A Tory MP today defended her decision to charge the taxpayer for mileage to attend a DUCK RACE.
Sheryll Murray, Tory MP for South East Cornwall, claimed £6.40 at 40p per mile to attend the event in Seaton, Cornwall, in July, when more than 1,000 plastic ducks were dumped into the river while their ‘owners’ waited eagerly on dry land.
Murray, whose duck was among the winners, stood in the middle of the river in her wellies to collect the fastest duck at the winning post.
Her decision to charge mileage comes after the duck house became the symbol of the expenses scandal when Peter Viggers, a then Tory MP, claimed for its £1,645 cost.
But yesterday Murray was unrepentant, saying: ”I promised my constituents I would be very open about my expenses.
”At the duck race we had a big net across the mouth of the river to stop ducks going out to sea. My duck came third.
”I feel I am getting a lot of criticism as a result of simply being honest. I want the public to see exactly where I have been, which is why I said that I had been to a duck race. I sold ducks for the charity event, and was asked to go along to support it..
”But I have mentioned the ‘D-word’, and people are reacting to it. If I had said I was simply attending a charity event, very little would have been said about it.”
Murrray also gave her prize from the winning duck to charity.
She added: ”I don’t go in for duck houses. That was for the last parliament, not this one.”
Her duck race claim emerged as MP’s expenses were released last week, which revealed Murray was the highest claiming in the West Country. She was paid £15,755 in 222 claims between May and August.
These included repayment for a toilet roll holder, bin bags and plates as well as £1.60 for part of a light fitting and £4.04 for light bulbs.
She also claimed £4 for mileage to and from ”dinner with the captain” at HMS Raleigh, the Royal Naval training facility in Cornwall.
”The captain of HMS Raleigh always invites the local MP to dinner,” she added.
”A lot of those smaller claims for light bulbs and bin liners were for my constituency office because I don’t see why the staff should have to pay for it themselves.
”I am fully entitled to claim for mileage when on Parliamentary business. These claims may seem small individually but they add up to a lot of money going out of my wages. If I didn’t claim them back, I wouldn’t be left with very much.”