FORMER Bracknell MP Andrew MacKay has been ordered to apologise for “fundamentally wrong” expenses claims.

Mr MacKay and his MP wife Julie Kirkbride both stood down before the last election after it emerged that they boosted their Parliamentary expenses by each nominating different properties as their main home. They were ordered by Sir Thomas Legg in his inquiry to each repay £29,243 - two thirds of the amount that they received - and despite trying to appeal against it, the repayment level was upheld by expenses auditor Sir Paul Kennedy.

In a report published today (Thursday), Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards John Lyon condemned Mr MacKay’s decision to nominate his wife’s property in her Bromsgrove constituency as his main home from 1997-2009.

He said: “This was a serious misjudgement which was sustained over more than 12 years. It resulted in very significant sums of public money being paid to Mr Mackay.

“It could very easily have been avoided at the outset by Mr MacKay recognising that London was his as well as his wife’s main home. And it could have been avoided if Mr MacKay had recognised that it was anyway not acceptable for him and his wife to receive payments from parliamentary allowances for both their shared homes.” Mr Kennedy did not consider whether Ms Kirkbride should apologise because no complaint was made against her. He did though find that she was within the rules in claiming interest on the additional mortgage which she and Mr MacKay took out to extend her Bromsgrove constituency property by building a third bedroom for a child carer.

The group of MPs that considered Mr Lyon’s report, the Standards and Privileges Committee, concluded that Mr MacKay breached the rules relating to second home allowances and ordered him to apologise in writing. However, as Mr MacKay is no longer an MP, their demand is not enforceable. They said: “In our view, it should have been obvious to Mr Mackay that the arrangement whereby he and Ms Kirkbride each designated the other’s second home as their main home, allowing both to be funded from Parliamentary allowances, was fundamentally wrong.” Mr MacKay had defended his actions by saying that he never attempted to disguise them and thought he was acting on advice from the Fees Office.

The committee said though: “We are very disappointed that, even after seeing the Commissioner’s full report, Mr MacKay maintains that he did not break the rules, when it is quite clear that he did.

“Mr MacKay has already paid a high price for making such a serious misjudgment. The very fact that Mr Mackay is no longer a Member of Parliament shows what a heavy political price he has paid. He has also repaid a considerable sum of money.

“Nonetheless, we expect Mr MacKay, having read our Report, to apologise for the breach in writing. Had Mr MacKay still been a Member of this House, we would have recommended that he apologise on the floor of the House by means of a personal statement and we would have recommended a period of suspension from the service of the House.” After leaving Parliament, Mr MacKay accepted a job with lobbying firm Burson Marsteller.

Mr MacKay was unavailable for comment.