UPDATED 11.30AM: "I take full responsibility", says former Culture secretary Maria Miller after being replaced by Sajid Javid

The Northern Echo: Culture secretary Maria Miller resigns Culture secretary Maria Miller resigns

MARIA Miller has said she takes full responsibility for her decision to stand down as Culture Secretary, saying that she did not want to become a distraction from the achievements of the Government.

She said she had hoped to carry on in office after she was cleared of the central expenses allegation against her by the Commons Standards Committee but it had become clear it was impossible to do so.

"This has been a really difficult 16 months. Because I was cleared of the central allegation made about me by a Labour Member of Parliament, I hoped that I could stay. But it has become clear to me that it has become an enormous distraction," she said.

"It is not right that I am distracting from the incredible achievements of this Government. 

Asked if she had been pressurised into quitting, a clearly emotional Mrs Miller said: "I take full responsibility for my decision to resign. I think it is the right thing to do to remove what has become really an unhelpful and very difficult distraction for colleagues."

Asked also whether she believed she had been the victim of a media witch hunt because of her role in implementing the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry on press standards, she said: "I take full responsibility for the situation. I fully accept the findings of the parliamentary standards report. This is about that."

David Cameron reluctantly accepted her resignation after almost a week of backing Ms Miller over an expenses row.

The Prime Minister has replaced her with Sajid Javid, who has been promoted from his ministerial role at the Treasury.

The Bromsgrove MP, a former managing director at Deutsche Bank, has long been tipped as a rising star in the Conservative Party and has served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury since last October.

Nicky Morgan is stepping up from her role as Economic Secretary to the Treasury to replace Mr Javid, the Prime Minister said.

Amid signs that support from her colleagues was ebbing away, Mrs Miller issued another apology last night, admitting she had "let people down" in the way she aproached parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Hudson's probe into her accommodation expenses.

But she insisted the standards committee had dismissed the allegations against her - even though it ordered her to repay £5,800 in overclaimed mortgage interest and say sorry on the floor of the House.

The minister also avoided referring to Ms Hudson's recommendation that she should hand back £45,000, a conclusion that was overruled by the cross-party MPs.

Former Commons speaker Baroness Boothroyd became the latest senior figure to demand Mrs Miller's departure, saying it should be a "matter of honour".

"She is bringing Parliament into disrepute," Lady Boothroyd said. "I think the vast majority of people in this country, if they were asked, would have the same feelings that I have."

Anger on the Conservative benches has focused on Mrs Miller's "perfunctory" 32-second apology in the Commons last Wednesday and her obstructive approach to the commissioner's inquiry. There are fears the row could reignite public anger over expenses and undermine the party's prospects in forthcoming local and European elections.

Mrs Miller's article in the Gazette was 178 words long, compared to the 79 words in her apology to the Commons.

Tory MP Mark Field was among those openly voicing concerns yesterday, saying: "There is this whole public perception here that, rightly or wrongly, the Standards Committee as it is currently constituted is somehow open to being nobbled by senior government members.

"In many ways it is that public perception that is so damaging here. It led to what many people regard to be an unacceptably perfunctory apology from Maria Miller."

Another Conservative, Zac Goldsmith, said: "It would be the Prime Minister's decision who he surrounds himself with. I am surprised that Maria Miller hasn't stepped down."

Backbencher Philip Davies said the continuing row over Mrs Miller was"extremely damaging" for the Conservative Party and needed to be resolved as soon as possible.

"Whether she resigns is a matter for her but obviously the whole thing is extremely damaging for the Conservative Party, it's damaging for Parliament as a whole and politicians - we all get tarnished by the same brush," he said.

Earlier this week work and pensions minister Esther McVey distanced herself from Mrs Miller, saying "it wouldn't be how I would have made an apology". Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price, whose seat is one of the most marginal in the country, said Mrs Miller should not expect colleagues to speak out in her favour.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has sought to capitalise on the situation, warning that Mr Cameron has "serious questions to answer".

Pressure for fundamental reform at Westminster was strengthened after the three outside members of the Standards Committee - brought in to improve the way MPs are held to account - called for a rewrite of the existing code of conduct. The three lay members complained that the issue was not taken seriously enough - with some committee meetings having to be abandoned because no MPs turned up - while the system allowed politicians to "ignore the spirit of the law".

But despite the PM's declaration that he was open to further reform, Mr Lansley warned MPs that making the standards watchdog fully independent would compromise parliamentary privilege and make the job harder to do.

Comments (12)

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8:01am Wed 9 Apr 14

Jonn says...

It was the right thing to do.
Now, where is the rest of that 45K ?
It was the right thing to do. Now, where is the rest of that 45K ? Jonn
  • Score: 8

8:34am Wed 9 Apr 14

tubgut says...

Same old same old, the body politic can't be trusted I think it was Ben Elton or one of the late night comedians who summed it up perfectly many years ago "the last person of honest intent to enter the houses of parliament was Guy Fawkes". Westminster is in need of a good disinfecting, there are a few good ones but these appear to be the exception rather than the rule. Use your vote effectively the current situation just cant continue. Forget the 45K it's lost all part of the problem, believing it will change is a lost cause I wish it was different but it is what it is. Time to do something.
Same old same old, the body politic can't be trusted I think it was Ben Elton or one of the late night comedians who summed it up perfectly many years ago "the last person of honest intent to enter the houses of parliament was Guy Fawkes". Westminster is in need of a good disinfecting, there are a few good ones but these appear to be the exception rather than the rule. Use your vote effectively the current situation just cant continue. Forget the 45K it's lost all part of the problem, believing it will change is a lost cause I wish it was different but it is what it is. Time to do something. tubgut
  • Score: 6

9:26am Wed 9 Apr 14

Concered1 says...

If anybody else fiddled £45,000 of expenses they would be in court.
Time for EVERYBODY to get voting.
If anybody else fiddled £45,000 of expenses they would be in court. Time for EVERYBODY to get voting. Concered1
  • Score: 7

9:39am Wed 9 Apr 14

David Lacey says...

The police should be involved. She has stolen the money
The police should be involved. She has stolen the money David Lacey
  • Score: 10

9:58am Wed 9 Apr 14

Jackaranda says...

David Lacey wrote:
The police should be involved. She has stolen the money
I agree, and to further add, the imbecile that is running our country backed this woman, now he has to accept her resignation. This actually makes him more of an imbecile than the imbecilic imbecile he already is!!
[quote][p][bold]David Lacey[/bold] wrote: The police should be involved. She has stolen the money[/p][/quote]I agree, and to further add, the imbecile that is running our country backed this woman, now he has to accept her resignation. This actually makes him more of an imbecile than the imbecilic imbecile he already is!! Jackaranda
  • Score: 8

10:03am Wed 9 Apr 14

stevegg says...

Never mind just resigning from the cabinet, this parasite should resign as an MP, be forced to pay ALL the taxpayers money back & face criminal charges for fraud as anyone other than an MP would have!
Never mind just resigning from the cabinet, this parasite should resign as an MP, be forced to pay ALL the taxpayers money back & face criminal charges for fraud as anyone other than an MP would have! stevegg
  • Score: 9

10:47am Wed 9 Apr 14

smokin says...

my son claimed working tax benefit then changed his job so he informed them and asked for it to be stopped nothing happened and they kept on paying he wrote again and again and still they kept an paying.
then he got a bill in for £500 over payment and had to pay every penny back .
he isn't complaining about paying it back he wasn't entitled to it. So why isn't this woman paying all of hers back she did steal it in my opinion!!!
my son claimed working tax benefit then changed his job so he informed them and asked for it to be stopped nothing happened and they kept on paying he wrote again and again and still they kept an paying. then he got a bill in for £500 over payment and had to pay every penny back . he isn't complaining about paying it back he wasn't entitled to it. So why isn't this woman paying all of hers back she did steal it in my opinion!!! smokin
  • Score: 4

11:44am Wed 9 Apr 14

MossManYfronts says...

"...she did not want to become a distraction from the achievements of the Government."

I laughed so hard at that comment I couldn't read the rest of the article.
"...she did not want to become a distraction from the achievements of the Government." I laughed so hard at that comment I couldn't read the rest of the article. MossManYfronts
  • Score: 3

12:29pm Wed 9 Apr 14

The Grim North says...

Jonn wrote:
It was the right thing to do. Now, where is the rest of that 45K ?
The right thing to do would have been for Cameron to sack her. But I guess at least 90% of MPs are up the same tricks to some degree so a sacking was out of the question as a whole load more would have to go with her.

As for the rest of the 45k they could probaly clear the national debt if the went back through all MPs expense fiddles over the last 20 years or so.
[quote][p][bold]Jonn[/bold] wrote: It was the right thing to do. Now, where is the rest of that 45K ?[/p][/quote]The right thing to do would have been for Cameron to sack her. But I guess at least 90% of MPs are up the same tricks to some degree so a sacking was out of the question as a whole load more would have to go with her. As for the rest of the 45k they could probaly clear the national debt if the went back through all MPs expense fiddles over the last 20 years or so. The Grim North
  • Score: 1

12:57pm Wed 9 Apr 14

behonest says...

Putting party politics aside, how many MPs would voluntarily hand over £45,000 when the Parliamentary Standards Committee (PSC) reviewed their case and made the final decision that it should be £5,800?

None of them, I'd suggest. And none of us would too, if we were in the same position and are honest about it.

Whether the PSC as it stands is in need of reform, to remove public suspicion of MPs 'looking after their own', is another matter of course.
Putting party politics aside, how many MPs would voluntarily hand over £45,000 when the Parliamentary Standards Committee (PSC) reviewed their case and made the final decision that it should be £5,800? None of them, I'd suggest. And none of us would too, if we were in the same position and are honest about it. Whether the PSC as it stands is in need of reform, to remove public suspicion of MPs 'looking after their own', is another matter of course. behonest
  • Score: 0

12:59pm Wed 9 Apr 14

behonest says...

Sorry, I forgot to add, if you don't like the Establishment, then vote UKIP!
Sorry, I forgot to add, if you don't like the Establishment, then vote UKIP! behonest
  • Score: 1

1:00pm Wed 9 Apr 14

Ally F says...

Snouts in the trough. Another career politician with no principles, adopted Tory politics, and bereft of a moral compass has to sit on the back benches for a few months while it blows over. She has grudgingly repaid £5,600 out of £45,000 fraudulently claimed tax payers money.

The audio recording of her advisor trying to ward off an inquisitive journalist shows just how nasty these career politicians are. They surround themselves with 'yes' men and women and think they are above reproach. All too often they are, and it's high time they had to abide by the rules of the land they and their predecessors voted onto the statute book.
Snouts in the trough. Another career politician with no principles, adopted Tory politics, and bereft of a moral compass has to sit on the back benches for a few months while it blows over. She has grudgingly repaid £5,600 out of £45,000 fraudulently claimed tax payers money. The audio recording of her advisor trying to ward off an inquisitive journalist shows just how nasty these career politicians are. They surround themselves with 'yes' men and women and think they are above reproach. All too often they are, and it's high time they had to abide by the rules of the land they and their predecessors voted onto the statute book. Ally F
  • Score: 2

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