Several MPs stand accused of verbally abusing staff of the new expenses watchdog.
The accusations were detailed in documents released today under the freedom of information act (FOIA) by the independent parliamentary standards authority (IPSA).
The watchdog was set up in May following a series of disclosures – also triggered by FOIA – of MPs’ expenses claims.
IPSA recorded 10 separate incidents of its staff complaining that MPs behaved in an offensive or inappropriate manner.
The disclosed documents do not name the MPs, who are accused of launching foul-mouthed tirades against staff and of aggressive and intimidating behaviour.
Complaints range from one MP telling staff that they were “monkeys” to another exclaiming repeat-edly: “This system is a fucking abortion!”
One female MP is alleged to have told staff: “I am going to murder someone today.”
A male MP was said to have refused to take part in an induction session to explain the new expenses system and to have thrown papers with his personal details at the facilitator. When told that he would have to take an induction course, the MP became “angry and patronising”, striking a laptop on the facilitator's desk and “loomed over the facilitator in an intimidating manner.”
Another male MP was said to have been “very difficult and disruptive” during his induction session, directing his anger towards a young woman volunteer who eventually burst into tears and had to be pulled out by another member of staff. The MP immediately apologised, and later returned with a box of chocolates and a note for the volunteer.
Denis MacShane, a Labour MP and former Europe minister, confirmed that he was the MP concerned in this latter incident. However, he criticised IPSA’s description of the episode, saying that it was “a very partial, one-sided account”.
“It is rather disturbing that, if secret files are being kept [on] MPs, we are not seeing them, and then they can be released to the press in a very biased, malicious, one-sided manner.”
MacShane said that IPSA was to blame for his difficult induction session because it relied on a volunteer to explain the new rules. “We went into a melee of people and some very nice, young ladies, volunteers from a civil service department, were told to teach us this computer training course, which has defeated every MP. After 10 minutes, I was getting upset and saying, 'Look, I want to be an MP, I don't want to have to grapple with this bureaucracy.'
“She got upset; there were tears in my ears. I just stopped, ran out and got the biggest box of chocolates I could find. All the IPSA brass were standing round and putting these young ladies in the frontline.”
A spokesman for IPSA said: “These instances relate to the early days of operation. IPSA is focusing on getting on with its job. Last week, for example, IPSA handled 4,000 claims and paid £650,000 to MPs.”
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