Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader who has championed the reform of MPs’ expenses, claimed the maximum allowed under his parliamentary second home allowance.
As well as submitting regular claims for food, gardening, furniture and decorating at his constituency home in Sheffield Hallam, Mr Clegg put in his telephone costs, including several international calls to Colombia, Vietnam, and Spain.
Records seen by The Daily Telegraph show that Mr Clegg regularly claimed at or just below the maximum possible under the Additional Costs Allowance, which may be used by MPs to run a second home.
Last year, he had his expenses docked after exceeding the £23,083 maximum by more than £100. His office manager wrote to the Commons fees office: “This month’s claim takes Nick over the allowance total (just).”
The disclosure came as Mr Clegg made a series of high profile media appearances criticising the allowances system.
“People will just simply despair that all politicians look either ridiculous at best or corrupt at worst,” he said. Mr Clegg has also frequently made play of the issue of MPs’ expenses during regular clashes with Gordon Brown.
Last month, he stormed out of a meeting with the Prime Minister in protest at their inability to agree a system.
Within six months of being elected to Parliament in 2005, Mr Clegg bought a house in his constituency and began charging monthly interest repayments of £1,018 on the £279,000 mortgage on his expenses.
He also submitted the stamp duty, land registry and legal costs, totalling £9,244.50.
Over the following months, he fitted the house with a £2,600 kitchen, and had £5,857.63 worth of decorating done.
He claimed for carpets, a laminate floor, tiling and sanding, curtains, blinds, curtain rails and repairs to a garage door.
After a shopping spree at IKEA in 2006, he submitted claims for items including cushions costing £4.99, a £2.49 cake pan and £1.50 paper napkins.
The following July, Mr Clegg had £680 worth of gardening carried out, including work to “build small wall in rose garden”, followed by £760 for the repair of his garden path.
He wrote to the Commons fees office: “When I bought the house the garden had been neglected for years and was very overgrown.
The work undertaken was to deal with this and get the garden back into a position where it can be maintained easily going forwards.” He then employed a gardener to work for four hours a week, submitting claims for £260 a month.
In a form covering the period Aug 2 to Dec 13, 2005, Mr Clegg submitted a claim that included £1,657.32 for food. Last summer, the Liberal Democrat leader said the pressures of the financial crisis had forced his family to stop shopping at Ocado, the online retailer that distributes groceries from the Waitrose supermarket.
The claims also include two bills for the Liberal Democrat leader’s home phone in Sheffield, one for £105.88 and the other for £121.56. These detailed four calls to Colombia, including two mobile phones, three to Vietnam, including two mobiles, and 21 calls to Belgium, including six mobiles.
Contacted by The Daily Telegraph about his claims, Mr Clegg said: “These international calls should never have been charged to the taxpayer and I apologise . I have paid back the total cost of £80.20.
Does anyone have the list of MPs who voted against making expenses public?