1. ITV Report

Plymouth Tory MP Johnny Mercer told to pay back £930

Johnny Mercer MP Photo: PA

Johnny Mercer has been ordered to pay back hundreds of pounds he wrongly claimed on expenses.

The Tory MP, who represents Plymouth Moor View, was told to pay back more than £900 following an investigation by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

The investigation into Mr Mercer was launched after two complaints were received from unnamed members of the public in November 2017.

Johnny Mercer pictured with Theresa May in Plymouth. Credit: PA

The complainants accused the MP of using taxpayers’ money for “electioneering”, after his constituency office phone bills went up from an average of £100 a month to £660 in March 2016.

But Mr Mercer denied the lines were used for canvassing and said the increased cost was in fact due to his phone system being “hacked” and used to make calls to Albania.

Following the probe, the IPSA found “absolutely no evidence” to find the breaches were “anything other than genuine oversights”.

Mr Mercer was subsequently told to repay £931.20 to the watchdog, which he has now paid.

I have had sight of the Compliance Officer's closure report regarding investigations into my office expenditure, which has been ongoing since my initial election as MP for Plymouth Moor View in 2015.

Despite being one of the lowest spenders of public money in Westminster, I have been under persistent investigation by the same group of people in Plymouth since I was elected – it won’t take the brains of an archbishop to work out who – over a number of different subjects, over a number of years.

From the outset I have cooperated with the multiple investigations and have been transparent on all issues, as I always am. I maintained from the word go that all expenses were legitimate and within the parameters of the IPSA scheme relevant at that time. This time the findings again have validated that; the only complaints upheld relate to two administrative errors by a proxy and telephone hacking entirely outside my control.

Again the vast majority of complaints have been dismissed. The tedium of this process for all involved – including the excellent investigative team at IPSA – does not seem to cease the appetite for my political opponents for wasting everybody’s time, behind a cloak of anonymity I find entirely inappropriate. It comes with the territory of public office, and I am getting used to it. I suspect I will be making a similar statement this time next year.

– Johnny Mercer MP, Plymouth Moor View