Tuesday, 3.40pm. MP Douglas Hogg has denied newspaper reports that he claimed more than £2,000 in expenses to have the moat at his Lincolnshire home cleaned.
The Daily Telegraph revealed on Monday and Tuesday that Mr Hogg used parliamentary allowances to help meet the cost of a full-time housekeeper for his Kettlethorpe Hall home, near Saxilby, just north of Lincoln.
Other claims included the cost of running the housekeeper's car, a gardener, bills for a mole catcher and a call-out to have bees removed. Parts of the house and estate go back to the 13th century and, according to expenses documents leaked by the Telegraph, Mr Hogg had claimed 2,000 for having his moat cleaned out as well as repairs to 'stable lights' and piano tuning.
But the Sleaford and North Hykeham MP told the Standard: "I have never claimed for the moat, or for the piano tuning - the allegation that I did is incorrect. I never claimed for these and I never received any money.
"The work to the stables that the Telegraph mentioned was actually for maintenance of security lights which were installed by the Home Office as part of the response to an IRA threat."
He said he had issued, in the interests of full transparency, full lists of all his expenditure on the property but these were never meant to be the record of a claim.
Mr Hogg said it was clear to the fees office that the overall allowable expenses were over the Additional Costs Allowance and that his claim only covered utilities, council tax, building insurance, the alarm system, heating, repairs and maintenance of house and garden and 65 per cent of the cost of a housekeeper to clean and maintain the house and look after it when he and his wife, Baroness Sarah Hogg, were away.
He said: "It was on this basis and with the express agreement of the fees office, in advance and in writing that I was making a monthly claim equal to one-twelfth of the ACA."
Mr Hogg added: "I am amongst the lowest claimers in parliament – specifically 551st out of 645 MPs in 2007/8.
"There is no doubt that our system has lost public confidence and we as parliamentarians have got to accept that we are responsible for having put the system in place and that it is probably flawed.
"We got it wrong and need to apologise for that, and I do apologise for it."