FORMER Labour MP Laura Pidcock has been ordered to repay nearly £4,000 to after being found guilty of abusing the parliamentary expenses system.

The former North-West Durham MP was accused of using the system for party political ends weeks before General Election in December where she lost her seat to Conservative Richard Holden.

An inquiry by Parliament’s Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, has found Ms Pidcock sent thousands of elderly constituents letters around changes to the rules for over 75’s TV licences.

She said: “Alterations made by Ms Pidcock to a letter template, provided by the Parliamentary Research Service (PRS), resulted in her mailing becoming party-political in tone and content, and no longer neutral or objective.”

The investigation was sparked after former constituents received the election literature, which looked like official MP communication, and complained to the Parliamentary Standard’s office.

The complaints said it was a misuse of taxpayer resources and brought Parliament in to "disrepute" as the letters had “an intent to confer an undue political advantage on herself and the Labour Party”.

It is understood Ms Pidcock has accepted the findings and apologised for her breach of the rules.

She has now promised to pay back £3,835.32.

In her report, the commissioner, said: “I investigated an allegation that the member had broken the rules on the use of House-provided stationery and postage-paid envelopes by sending constituents a mailing which was party-political in tone and content.

“As a result, I found Ms Pidcock had acted in breach of the rules on stationery.”

The letter from Ms Pidcock to constituents stated that free TV licences for over 75’s will come to an end in June 2020 and will result in up to 3.7 million older people losing their free TV licence.

She said: “This Tory Government has overseen the scrapping of free TV licences for the over-75s, despite their manifesto commitment to maintain free TV licences for over 75’s and has delivered yet another welfare cut to some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“This is a betrayal of older citizens, who deserve dignity in retirement and reward for their hard work.”

In March, Ms Pidcock wrote back to the commissioner and accepted the the ruling that there had been a breach.

She said: “The primary function of the letter I sent to constituents was to inform them of how my office could possibly help mitigate the change to the TV licence entitlement for those 75 and over.

“We wanted to make sure that people were aware we could do a benefits check to see if they were entitled to pension credits which would in turn keep their free TV licence. I am sorry if the way in which I communicated this was not allowed under the rules and I will accept your ruling and will also pay back the House for the resources used for this communication.”

Earlier today, Ms Pidcock issued a statement on the matter on social media.

She said: "As I stated in the evidence I submitted, it was an honest mistake. 

"I wanted constituents to know my office was there for them if they needed our help. 

"Although I am no longer an MP, I have learned so much in my time as an MP and still see it as the most amazing privilege of my life."