Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk must repay more than £11,000 after a Commons watchdog found he claimed accommodation expenses for two children who were not staying with him. Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) compliance officer Peter Davis said the Labour MP had incorrectly claimed the expenses over a period of three years.
In a report published on Friday (18 March), Davis concluded: "The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the MP obtained an increase to his Accommodation Expenditure budget by claiming dependant uplifts for his two oldest children for a period of over three years, when, at no point were either of the children routinely resident.
"The Compliance Officer must also conclude that this was done knowing that there was no reasonable prospect of the children staying at the accommodation."
Danczuk MP, who was suspended from the Labour Party over a sexting scandal involving a 17-year-old girl in December, has four children in total – two with his first wife Sonia Rossington, and two with his second wife Karen Danczuk from whom he recently separated.
The MP registered his two oldest children with IPSA in April 2012 to claim additional accommodation funding. Danczuk insisted that at the time he would see them regularly.
But this changed after his marriage "deteriorated rapidly compromising his ability to maintain contact with his older children" according to the report. He acknowledged to IPSA the two children did not "routinely reside" with him, as required by the rules, despite still claiming expenses.
"Initially Mr Danczuk said that his oldest son had stayed with him in his London accommodation but he could not recall how often," the IPSA report said. "However, when asked directly by the Compliance Officer if his older children ever stayed at his London accommodation, he replied 'no'."
The investigation into his expenses was opened on 1 February following a complaint made by an unidentified member of the public.
Danczuk said in a statement on Friday he "holds his hands up" and promised to repay all the money "at the earliest opportunity". As well as the £11,583.20 he received for his children's accommodation, IPSA says he must also hand back £96.50 he claimed in parking charges while on holiday in Spain.
Danczuk said: "My accommodation claims were made according to what I believed at the time to be an accurate interpretation of IPSA's guidelines. Regrettably, due to the vague wording of the rules, I inadvertently claimed 10% more than my annual living allowance, money which was paid directly to my landlord in London and not to me.
"I hold my hands up and admit that this was an error on my part. I am relieved that this issue has finally been cleared up and I will of course re-pay the full amount at the earliest opportunity."
The MP, a leading critic of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, has been hit by a series of scandals in the past few months. He was recently suspended from his party after exchanging a series of lewd texts with a 17-year-old girl who had applied for a job in his constituency office.
He was also interviewed under caution earlier this year in connection with a rape allegation dating from 2006 which he has described as "malicious, untrue and upsetting".