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Sir Peter Viggers to step down over new expenses allegations, as Bill Wiggin faces questions about a "phantom mortgage"

VIGGERS After decisions to step down from Tory MPs Douglas Hogg and Anthony Steen over the last 48 hours, the Daily Telegraph is revealing this evening that Sir Peter Viggers (pictured), the veteran MP for Gosport, is also to retire at the next election after the extent of his expenses claims became apparent.

Among Sir Peter's claims was one for a £1,645 floating “duck island” in the garden pond at his Hampshire home, and he is said to be standing down at the "direct request" of David Cameron. He held Gosport with a 5,730 at the 2005 general election.

Meanwhile, on day fourteen of Expenses-gate, the Telegraph reports about Conservative whip Mr Wiggin:

"Bill Wiggin, a Conservative whip, can today be uncovered as the most senior MP to have claimed interest payments for a property which had no mortgage. Mr Wiggin, a contemporary of David Cameron at Eton, received more than £11,000 in parliamentary expenses to cover interest payments after declaring that his Herefordshire property was his “second home”... Mr Wiggin, who has been a whip since January, joins two Labour MPs, Elliot Morley and David Chaytor, who could face a police investigation into “phantom mortgage” expenses. Lawyers believe such claims may be a criminal offence under the 2007 Fraud Act and the 1968 Theft Act

"Mr Wiggin said that the claims had been in error and he had meant them to relate to his London property, which he had previously designated as his second home. The sums matched those paid for the London house. However, he completed and signed 23 statements for parliamentary officials declaring that his second home was in Herefordshire. In 2007, he switched his claim back to the London property. Mr Wiggin insisted he has not profited. “It was purely an administrative error, and it was of absolutely no financial advantage to me,” he said.

10.30pm update:

CCHQ Has just released the following statement from Bill Wiggin:

“I always submitted detailed mortgage statements for the amounts I claimed. For a period I filled in the accompanying forms incorrectly, but this mistake made no difference at all to the claim. It was purely an administrative error, and it was of absolutely no financial advantage to me. I claimed the correct amount to the last penny. Anybody checking these documents could - and can - see that it was an error. As it was, nobody spotted the error until 2006 when I immediately started filling in the forms correctly.

1. I have not had a mortgage on XXXXXXXX XXXX, Ledbury only ever on X Whittingstall Road and I have not flipped my homes back and forth for any reason however it is possible that I put the wrong address on my forms. My mortgage was always on X Whittingstall Road, my second home and I have mortgage statements to prove this and I submitted them to the fees office with the claims..

2. I used my ACA to pay the interest on my mortgage at NoX just as I was meant to and have not moved house or moved mortgage.

3. I think this is when the fees office realised I had filled out the second home nomination part wrong on the forms and put it right.

4. The repairs to my home were done to X Whittingstall Road which has always been my second home.

5. I claimed what I was allowed to claim within the limits and I was not asked to produce receipts, all these reflect genuine use of utilities at my second home."

Jonathan Isaby


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