UK Politics

MPs' expenses watchdog quits post after naming remarks

MPs in the House of Commons
Image caption Ipsa was set up in the wake of the expenses scandal

The man in charge of investigating MPs' expenses breaches has quit - after refusing to name those under suspicion.

Luke March has resigned as compliance officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) with immediate effect.

Last week, he said he felt it would be "unfair" to identify MPs until allegations against them were proved.

Ipsa guidelines state that those under investigation should be named and cases should generally be heard in public.

In May, it emerged that Mr March was carrying out "substantive" investigations into about 40 possible breaches of expenses rules.

'Wrong role'

But he said last week he would not name the individuals in question and suggested there should be no publicity at all about those who were ultimately cleared.

He said the investigations were being carried out "for the first time" and there was a danger of a "lack of proportionality".

Many of the cases involved data entry mistakes by the MP, or Ipsa, he added.

However, in a letter to chairman Sir Ian Kennedy, Mr March wrote: "As I explained during our conversation, after much thought and with a good deal of regret, I have come to the conclusion that the role of compliance officer for Ipsa is not the right role for me.

"On that basis, I have decided that the sensible thing for me to do is to resign the post."

Sir Ian replied: "I accept, with regret, and understand your conclusion that the role is not the right one for you. I know you did not reach this conclusion lightly or hastily."

Martyn Taylor, previously Ipsa's head of governance, will take over as acting compliance officer - the third person to occupy the post in just over a year.

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