Lancashire

Tory MP David Morris denies expenses allegations

David Morris
Image caption David Morris called for the MPs' expenses system to be overhauled

A Conservative MP has denied claiming expenses for driving in the UK whilst he was abroad on official visits.

Official records suggest David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale in Lancashire, claimed mileage 25 times while travelling on foreign trips.

Twelve of those claims relate to either the day he left the UK or arrived back.

Mr Morris said the information the records are based on is inaccurate. The dates on the system are those "the MPs give us," the expenses watchdog said.

The Mail on Sunday alleged Mr Morris claimed £1,400 in expenses over four years while on "fact finding" trips abroad.

Mr Morris said he was in the country on 12 of the 25 occasions referred to by the newspaper and called for an overhaul of the "antiquated" MPs' expenses system.

MPs' declarations of interests show that in April, Mr Morris visited the United Arab Emirates as part of a delegation to strengthen business links, BBC research found.

But on the dates he was there, four expense claims were submitted to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) for using his own car in the UK - one in his constituency and three for travel between London and Lancashire, totalling £390.

In February, while Mr Morris was in the Falkland Islands, there were three claims for UK mileage at £151.

Mr Morris issued a statement on Tuesday saying half the allegations were either before he was flying out of the country or just after he had returned to the UK.

He blamed the expenses watchdog's computer system for other claims, saying a five were a result of it "automatically" selecting "the wrong date".

Mr Morris said three claims "are in dispute" but that these are also down to computer error and "will be investigated with Ipsa."

"I think this exercise highlights the need for a new computer system for MPs' expenses as it appears that the current system is antiquated, resulting in errors that have the potential to do great harm to MPs' reputations", he said.

An Ipsa spokesman said: "We cannot comment on individual cases but the dates we have on our system are the dates the MPs give us."

Mr Morris said solicitors are advising him on "potential legal action against the Mail on Sunday".

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