A NORTH-EAST MP last night urged colleagues not to repay expenses claims under rules imposed retrospectively by an outside auditor.

Middlesbrough MP Sir Stuart Bell said it was unfair that the rules on expenses were being applied retrospectively – despite his own claims not being called into question.

He received a letter late last night, which stated that he was not required to make any repayments.

But earlier, when he believed he was likely to be told to pay back £800 of a cleaning bill, he said: “I will say to the inquiry that these were claims made according to the rules as they were written down and it’s not right to reapply them now.

“I think my constituents will know that every claim I made was proper.”

Asked what other MPs should do, Sir Stuart said: “MPs will be perfectly entitled to say it is not in the interests of fairness or justice, if their claims were made on the basis of the rules that are now being rewritten.”

His stance is a sign of growing mutiny at Westminster, and his rebel views put him at odds with Gordon Brown, who has agreed to pay back £12,415, following the audit of past claims by Sir Thomas Legg.

The Prime Minister was found to have overclaimed £10,716 for cleaning, £302 on gardening and to have put through a £1,396 decorating bill twice.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will repay £910 of gardening claims, while Conservative leader David Cameron agreed to supply paperwork relating to a £218 mortgage overpayment he has already repaid.

On a day when the expenses scandal came back to haunt MPs, former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was forced to apologise to the Commons for breaching second home rules – although she was not required to pay back any further money.

However, many of the 500 MPs believed to have been sent letters highlighting expenses’ claims of concern – and inviting them to refund the public purse – had not received them by early evening.

Labour MP Sir Stuart, and many other MPs, are furious that Sir Thomas has apparently torn up agreements on reasonable claims to impose a retrospective £2,000 annual limit for cleaning and £1,000 for gardening.

Sir Stuart, who sits on the Commons estimates committee, which will rule on excessive claims, agreed that any MP ordered to repay money in Sir Thomas’ final report – expected in December – would be required to obey.

But he said his colleagues were within their rights to challenge the initial findings.

Some of Sir Stuart’s constituents gave the MP their backing last night.

Community campaigner Eddie Johnson said: “I do support his stance on MPs expenses.

“Some MPs have a had a really hard time off it for small discrepancies and I’m sure that there are bigger problems in the private sector.”

Anne McIntosh, Conservative MP for the Vale of York, spoke for many MPs when she said that she would not be commenting until she had responded to Sir Thomas’ letter.

She said: “Each of us is expecting to receive a letter. If Sir Thomas requests further information, obviously I will be happy to comply fully with his request.”

Last night, Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson became one of the first to reveal the contents of his letter.

He is to repay £224.92 because the Fees Office has mistakenly reimbursed him twice for an electricity bill.

“I’m pleased it’s been pointed out and I will put a cheque in the post straightaway,” he said.

“It wasn’t me claiming twice. It was them paying me twice. I never noticed and neither did they.”

■ Millionaire peer Lord Paul, a friend of the Prime Minister who funded his leadership campaign, is to be investigated over £38,000 allegedly claimed by designating as his main home a flat that he never slept in.