UK Politics

David Laws 'broke six MPs' expenses rules'

David Laws
Image caption Mr Laws helped negotiate the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government deal

Lib Dem MP David Laws has been found guilty of breaching parliamentary rules over more than just his claims for rent, the BBC has been told.

The standards and privileges committee - due to report on Thursday - will say Mr Laws broke "around six" rules.

But it will stress he did not intend to benefit himself or his partner.

He quit as Chief Secretary to the Treasury last year when it emerged he had claimed about £40,000 to pay rent to his partner - which is banned.

The committee has been considering the findings of a long investigation.

Mr Laws has previously indicated he would be keen on a return to government.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also signalled he would like to see him back quickly.

Phone bills

But the language used by the committee in reprimanding Mr Laws, when it publishes its report, and the level of sanction imposed could decide his future.

Mr Laws resigned after just 17 days as a cabinet minister, following reports he had claimed about £40,000 to pay rent to his partner, the lobbyist James Lundie. Such payments have been against parliamentary rules since 2006.

Mr Laws apologised, saying the claims had been part of an effort to conceal his homosexuality rather than make financial gain, and promised to pay back the money.

The BBC's deputy political editor James Landale said he understood a long investigation by the parliamentary standards commissioner had discovered other breaches relating to phone bills and building work.

But the Parliamentary commissioner for standards has made clear in his report that there is no evidence the MP made his expenses claims with the intention of benefiting himself or his partner, the BBC understands.

'Serious matter'

The commissioner will conclude Mr Laws acted to protect his privacy, it is further understood.

The Liberal Democrats are refusing to comment until the report is officially published.

In a statement the party said: "Mr Laws has always maintained that his decisions were driven by his desire for privacy, rather than to benefit in any way from the expenses system.

"Mr Laws has also always maintained that his actions led to a lower cost for the taxpayer than would otherwise be the case."

The standards and privileges committee, which decides on sanctions for MPs found guilty of breaches, discussed the commissioner's findings earlier on Tuesday behind closed doors.

A source said: "This is considered a serious matter."

After his resignation, Mr Laws won praise from his Conservative colleagues for his role in coalition negotiations and his approach to tackling the budget deficit in the short time he worked alongside Chancellor George Osborne.

He was replaced as chief secretary by Danny Alexander, one of five Lib Dem MPs in the cabinet.

More on this story