MPs fighting expenses claims risk further stoking public anger

The eighty MPs that have defied demands to repay their expenses are certain to exacerbate public anger, PR experts warn.

Risk of public anger: Westminster
Risk of public anger: Westminster

The Telegraph this morning reports that of the approximately 200 MPs asked by Sir Thomas Legg to pay back some of their expenses claims, around a third of those have submitted appeals by yesterday's 3pm deadline.
 
Despite party leaders urging MPs to accept Sir Thomas' findings, A number of MPs are reportedly angry at the demands to repay four and five figure sums and have pledged to fight the requests.
 
George Hutchinson, head of public affairs at Burson-Marsteller said: ‘Sometimes it is not about what is fair, but about what is right.'
 
He added: ‘These MPs are in a lose/lose situation. They effectively had no choice but to repay the money, but have still chosen the wrong option. This has become an untenable situation and will only increase public anger, particularly during a significant recession.'
 
Chris West, account director, Insight Public Affairs concurred: ‘This is one PR battle MPs simply can't win, so the best option seems to be to ‘suck it up' and pay, even if you think you've been hard done by.'
 
West, however, sympathised with some of the MPs fighting to clear their names: ‘If your employer changed the rules on expenses, misapplied them to the previous five years, and charged you 25 per cent of your annual salary, maybe you'd be forgiven for challenging them. For the handful of MPs who've been genuinely hard done by, they must choose between facing the wrath of national and local media on the eve of a General Election, or finding themselves significantly out of pocket.'

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