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Julie Kirkbride says she can justify all her expense claims and wants to stand again at the next election

Picture 12 9.15pm update:

A new allegation has emerged against Miss Kirkbride tonight - published on the Daily Mail website - that she took out a £50,000 mortgage on her constituency home last year to part-fund an extension in which her brother could live. This is costing the taxpayer an extra £1,632 a year, but she has said that this "fully complied with the rules" on MPs' allowances and had been signed off by officials in the House of Commons fees office.


Following on from this morning's news that 81% of members felt that she should not be the Conservative candidate for Bromsgrove at the next election, Julie Kirkbride has given her first television interview since she became embroiled in the MPs' expenses scandal.

According to the Telegraph, the interview was conducted in Plymouth, where she has been on holiday with her son.

The following is not verbatim, but a summary of her words:

I understand why people are angry, I am here to answer questions... My husband paid a big price for an error of judgment., having done as he was told by Fees Office. I am aware that he had that advice and as a new MP I was taking advice from him, I didn't question it. We both regret that now.

David Cameron said my own arrangement was separate from my husband's.

My sister has been a secretary for me for around 12 years - it's in the open and properly registered. She does fantastic work and has remote computer access [from Dorset]. She does a first class job and covers for me when I'm away and for my Westminster PA who has family friendly working arrangements. There is nothing against the rules in her working for me... I see no reason why the arrangement is inappropriate.

The questions about my brother are another area of concern that people want answers to. He is a 59 year old bachelor living off an investment income. It is not true that he runs an IT company from my apartment. He does live there rent free some of the time, and some of the time with our elderly mother in Cirencester.

I'm a working mother with a  busy careeer and it is difficult to find appropriate childcare... I often drop my son off with my brother at a motorway junction on a Friday afternoon, and go to engagements in the evening in the constituency knowing that my son is with someone who loves him and cares for him.

I do understand why people don't understand my arrangements, but it's the only way I can manage doing lots of work in the constituency without feeling anguish about how my child is being cared for. My brother acts as carer to my little boy and as volunteer he helps with office tasks, such as designing my website - he helps at no cost to the taxpayer. He occasionally sourced equipment I needed for my parliamentary activities at the cheapest price. He paid on his credit card on my instructions.

I understand that people are angry, upset and confused about the use of allowances. I put everything through the Fees Office with appropriate documentation. I bitterly regret way the system works and desperately want the reforms to come in.

[Asked whether she will pay any money back]

I am waiting on the judgment of the Conservative scrutiny panel; I will abide by those judgments.

[Asked if she will stand again at the general election]

It's not a judgment for me. I hope I can persuade constituents by the answers I have given today... I hope they understand a little better, it's helped me to be a better MP. I think I've still lots to offer. I would dearly love to be re-elected to the job I adore and which has been satisfying over last 12 years.

My local party have given me good support. I was pleased to see David Cameron describe me as an effective MP and said I had to offer answers - that's why I'm here now.

I understand why people are angry about the way the system works... it's difficult to justify. What my husband did was an error of judgment. If I may say so, there are an awful lot of queries about other MPs' expenses.

I can defend the claims I signed for... they are complicated arrangements, that worked for me.

I will be out on the doorsteps tomorrow and Friday in Bromsgrove, I was doing the same last weekend, when I was heartened to hear lots of support.

[Will she attend the public meeting organised in her constituency on Sunday by those wanting her to go?]

I won't be going to that meeting - I'll be spending time with my little boy; I have to think of him and his interests first and foremost.

It's important to take soundings from the local party and constituents. I understand that I have to explain the arrangements - but they were entirely within the rules and not a disservice to the taxpayer. It is necessary to have my brother living with us some of the time, and I need back-up in my office and my sister is available to help in that way.

I need to reflect on everything that's happened. I'm here today to explain to people why stories emerged and hope I've been able to do that.

If on reflection people say I need to change arrangements, I will do; if the scrutiny panel makes recommendations, we will follow those.

If David Cameron asks me to stand down, of course I would do as he requested.


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