter was "for the House of Commons authorities". Harman used almost identical language.

Details of all 646 MPs' expenses claims are due to be released in mid-July, and are currently being edited by the Commons authorities. Separately, the Daily Telegraph obtained a computer disk containing full, unedited details of the claims, and has been publishing them since the beginning of May.

Under the terms of the high court ruling that forced the Commons to begin publication, certain "redactions", or deletions, are allowed – but the Commons authorities plan to go much further than this.

Editing of MPs' expenses is matter for Commons, say Brown and Harman (The Guardian, 3 June 2009)