UPDATE: It seems the petition will not need to continue as Maria Miller resigned on Wednesday. Read the full story here.
A change.org petition calling for the resignation of Maria Miller if she fails to repay expenses has passed the 160,000 signature mark.
The embattled culture secretary is under huge pressure to hand back £45,000 that she over-claimed on a London property.
The petition states:
After a 14-month investigation, Kathryn Hudson, Parliament’s standards commissioner, said earlier this year that the Culture Secretary Maria Miller should hand back £45,000 in over-claimed allowances for a house in south-west London.
However MPs on the Commons standards committee overruled the commissioner and said Mrs Miller would have to repay just £5,800 and apologise for her “attitude” during the inquiry.
Maria Miller then subsequently gave a 32 second apology. This is an insult to taxpayers at a time when her Government are hitting the poorest hardest.
We call for Maria Miller MP to either pay back the £45,000 fraudulent expense claims or resign.
Fresh questions over the scandal arose on Monday when the The Daily Telegraph said that redesignating the house she shared with her parents in Wimbledon, south London, as her main home would mean that no capital gains tax was payable when it was sold at a reported profit of £1 million earlier this year. The tax is levied at 28% on profits made on the sale of second homes.
But a spokesman for Miller denied that she had changed her second home designation in order to avoid having to sign the declaration, pointing out that the first of three letters from parliamentary authorities was not sent until May 2009, and she stopped claiming all accommodation allowances in April that year.
Miller has indicated she expects to pay thousands of pounds in capital gains tax after making a £1.2 million profit on a home that was part-funded by the taxpayer. Aides to the culture secretary said she would not seek to dodge a bill amid continuing demands for her resignation.
Former Conservative chairman Lord Tebbit became the most senior Conservative to call for her to go, writing on the Telegraph website that her "arrogant" handling of the scandal had revived voter anger over MPs' expenses and adding: "The best way out of this is for Mrs Miller to resign."
David Cameron has made clear that he supports the Culture Secretary - though he did not name her in a list of Cabinet ministers singled out for praise in a speech to the Conservative Spring Forum.
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