POLITICS

Stewart Jackson MP Brands The Sun 'Phone Hacking Scumbags'

10/05/2013 13:38 BST

Tory MP Stewart Jackson has savaged The Sun newspaper after the tabloid criticised him over his expenses claims.

"I see I've been attacked by The Sun for having the temerity to seek legal redress. Police bribing, phone hacking scumbags," he tweeted on Friday afternoon.

The Peterborough MP is being sued by the parliamentary expenses watchdog (Ipsa) after refusing to repay profits on his taxpayer-funded home.

Jackson has been asked to hand back £54,000 as potential capital gains made on the home since MPs were barred from claiming for mortgage interest.

He said was mounting his own legal challenge against Ipsa, which he accused of over-estimating the capital gain on his family home in his Peterborough constituency and then rushing into "heavy-handed and disproportionate" litigation to recover the sum.

In an editorial titled "Snoutrageous", The Sun today accused Jackson of "money-grabbing" and advised his constituents to vote him out of office in 2015.

"Taxpayers will inevitably end up forking out for a lengthy legal process - to get money back form a man who is supposed to represent their interests," the paper said.

In a statement issues yesterday Jackson said: "All British citizens are entitled to seek legal adjudication if the state's actions are unfair or possibly illegal, and so I will be forcefully resisting their precipitous litigation. The essence of the dispute is my challenge of the valuations of 2010 and 2012.

"Ipsa are seeking a cash sum on a so-called capital gain 'profit' on my family home, in which I live and have not sold," he said.

"The money which Ipsa is demanding retrospectively is more than the total amount I received when I was claiming mortgage interest and the property is now valued at less than we purchased it for in 2005.

"Their assumption is that the value of my property rose by almost 20% over two years whilst house prices fell by 3% in my constituency in the same period."

However Ipsa said: "One of the most damaging aspects of the expenses scandal was the practice where MPs got taxpayer support to own a second home. That is why we said we would stop this, and we have now done so.

"In valuing the property, it was important that we didn't rely on amateur valuations or guesses from the web.

"Instead, we demanded formal valuations at the start and end, from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors - the most authoritative voice in this field.

The expenses watchdog added: "Stewart Jackson provided us with two RICS valuations. As he has been unwilling to pay the £54,000 due we have issued proceedings to recover the sum through the High Court."