Smith: I was "humiliated" by expenses scandal
Former home secretary recalls "horrible" impact of the scandal but insists she retains her honour
Former home secretary Jacqui Smith has described the impact of the expenses scandal on her as “horrible” and said that the “intense pressure” on her family had been one of the key factors in her resignation from the government.
In an interview with the BBC World Service, she also said that she was angered by the leaking of her resignation before the recent reshuffle.
Smith, the MP for Redditch, became the first cabinet minister to be embroiled in the expenses scandal after she was revealed to have registered her sister's London house as her main home. This allowed her to claim expenses on her family home, her designated second home. Smith's neighbours claimed she only spent a couple of nights a week with her sister.
She was further embarassed when it was revealed that she had claimed for two pornographic films watched by her husband.
Reflecting on this period, Smith said: “Having to fight your way out through TV cameras when you go out of your house in the morning, having press photographers outside your house for weeks on end is a real intrusion. It's horrible”.
She added: “I could have coped with it on my own but my oldest son was doing, has just finished in fact, his GCSEs ... and I just felt that it was not fair on all of them.”
Smith defended her home arrangement, pointing out that until 2004 ministers’ were required to register a London property as their main home.
“So I didn't, as some people have done and been criticised for, change the allocation at that point,” she said.
"I stuck with what the rules had been before."
She insisted that other than the “intensely embarrassing” claim for pornographic films, she had met the “high standards that I set myself” and did not feel “personally ashamed”.
Smith said that the departure of several other female ministers, including Hazel Blears, Caroline Flint and Margaret Beckett, had been “bad for the government”.
She also argued that descriptions of her as “stroppy” reflected a double standard in the treatment of male and female politicians.
“A lot of language that has been used, not only about me but about other women politicians, I just don't think would be used about men” she said.
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