Miller 'devastated' at inquiry row

This Is Lancashire: Tories have voiced fears over the Prime Minister's backing for Culture Secretary Maria Miller Tories have voiced fears over the Prime Minister's backing for Culture Secretary Maria Miller

Maria Miller has admitted she "let people down" as she struggles to cling on to her Cabinet job amid a growing Tory backlash.

The Culture Secretary broke her silence after nearly a week of dire headlines to insist she is "devastated" about the criticism she received from the Standards Committee.

In an article for local paper the Basingstoke Gazette, Mrs Miller said the last 16 months had been "difficult".

"I have unreservedly apologised for the way I handled and approached the inquiry," the MP wrote.

" I am devastated that this has happened, and that I have let you down."

With more Conservatives breaking ranks to express concern about David Cameron's determination to cling on to his minister, allies launched a furious counter-attack accusing the press of a "witch-hunt" because of her role in shaping a new regulatory system.

Mrs Miller's parliamentary aide Mary MacLeod texted colleagues asking them to speak up in her boss's favour, before touring broadcast studios.

"In some of the newspapers it has been like a witch hunt where they don't like the work that Maria has done on Leveson and gay marriage," she told Sky News.

"Therefore what they are trying to do is to find a way to get her out of the job."

In her article, Mrs Miller again insisted that the committee had dismissed "all allegations against me".

But she made no reference to independent standards commissioner Kathryn Hudson - who recommended she repay £45,000 but was overruled by the cross-party group of MPs, which reduced the sum to £5,800.

"Separately, I have already apologised and repaid an over-claim of my expenses, having myself drawn the committee's attention to the matter immediately I was aware of it," Mrs Miller wrote.

The minister is looking increasingly isolated, with the Prime Minister likely to face questions on the row in the Commons tomorrow and later at a meeting of the Tory backbench 1922 committee.

Former Commons speaker Baroness Boothroyd said Mrs Miller should quit "as a matter of honour" because of the damage she had done to Parliament.

"She is bringing Parliament into disrepute," Lady Boothroyd said. "I think the vast majority of people in this country, if they were asked, would have the same feelings that I have."

The furious peer - a Labour MP before becoming Speaker - said she was "outraged" at the way Parliament had been treated by Mrs Miller.

"I am annoyed, I am very angry. I love Parliament, I have cherished it, I have tried to develop it," she said.

"I feel somewhat outraged that people treat it in this way, quite frankly".

Parliament had been trying to repair the damage done by the expenses scandal in recent years and "this does not help at all", the peer told BBC Radio 4's PM.

She said: "I think it is a matter of honour, a question of honour, quite honestly. People in the past, leading members of government, leading Members of Parliaments have resigned. I think it is for Mrs Miller to have done likewise. I'm sad to say that I regard it as an error of judgment on the part of the Prime Minister that he didn't quietly say to her 'I think it is time to go, thank you for your services, but I think it is time to go'."

Anxiety on the Tory benches has focused on Mrs Miller's "perfunctory" 32-second apology on the floor of the House last Wednesday and her obstructive approach to the commissioner's inquiry.

There are fears the row could reignite public anger over expenses and undermine the party's prospects in forthcoming local and European elections.

Mrs Miller's article in the Gazette was 178 words long, compared to the 79 words in her apology to the Commons.

Tory MP Mark Field told BBC Radio 4's the World at One: "There is this whole public perception here that, rightly or wrongly, the Standards Committee as it is currently constituted is somehow open to being nobbled by senior Government members. In many ways it is that public perception that is so damaging here.

"It led to what many people regard to be an unacceptably perfunctory apology from Maria Miller. The important thing now is that we try and regain trust and it's very clear that the current system of having the Standards Committee, it is now unfit for purpose."

Another Conservative, Zac Goldsmith, expressed surprise that Mrs Miller was still in her job.

"It would be the Prime Minister's decision who he surrounds himself with. I am surprised that Maria Miller hasn't stepped down," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire show.

"This is a decision for her to make or it is a decision for David Cameron to make."

Fellow Tory MP Philip Davies said the continuing row over Mrs Miller was "extremely damaging" for the Conservative Party and needed to be resolved as soon as possible.

"Whether she resigns is a matter for her but obviously the whole thing is extremely damaging for the Conservative Party, it's damaging for Parliament as a whole and politicians - we all get tarnished by the same brush," he told BBC2's Daily Politics.

"It's damaging for the Government, for the Prime Minister. The sooner the matter is resolved, the better."

Yesterday work and pensions minister Esther McVey distanced herself from Mrs Miller, saying "it wouldn't be how I would have made an apology". And backbencher Jackie Doyle-Price, whose Thurrock seat is one of the most marginal in the country, said Mrs Miller should not expect colleagues to speak out in her favour.

Labour leader Ed Miliband also sought to increase the pressure, warning that the Prime Minister had serious questions to answer.

"He's got serious questions to answer about Maria Miller's failure to co-operate with the initial inquiry," he said in his first public comments on the issue.

"The ball is in his court - he's got to answer those questions about her status in the Government."

Pressure for reform at Westminster was strengthened after the three outside members of the Standards Committee - brought in to improve the way MPs are held to account - called for a "fundamental rewrite" of the existing code of conduct.

The three lay members complained that the issue was not taken seriously enough - with some committee meetings having to be abandoned because no MPs turned up - while the system allowed politicians to "ignore the spirit of the law".

But despite the PM's declaration yesterday that he was open to further reform, the Leader of the Commons Andrew Lansley warned MPs that making the standards watchdog fully independent would compromise parliamentary privilege and make the job harder to do.

Dozens of petitions calling for Mrs Miller to resign have been rejected from the official government website.

The e-petitions site lists around 60 proposed titles appealing for people to condemn the minister, but gives various reason why they cannot be hosted - including that it is a "party political" issue and a matter for the parliamentary authorities.

Labour MP Ian Mearns told the Morning Star newspaper: "It seems disgraceful in a democracy that over 60 petitions have been blocked. There should be an opportunity for people to voice their concerns."

A petition on the change.org website urging Mrs Miller repay £45,000 or quit has now attracted nearly 180,000 signatures.

Leader of the Commons Andrew Lansley was asked on the BBC's Newsnight programme whether he thought Mrs Miller would resign. "I don't think so. I hope not," he said. "From my point of view I think she is a good culture secretary."

Mr Lansley said it was the "Prime Minister's prerogative whether a minister has his confidence". He argued that the committee's report did not "disclose any dishonesty", but conceded that the MPs had "differed" with the standards commissioner on the "interpretation of the rules".

Pressed on how long he thought Mrs Miller would stay in her job, he replied: "I think that is an unreasonable question to ask."

Mr Lansley said he wanted to see a "simpler" code of conduct for MPs, but things had already changed since the scandal of 2009 and the public could have "confidence".

Comments (18)

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6:59am Tue 8 Apr 14

RM says...

David Cameron and Maria Miller - best recruiting sergeants for UKIP that Nigel Farage could ever hope to find. Is Cameron truly that dim or does he just not care - his away or no way?
David Cameron and Maria Miller - best recruiting sergeants for UKIP that Nigel Farage could ever hope to find. Is Cameron truly that dim or does he just not care - his away or no way? RM
  • Score: 7

7:01am Tue 8 Apr 14

cosmick says...

Just like to thank Mrs Miller for her help in getting more members for the UKIP party. Please dont leave your job, D C dont listen to the polls keep her on board you havent got many ladys who have been caught taking OUR money it would be silly to put someone honest there.
Did you know a woman with 4 children stole 4 pack beans from supermarket got community service 1st offence.
Still we are all in it together.
Just like to thank Mrs Miller for her help in getting more members for the UKIP party. Please dont leave your job, D C dont listen to the polls keep her on board you havent got many ladys who have been caught taking OUR money it would be silly to put someone honest there. Did you know a woman with 4 children stole 4 pack beans from supermarket got community service 1st offence. Still we are all in it together. cosmick
  • Score: 11

7:30am Tue 8 Apr 14

collos25 says...

The majority of people I speak to no matter what party hey support believe she should be charged with theft lets face it any normal person would suffer this ignominy.I do care if she is the best thing since slice bread she should be in prison no wonder nobody trusts a politician when they behave like they do.
The majority of people I speak to no matter what party hey support believe she should be charged with theft lets face it any normal person would suffer this ignominy.I do care if she is the best thing since slice bread she should be in prison no wonder nobody trusts a politician when they behave like they do. collos25
  • Score: 8

8:28am Tue 8 Apr 14

aworrall says...

Miller needs to go - you are right about nobody trusting a politician when they behave like this. This is why I don't trust Mr Dismore who flipped his second home in the expenses scandal and claimed for food.
Miller needs to go - you are right about nobody trusting a politician when they behave like this. This is why I don't trust Mr Dismore who flipped his second home in the expenses scandal and claimed for food. aworrall
  • Score: 5

8:54am Tue 8 Apr 14

politicaltrainspotter says...

So the revamping of MP's expenses hasn't changed.They are still marking their own homework.Shows you the true value of the Tories..So after watching Michael Meachers speech on sanctions imposed on benefit claimants and a cross party support that some actions were inapproriate given.For example a person gave notice she had a three day hospital appoinment and was sanctioned and yet not only does Maria Miller fiddle her expenses but threatens the standards commision too.Miller must go and the tories should look at camerons leadership.But as said above ' great advert for UKIP.'
So the revamping of MP's expenses hasn't changed.They are still marking their own homework.Shows you the true value of the Tories..So after watching Michael Meachers speech on sanctions imposed on benefit claimants and a cross party support that some actions were inapproriate given.For example a person gave notice she had a three day hospital appoinment and was sanctioned and yet not only does Maria Miller fiddle her expenses but threatens the standards commision too.Miller must go and the tories should look at camerons leadership.But as said above ' great advert for UKIP.' politicaltrainspotter
  • Score: 5

9:10am Tue 8 Apr 14

marccohen53 says...

Maria Miller, Andrew Dismore - no difference, except Dismore never made minister
Maria Miller, Andrew Dismore - no difference, except Dismore never made minister marccohen53
  • Score: 1

10:28am Tue 8 Apr 14

varteg1 says...

She's being hounded? justly so as many see it.

If I trawled the Internet I could probably find dozens, if not hundred,s of cases instances of fraudulent activities for far less sums involved, where the fraudster has been jailed or severely sanctioned somehow, yet here we have a person who is supposed to be above reproach being supported by colleagues in her apparent fraud. At least, apparent to millions through the self same media she would have hamstrung with legal restrictions.

I hope Bercow's left leaning wife gives him severe earache for his refusal to have the matter investigated thoroughly.

If she has any socialist principles at all, his head will not hit his pillow without her castigation of his refusal ringing in his ears all night long.
She's being hounded? justly so as many see it. If I trawled the Internet I could probably find dozens, if not hundred,s of cases instances of fraudulent activities for far less sums involved, where the fraudster has been jailed or severely sanctioned somehow, yet here we have a person who is supposed to be above reproach being supported by colleagues in her apparent fraud. At least, apparent to millions through the self same media she would have hamstrung with legal restrictions. I hope Bercow's left leaning wife gives him severe earache for his refusal to have the matter investigated thoroughly. If she has any socialist principles at all, his head will not hit his pillow without her castigation of his refusal ringing in his ears all night long. varteg1
  • Score: 3

10:36am Tue 8 Apr 14

Jonn says...

Tens of thousands of genuinely sick people have been hounded (in some cases to death) by the DWP and ATOS. They weren't fiddling 'hardworking taxpayers' money, they were just a victim of Conservative ideology and an IT provider who were/are incompetent beyond belief.
Tens of thousands of genuinely sick people have been hounded (in some cases to death) by the DWP and ATOS. They weren't fiddling 'hardworking taxpayers' money, they were just a victim of Conservative ideology and an IT provider who were/are incompetent beyond belief. Jonn
  • Score: 8

10:42am Tue 8 Apr 14

northern pig says...

Oliver Cromwell, the father of parliament dissolved it twice because of corruption.Nothing as changed in centuries.The problem is that as well as the commons we have the lords and the european parliament. The expenses that are fiddled in all three would be eye watering if the public new the truth.In the real world Miller would have been charged with theft and dealt with by the courts.The system is shown to be corrupt ,self regulation does not work,.as we have seen in the last few days.The political system is broken,how do we fix it because it does not matter which lot are in power,they all have their greedy snouts in the trough.
Oliver Cromwell, the father of parliament dissolved it twice because of corruption.Nothing as changed in centuries.The problem is that as well as the commons we have the lords and the european parliament. The expenses that are fiddled in all three would be eye watering if the public new the truth.In the real world Miller would have been charged with theft and dealt with by the courts.The system is shown to be corrupt ,self regulation does not work,.as we have seen in the last few days.The political system is broken,how do we fix it because it does not matter which lot are in power,they all have their greedy snouts in the trough. northern pig
  • Score: 7

11:56am Tue 8 Apr 14

bmoc55 says...

The only people who really have the right to say whether she should stay or go are her constituents.
The only people who really have the right to say whether she should stay or go are her constituents. bmoc55
  • Score: -10

12:32pm Tue 8 Apr 14

welshmen says...

Nothing has Changed, even after the enquiry on fiddling expenses a few years ago, the House of thieves and the trough at the Commons still in use by MP's and the Lords, the important point is you can't trust them, I know there are some that don't fiddle but they are all mostly millionaires.

If we want a fresh start and to stop this and other shameful practices by this and other Governments then we need to support change by Voting for Ukip at the next general election, I would prefer the BNP but i fear the Media and the BBC have done a character assassination on the BNP with out a chance of a rebuttal by the BNP, yet I still believe their day will come when the British people get fed up of floods of unskilled foreigners coming here.

The same Media will also try and destroy UKIP, but what the Media can't change is you've seen the man in action and how he destroyed the second in charge of our Country, simply by just telling the truth, something this Government and others find impossible to do, all you LIBLABCON voters, you have experienced what your Parties have done to our Country, I would urge you for your kids future make the difference and vote Ukip....

Labour voters of Wales, your Party, except for the NHS, have inflicted more damage on Wales than any other Political Party, Blair had a chance to rebuild Wales after Thatcher closed the Pits and Steel Works but failed, he and Jack Straw were more interested in flooding our Country with unskilled Immigrants and spending £Billions fighting wars that were nothing to do with our Country, he also liked lining his pockets with
money.

The Labour Party your parents voted for are long gone, vote for the Purple and Yellow rosette this time around, lets get control of our Country BACK before we lose it for good....One thing we all have in Common on here is, we all Love our Country, Great Britain....
Nothing has Changed, even after the enquiry on fiddling expenses a few years ago, the House of thieves and the trough at the Commons still in use by MP's and the Lords, the important point is you can't trust them, I know there are some that don't fiddle but they are all mostly millionaires. If we want a fresh start and to stop this and other shameful practices by this and other Governments then we need to support change by Voting for Ukip at the next general election, I would prefer the BNP but i fear the Media and the BBC have done a character assassination on the BNP with out a chance of a rebuttal by the BNP, yet I still believe their day will come when the British people get fed up of floods of unskilled foreigners coming here. The same Media will also try and destroy UKIP, but what the Media can't change is you've seen the man in action and how he destroyed the second in charge of our Country, simply by just telling the truth, something this Government and others find impossible to do, all you LIBLABCON voters, you have experienced what your Parties have done to our Country, I would urge you for your kids future make the difference and vote Ukip.... Labour voters of Wales, your Party, except for the NHS, have inflicted more damage on Wales than any other Political Party, Blair had a chance to rebuild Wales after Thatcher closed the Pits and Steel Works but failed, he and Jack Straw were more interested in flooding our Country with unskilled Immigrants and spending £Billions fighting wars that were nothing to do with our Country, he also liked lining his pockets with money. The Labour Party your parents voted for are long gone, vote for the Purple and Yellow rosette this time around, lets get control of our Country BACK before we lose it for good....One thing we all have in Common on here is, we all Love our Country, Great Britain.... welshmen
  • Score: 3

3:22pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Keith B says...

None of us should have to pay to go to work - the cost of working should be covered by the employer. But when I worked in London (living in this area) I either had to pay the petrol to travel or pay for accommodation when I stayed over. But when I was sent to other places such as, say, Liverpool or Doncaster my employer paid my hotel bill, my travel costs and brought me a meal or two. That seemed reasonable. But Government, via the tax man, doesn't think that the cost of GETTING to work is a cost of working, therefore can't be set against my tax bill. So why does Mrs Miller and all other MP's get free travel not only to work in Parliament but also to and from their constituency?

Mrs Miller seems to represent a constituency from which many will commute to London on a daily basis - so how can she seriously justify a home in Wimbledon and another in Basingstoke. Indeed the tube from Wimbledon Common to Westminster will take about the same time as the Express from Basingstoke to Waterloo - about 10 minutes walk from Parliament.

So the second home does seem to be milking the system. On the other hand, two homes and a travel pass for somebody like Charles Kennedy who represents the Isle of Skye, does seem pretty reasonable. And it's about what is reasonable that people are judging our politicians on.

I've no doubt Mrs Miller is hard working, does long hours and probably doesn't see what she was doing was anything that she wouldn't have done in her previous career in advertising and marketing. It was for the shareholders to approve her package. But that's the crux of it - the rules are different when you become a politician taking public money.

I'm not sure if she is guilty of fiddling - I suspect she was simply doing as others were doing before the expenses scandal hit the headlines. Many journalists expenses claims over the years will also not stand up to much scrutiny - so maybe they should stop throwing stones in glass houses - but she does seem to be particularly arrogant and dismissive of us ordinary folk who have to stick to rules that she sanctions from the cabinet table.

Should she resign? Why - they'll only put somebody else in her place who will continue the policy she pursues. But as a figurehead, she is too damaged to continue and if she really believes in this Government she'll go simply to save it more embarrassment.
None of us should have to pay to go to work - the cost of working should be covered by the employer. But when I worked in London (living in this area) I either had to pay the petrol to travel or pay for accommodation when I stayed over. But when I was sent to other places such as, say, Liverpool or Doncaster my employer paid my hotel bill, my travel costs and brought me a meal or two. That seemed reasonable. But Government, via the tax man, doesn't think that the cost of GETTING to work is a cost of working, therefore can't be set against my tax bill. So why does Mrs Miller and all other MP's get free travel not only to work in Parliament but also to and from their constituency? Mrs Miller seems to represent a constituency from which many will commute to London on a daily basis - so how can she seriously justify a home in Wimbledon and another in Basingstoke. Indeed the tube from Wimbledon Common to Westminster will take about the same time as the Express from Basingstoke to Waterloo - about 10 minutes walk from Parliament. So the second home does seem to be milking the system. On the other hand, two homes and a travel pass for somebody like Charles Kennedy who represents the Isle of Skye, does seem pretty reasonable. And it's about what is reasonable that people are judging our politicians on. I've no doubt Mrs Miller is hard working, does long hours and probably doesn't see what she was doing was anything that she wouldn't have done in her previous career in advertising and marketing. It was for the shareholders to approve her package. But that's the crux of it - the rules are different when you become a politician taking public money. I'm not sure if she is guilty of fiddling - I suspect she was simply doing as others were doing before the expenses scandal hit the headlines. Many journalists expenses claims over the years will also not stand up to much scrutiny - so maybe they should stop throwing stones in glass houses - but she does seem to be particularly arrogant and dismissive of us ordinary folk who have to stick to rules that she sanctions from the cabinet table. Should she resign? Why - they'll only put somebody else in her place who will continue the policy she pursues. But as a figurehead, she is too damaged to continue and if she really believes in this Government she'll go simply to save it more embarrassment. Keith B
  • Score: 0

4:02pm Tue 8 Apr 14

whatevernext2013 says...

bmoc55 wrote:
The only people who really have the right to say whether she should stay or go are her constituents.
so if you commit a crime say in london only the people of london should have a say as to your guilt ,in law a crime is a crime every were in the uk ,that is unless your an MP on the fiddle ,i wonder if a person on benefits fiddled the same amount would you be so happy to let them off with it ???
[quote][p][bold]bmoc55[/bold] wrote: The only people who really have the right to say whether she should stay or go are her constituents.[/p][/quote]so if you commit a crime say in london only the people of london should have a say as to your guilt ,in law a crime is a crime every were in the uk ,that is unless your an MP on the fiddle ,i wonder if a person on benefits fiddled the same amount would you be so happy to let them off with it ??? whatevernext2013
  • Score: 0

4:04pm Tue 8 Apr 14

marccohen53 says...

Like I said Maria Miller and Andrew Dismore - really no difference except Dismore already has a job on the GLA with a salary of £50k plus and now wants a second job, standing as a candidate at the next general election - how much more money on top of the expenses he has already claimed does this guy want from the tax payer?
Like I said Maria Miller and Andrew Dismore - really no difference except Dismore already has a job on the GLA with a salary of £50k plus and now wants a second job, standing as a candidate at the next general election - how much more money on top of the expenses he has already claimed does this guy want from the tax payer? marccohen53
  • Score: -1

5:14pm Tue 8 Apr 14

cosmick says...

bmoc55 wrote:
The only people who really have the right to say whether she should stay or go are her constituents.
Not so my taxes go to make up some of that money.
I hope she stays, nothing any person can do to help the UKIP party more than this fiddler.
Just make sure you all support UKIP and vote for change.
For your kids and the sake of our country.
[quote][p][bold]bmoc55[/bold] wrote: The only people who really have the right to say whether she should stay or go are her constituents.[/p][/quote]Not so my taxes go to make up some of that money. I hope she stays, nothing any person can do to help the UKIP party more than this fiddler. Just make sure you all support UKIP and vote for change. For your kids and the sake of our country. cosmick
  • Score: 0

5:53pm Tue 8 Apr 14

UKIP Kiddie says...

God love her. She is being hounded is she. If I stole from my employer I would be sacked like a dog and so should she.
God love her. She is being hounded is she. If I stole from my employer I would be sacked like a dog and so should she. UKIP Kiddie
  • Score: 3

6:50pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Martha Gunn says...

Unbelievable she is still there.
Resignation is no longer enough - she should repay ALL of her "expenses".

In the meanwhile UKIP ratings just go up and up.
Unbelievable she is still there. Resignation is no longer enough - she should repay ALL of her "expenses". In the meanwhile UKIP ratings just go up and up. Martha Gunn
  • Score: 2

11:13pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Bob49 says...

vote UKIP - the only party to out loony the loony party

a party whose manifesto it's leader claimed was barmy

a party that bleats about the Euro gravy train, but has a leader who trousers £2m from ..... Europe

Hypocrites and fruitcakes
vote UKIP - the only party to out loony the loony party a party whose manifesto it's leader claimed was barmy a party that bleats about the Euro gravy train, but has a leader who trousers £2m from ..... Europe Hypocrites and fruitcakes Bob49
  • Score: -1
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