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MP's expenses revealed after two-year battle

Moffat gives up fight to keep details from public

A Scottish Labour MP who ran up the highest travel bill of any Westminster politician has had a breakdown of her expenses published after a two-year battle for disclosure.

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Anne Moffat's record bill was made up of thousands of pounds' worth of first-class rail and air fares, as well as trips to Malta and Portugal.

She is now being asked further questions about her expensive trips, particularly those to Glasgow and central London.

The landmark decision to publish the claims may open the floodgates for a spate of other revelations about MPs' allowances.

It follows a two-year fight by Green Party activist Michael Collie for publication of Moffat's travel bill.

The Labour MP was criticised after billing the taxpayer for nearly £40,000 in travel costs between 2003 and 2004, the highest claim of the year, Her huge bill led to questions being asked about the nature of her claims and prompted Collie to request more details through freedom of information (FOI) legislation.

The UK parliament's decision to refuse publication of Moffat's claims was overturned by the Information Commissioner, whose judgment was backed earlier this year by the Information Tribunal.

Westminster authorities stepped up their defiance by taking the matter to the High Court, an extraordinary move which they only backed down from last month. Collie was handed a breakdown of Moffat's expenses on Friday.

The figures show she claimed £9792 in rail fares over the 12-month period, including £7211 for journeys from London to "Glasgow or Edinburgh".

These 26 journeys cost an average of £277 each, a sum that suggests the Labour MP was travelling first class. A standard return between both cities, in 2007 prices, costs £91. She also claimed £1817 in rail fares for 42 trips between Heathrow and Central London, with each ticket averaging £43.

At today's prices, a standard "open return" between the airport and King's Cross station costs £13.60, while the Sunday Herald was quoted a price of £18 for a "first open return".

Moffat, formerly Anne Picking, also racked up £15,712 in air fares between London and Edinburgh or, "in a few cases", Glasgow. The 51 tickets averaged £308.

Despite claiming around £22,000 in rail and air travel between London and Scotland, she also managed to claim £12,289 in mileage for a total of 24,129 miles.

In addition, she claimed £910 in travel for visiting Lisbon on parliamentary business, and £942 for a trip to Valletta in Malta.

The controversial Labour MP slashed her extravagant travel claims as a result of the fallout from her record bill.

Between 2006 and 2007, she claimed around £12,000 in travel - a 70% drop compared with three years earlier.

Publication of the travel bill is another blow for Moffat, whose reselection as the Labour candidate for East Lothian is the subject of an internal party investigation.

Moffat won the reselection vote despite failing to win the support of a majority of branches. Her victory was further marred by Labour bosses confirming an inquiry into the way the ballot was conducted.

Collie said: "Ms Moffat has some serious questions to answer. How can she claim over £1800 for travelling by rail between Heathrow and central London? And, how can she justify a mileage claim of almost 25,000 miles?"

"I'd be amazed if the local party will not now deselect Ms Moffat."

Moffat could not be reached yesterday.

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