British treasury secretary quits over expenses scandal

London, May 30 (IANS) Just 17 days into his new office, Britain’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws has quit over claiming expenses to pay rent to his gay partner – plunging the new David Cameron-led coalition government into a crisis.

Laws is repaying 40,000 pounds expenses he claimed for rent he paid to long-term partner and landlord James Lundie.

He said he was resigning to try to limit damage to the new administration and added: ‘This was my decision and mine alone.’

Laws made the announcement on the steps of the Treasury just before 8 p.m. Saturday night.

Daily Express reported that Laws told Cameron in his resignation letter he was not greedy but was guided by a desire to keep his sexuality private.

‘I cannot now escape the conclusion that what I have done was in some way wrong. The last 24 hours have been very difficult and distressing for me, and I have been thinking carefully about what action I should take in the interests of the government, my constituents and, most important of all, those whom I love.

‘At this important time the Chancellor needs, in my own view, a chief secretary who is not distracted by personal troubles. I hardly need say how much I regret having to leave such vital work, which I feel all my life has prepared me for,’ he was quoted as saying.

Yeovil MP Laws had referred himself to the parliamentary standards commissioner after claiming up to 950 pounds a month in expenses for five years to rent rooms in two properties owned by Lundie.

Parliamentary rules bar MPs from ‘leasing accommodation from a partner’.

Cameron said: ‘You (Laws) are a good and honourable man. I am sure that, throughout, you have been motivated by wanting to protect your privacy rather than anything else. Your decision to resign from the government demonstrates the importance you attach to your integrity.’