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John Mann, the Labour MP who has called for greater openness on expenses, welcomed Mr Smith’s ruling as “very sensible” and said MPs would be more careful about the claims they submitted if they knew the receipts would be displayed.Graham Smith investigated its refusal and found that the authority had breached the Freedom of Information Act.He gave officials five weeks to hand over the documents or face prosecution for contempt of court.He said: “Transparency affects behaviour positively. Every time there’s an attempt to hide things, using whatever excuse, it creates the impression that there’s something wrong going on.Generally these days I think there isn’t, but the public have a right to know.” Ipsa was set up to restore public confidence following the 2009 expenses scandal, which led to the jailing of four MPs for fraudulent claims - including one, Jim Devine, who submitted fake receipts for £3,000 of cleaning and £5,000 of printing.However, one of the new regulator’s first moves was to halt the publication of receipts – restricting its regular releases to a summary of each claim.In 2010 this newspaper asked to see three specific receipts submitted by MPs, arguing that there was a public interest in viewing them in their original form because extra details could be seen which would not be known from the summary.
However, in his ruling, issued last week, the Commissioner concluded that there were four important types of detail which the summary could not convey – additional text, logos and letterheads, handwritten comments, and layout.
He also found that Ipsa’s summary contained omissions due to “human error” by its staff.
In his decision notice, Mr Smith said: “The recorded information contained within the receipts/invoices can inform the observer about the legitimacy of the expenses claims.
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