30 Mar 2009


LONDON, England (CNN) -- Leading British Cabinet minister Jacqui Smith's political future is in doubt after her husband admitted to paying for adult movies with taxpayers' money.

The home secretary's husband, Richard Timney, has apologized for the "embarrassment" he caused his wife, while she has promised to repay the money spent, including the £10 ($14) charge for the two films, the British Press Association reported.

According to British media reports, Smith had not seen the videos and was "mortified" that they had "mistakenly" been paid for using her MP's expense account.

Timney, who Smith pays £40,000 ($56,000) a year to be her office manager, submitted an expense claim last June for a £67 ($95) Virgin Media bill for television services in the couple's family home in Redditch, Smith's constituency, The Guardian newspaper reported.

It reported the bill included two adult films, at a cost of £5 ($7) each, as well as two viewings of the heist movie "Ocean's 13" and one of "Surf's Up," a children's film about a penguin.

The revelations could not come at a worse time for Smith, who is already being investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over her decision to claim at least £116,000 ($164,000) in second-home allowances for her family home since becoming an MP.

She has claimed the second-home allowance for her family home while living with her sister in London. Smith designated her sister's house as her "main" residence, allowing her to claim the money for her family home.

Conservative and opposition leader David Cameron described the latest news as "deeply embarrassing" for Smith.

He said Smith had "questions to answer," PA reported.

"I do not think this individual thing is the issue. I think she has got some questions to answer about the second home issue. It does seem to me pretty incredible to claim that the home where her family is, that is not her main home.

"I think this goes to a deeper problem, which is the second home allowance for MPs. The prime minister has ordered a review but he has sort of kicked it into the long grass.

"The review doesn't start until September, it is not going to report until after the next election. That is hopeless. We have got to get on with it."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended Smith.

"The home secretary is doing a great job and I do not think this issue should be allowed to detract from everything she is doing to ensure we protect the public and keep our neighborhoods safe," he said.

"She has done the right thing by taking steps to rectify the mistake that was made as soon as she became aware of it.

"This is very much a personal matter for Jacqui. She has made her apology, her husband has made clear that he has apologized."

Last week Brown ordered a review of the complex and opaque system of MPs' pay and allowances.

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