Major Scandal: British MPs caught cheating $$$ from Parliament like NKF
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Expenses scandal fuels election calls
Saturday, May 23 11:28 amMichael Thurston
The shocking MPs' expenses row is fueling calls for early elections, a poll indicated Saturday as a "whistleblower" behind the embarrassing revelations said he was proud of his role. Skip related content
The opinion poll, showing two thirds of Britons want elections this year rather than next, adds to pressure on embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown as he grapples with renewed economic bad news.
In the latest revelations of what MPs have charged to the taxpayer -- ranging from tennis court repairs to a "duck island" over the last two weeks, one was found to have spent thousands of pounds for security gates.
Opposition Conservative business spokesman Jonathan Djanogly will have to pay back 25,000 pounds out of over 77,000 pounds reportedly spent at his property, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Djanogly had automatic security gates installed at his house in Huntingdon, eastern England, at a cost of nearly 5,000 pounds, said the paper, whose revelations over the last 16 days have rocked British politics to the core.
In a statement, the member of parliament said this was on police advice because of threats from animal rights activists.
In the last two weeks, the Telegraph has published the expense claims, paid for from the public purse, of over 200 of the country's 646 MPs, prompting a furious reaction from commentators and the public.
The most high-profile casualty was House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin, who said this week he would quit, while several other MPs will not now stand at the next general election.
Brown has to call an election by next June, but according to a poll in the Guardian newspaper Saturday, two-thirds of voters want him to call a general election before the end of this year.
A separate poll published by the Independent suggested voters turning away from the mainstream parties, with 80 percent wanting independent candidates to challenge "unethical" MPs revealed by the expenses scandal.
The polls come amid renewed economic gloom, dashing recent signs of the recession bottoming out.
On Friday official data showed that the economy is contracting at its sharpest pace in almost three decades amid the worst global downturn since the 1930s.
Bank of England governor Mervyn King's gloomy forecast last week that any recovery will be "slow and protracted" has fueled tensions between Brown and the central bank chief, the Financial Times reported Saturday.
Senior government officials have accused King of handing ammunition to Conservative leader David Cameron, who is hoping to oust Brown whenever the election comes, the paper added.
Saturday's Telegraph also carried the first interview with John Wick, a former special forces officer who acted as middleman -- or "whistleblower" as it called him -- between the source of the documents and the newspaper.
"I have played my part in history. It is now for others to decide on the best way to move forward and punish those who have been exposed," Wick, a Conservative supporter, told the paper.
"I feel proud to have played my part in what the Telegraph rightly describes as 'a very British revolution'."
Many MPs returning to their constituencies late Friday for a 10 day recess faced an angry reaction over the expenses scandal, highlighting the furious mood of voters.
Meanwhile, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams questioned Saturday the impact the revelations were having on public life.
"The continuing systematic humiliation of politicians itself threatens to carry a heavy price in terms of our ability to salvage some confidence in our democracy," he wrote in the Times newspaper.