Heather Brooke welcomes MP expenses FoI victory

Journalist and freedom of information campaigner Heather Brooke has welcomed this week’s High Court freedom of information ruling that the expenses details for 14 MPs should be disclosed.

Brooke, who had worked with the Sunday Telegraph’s Ben Leapman and the Sunday Times’s Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas, said the lengthy legal battle had “severely damaged public trust in parliament”.

“This ruling will wrest control from the old boys’ club and put it back where it belongs – with the constituents,” she said.

“What’s disappointing is that it took three years of concerted effort to counter the relentless opposition from the House of Commons and speaker Michael Martin, who used taxpayer money throughout to block [it].”

Writing on her blog, she adds: “It’s not right that a citizen is forced to fight so hard for such a basic level of democratic accountability from our elected representatives.”

According to the FT, the Commons has already spent in the region of £100,000 on its legal attempt to block the disclosure, and is considering whether it should launch an eleventh-hour appeal.

The Sunday Times, meanwhile, says some of the expenses documents at the centre of last week’s FoI ruling have already been shredded.

Tony Blair’s claim forms, itemising his household expenses, were destroyed by mistake, with Westminster officials unaware that they were the subject of an ongoing legal challenge, the paper claims.

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