Smith clings on despite continued furore over expenses claims
JACQUI Smith, the Home Secretary, was clinging to her political life last night after being buffeted by the double scandal of her second home allowance and adult film expenses.
Ms Smith faces pressure to quit over the revelation she claimed just under the 23,000 allowance for her second home, after insisting she uses a bedroom in her sister's house as her main residence.
Ms Smith is being investigated because of complaints about her decision to designate the house in south London, where she stays, as her "main" home, allowing her to claim back the costs of running her family house in her Redditch constituency.
Her overall expenses claim, including travel, office and staffing costs, was 157,631.
That included 25 journeys for her husband, Richard Timney, who is employed as her parliamentary assistant, at a public cost of 2,531.
Ms Smith, already facing criticism for her second home allowance, was plunged into a scandal when it emerged Mr Timney had ordered pay-to-view porn films which had been charged to taxpayers.
Despite apologies from the couple, Ms Smith is tipped to be one of the casualties of a possible summer reshuffle.
Greg Mulholland, a Liberal Democrat MP, said both Ms Smith and Tony McNulty, the employment minister who also claimed for a second London home where his parents lived, should resign for "bringing parliament and the government into disrepute".
Ms Smith's seat is a top Tory target and the Prime Minister could demote her, allowing her to spend more time campaigning there.
One Labour MP said: "It does not look good for her at the moment. It is a question of how long she can cling on."
But Gordon Brown gave his backing yesterday.
The Prime Minister said: "The Home Secretary is doing a great job and I do not think this issue should be allowed to detract from everything she is doing to ensure we protect the public and keep our neighbourhoods safe.
"She has done the right thing by taking steps to rectify the mistake made as soon as she became aware of it.
"This is very much a personal matter for Jacqui. She has made her apology, her husband has made clear that he has apologised. The best thing is that Jacqui Smith gets on with her work, which is what she wants to do."
David Cameron, the Tory leader, said the latest revelations were "deeply embarrassing" for Ms Smith, but stopped short of calling for her resignation.
He said Labour MPs should adopt his system of being able to account for every penny of expenses. "Sunlight is the best disinfectant," he said.
Ms Smith made no comment as she arrived at an awards ceremony in London last night to be confronted by camera crews.
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