FOI victory as MP is forced to reveal spouse's £40,000 travel expenses
MPs could be forced to reveal details of their spouses travel expenses following a victory by Freedom of Information campaigners yesterday.
The House of Commons authorities announced they were giving up High Court battle to stop a Labour MP being forced to publish the details of her and her husband's journeys.
Freedom of Information campaigners had requested to see an itemised breakdown of Labour MP Anne Moffat's travel expenses after it emerged that she had racked up a £40,000 bill in 2003.
Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, ruled that East Lothian MP Miss Moffat should submit her receipts for public scrutiny after finding that their release would not breach her privacy.
Commons authorities then lodged an appeal against the order for the release of the travel claims with the High Court, but last night confirmed they had abandoned the fight.
A spokeswoman for the Commons said: "An appeal was lodged with the High Court. After further consideration, this has now been withdrawn." A spokesman for Mr Thomas welcomed the decision saying that the public had the right to know about taxpayer-funded travel.
"The journeys for which an MP may claim reimbursement relate to official business and are therefore paid for out of public funds," the spokesman said.
"The public has a right to know how public money is spent by politicians and public officials.
"MPs' travel expenses relate to individuals acting in an official, rather than a private, capacity and in the Information Commissioner's view, disclosure of this information will not impinge an MP's personal privacy."
The move follows the publication yesterday of MPs' expenses and allowances for last year which revealed that they claimed a total of £87.6 million.
Earlier this year, MPs were last night made to reveal details of their £5million a year travel expenses after losing a two-year battle under the Freedom of Information Act and had to admit to some startling claims.
Yesterday's decision means they may now also have to disclose how much of this travel related to their spouses, who are entitled to make up to 15 free journeys a year.
The Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged the government would be more open in dealing with FOI requests.
He also launched a three-month public consultation on extending the Freedom of information Act to private firms.
FOI victory as MP is forced to reveal spouse's £40,000 travel expenses | the Daily Mail
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