Clegg's bold expenses intervention

Will his call for the inquiry to be widened succeed?

Nick Clegg's intervention in today's Daily Telegraph is a welcome one. It's hard to disagree with him when he argues: "Everyone is talking about whether it is fair to impose retrospective limits -- but actually, the biggest test for Legg is whether he will take on the biggest abusers of the expenses regime or let them off the hook."

I've always thought a clearer distinction needs to be made between those who overpaid cleaners and gardeners and those who personally enriched themselves through phantom mortgages, "flipping" and tax avoidance.

But what chance does Clegg's call for Sir Thomas Legg to widen his inquiry have of succeeding? Almost none, I'd say. After the fierce criticism he has attracted from left and right, Legg will have no desire to reopen the expenses files.

The Labour left-winger Alan Simpson became the first MP to threaten legal action publicly against Legg this morning. "If he thinks that the principle of him coming in and retrospectively rewriting the rules would stand up before the courts, then I think he should be tested before the courts," he told the Today programme.

The apparently arbitrary nature of Legg's findings has caused just as much bewilderment among MPs. Why has Douglas Hogg, who notoriously claimed £2,115 to have his moat cleared, as well as £671 for a "mole catcher", not been asked to return a penny? In time, we should know.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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New Digital Editor: Serena Kutchinsky

The New Statesman appoints Serena Kutchinsky as Digital Editor.

Serena Kutchinsky is to join the New Statesman as digital editor in September. She will lead the expansion of the New Statesman across a variety of digital platforms.

Serena has over a decade of experience working in digital media and is currently the digital editor of Newsweek Europe. Since she joined the title, traffic to the website has increased by almost 250 per cent. Previously, Serena was the digital editor of Prospect magazine and also the assistant digital editor of the Sunday Times - part of the team which launched the Sunday Times website and tablet editions.

Jason Cowley, New Statesman editor, said: “Serena joins us at a great time for the New Statesman, and, building on the excellent work of recent years, she has just the skills and experience we need to help lead the next stage of our expansion as a print-digital hybrid.”

Serena Kutchinsky said: “I am delighted to be joining the New Statesman team and to have the opportunity to drive forward its digital strategy. The website is already established as the home of free-thinking journalism online in the UK and I look forward to leading our expansion and growing the global readership of this historic title.

In June, the New Statesman website recorded record traffic figures when more than four million unique users read more than 27 million pages. The circulation of the weekly magazine is growing steadily and now stands at 33,400, the highest it has been since the early 1980s.