Dagenham and Rainham MP admits ‘stupid mistake’ after claiming for £30 funeral flowers

Barking and Dagenham General Election 2015

Barking and Dagenham General Election 2015 - Credit: Archant

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas has apologised for a “stupid mistake” after “accidentally” claiming £30 on expenses for funeral flowers.

The former Labour policy coordinator, who is currently leading an inquiry into his party’s election failings, submitted a claim for constituent funeral flowers in December – a bill paid in full by parliamentary authorities.

An MP for 14 years, Mr Cruddas insists it was a genuine mistake.

“It was totally my fault,” he admitted. “It’s embarrassing to say the least.

“I feel bloody stupid about it and I will certainly make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“I’m getting it sorted out now, but I have to hold my hands up.”

The 53-year-old, who quit the shadow cabinet last month, says he bought a pair of bouquets from West and Coe funeral directors, in Rainham Road South – just down the street from his Dagenham constituency office.

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“I bought two bouquets of flowers on the same day and it just looks like I submitted the wrong receipt,” he added.

“It was a stupid mistake and I feel like a bloody fool.

“There was a mistake my end, IPSA alerted me and thank goodness they did.”

A one-time deputy party leader candidate who helped to write his party’s election manifesto, Mr Cruddas held onto his seat last month with a winning margin of 4,980 votes.

Andy Silvester, campaign director at the Taxpayers’ Alliance blasted the MP over the claims.

“This does not look good at all,” he said.

“Local residents will be deeply disappointed in their MP and he must explain how and why this has occurred as there is simply no excuse.

“There’s no question that local people will have imagined Mr Cruddas was funding such a gesture out of his own pocket, not taxpayers’, and it’s the two-faced nature of claims like this that really grates.”

A spokesman for IPSA said: “On March 5 we identified this claim as not allowable under the rules as part of our retrospective audits that pick up any ineligible claims.

“The MPs’ office was informed on May 13 that this money is owed and it will be reclaimed in full by IPSA.”