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Expenses scandal MP to stand down

PUBLISHED: 18:13 21 September 2009 | UPDATED: 10:52 12 August 2010

STEPPING DOWN: Jacqui Lait.

STEPPING DOWN: Jacqui Lait.

AN MP who came under fire in the expenses scandal has announced she is standing down at the next general election. Jacqui Lait, MP for Beckenham,

AN MP who came under fire in the expenses scandal has announced she is standing down at the next general election.

Jacqui Lait, MP for Beckenham, said she has "thoroughly enjoyed" her time in Parliament but will not be standing for re-election in 2010.

She revealed her intentions in a letter to Beckenham Constituency Association yesterday (20).

Mrs Lait was forced to repay £7,000 after over-claiming interest for the mortgage of her second home in Beckenham between October 2003 and December 2006 and defended spending £160 of taxpayers' money on a kitchen pan.

Mrs Lait said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 12 years. It has been very satisfying and rewarding. There are lots of challenges still to come for whoever succeeds me."

She said she has no idea who will replace her and that it is a matter "entirely for the Conservative Association" to decide.

Mrs Lait and her husband Peter Jones, who has just been re-elected as leader of East Sussex council, returned from a five-week trip to Australia last Friday.

Two weeks were spent on official business for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) while three weeks were a holiday.

Flights for the trip were funded by the UK CPA via the taxpayer while the Australian CPA funded the accommodation and subsistence.

Asked whether she would be returning to her main home in Rye, East Sussex, when she retires, she said: "I don't know what other challenges there are. There are plenty of other challenges in life."

She declined to elaborate on the nature of these "challenges".

The letter outlining her resignation reads: "I have for some months now been considering whether it might be time for me to move over for a younger person. Indeed, I first mentioned that I was thinking about retirement to the Chief Whip in March this year.

"Given the probable timing of the next General Election, I thought it only fair to the constituency to come to a final decision over the summer months.

"I will obviously remain an active MP until the dissolution of this Parliament and I look forward to working with new candidate for Beckenham over the coming months."

* What do you think about Mrs Lait's resignation? E-mail kate.nelson@archant.co.uk or call 0208 269 7013.

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