Maria Miller has resigned from her cabinet position after a week of bad press and public anger over her expenses saga.
Miller tendered her resignation this morning saying “the present situation has become a distraction from the vital work this Government is doing.” The full resignation was sent to Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday morning, just hours before the final Prime Ministers Questions ahead of the Easter recess.
Maria Miller has come under pressure to resign from her post following a report into her expenses claim on a second home, for which a committee said she could pay back just £5,800 instead of the £45,800 the Parliamentary Commissioner had recommended.
The standards committee criticised Miller’s attitude towards the inquiry. Writing in the Basingstoke Gazette on Tuesday, Miller said: “I have unreservedly apologised for the way I handled and approached the inquiry.” The committee cleared her of the main allegations relating to expenses fraud. The case has raised questions on whether MPs should be allowed to investigate themselves over expenses claims.
David Cameron responded to Miller’s resignation saying: “I think it is important to be clear that the Committee on Standards cleared you of the unfounded allegations made against you, a point which has been lost in much of the comment in recent days.”
“You can be extremely proud of your work in Government – as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, as Minister for Women and as Minister for Disabled People.”
The Prime Minister added that he would hope she can return to the Government Frontbench in “due course.”
On Tuesday, Miller’s personal private secretary Mary Mcleod blamed the media for the current backlash. Mcleod likened it to a “witch hunt” and that Miller’s work on overseeing press regulation following the Leveson Inquiry had played a part in the story.
Mary Mcleod MP told Sky News: “In some of the newspapers it has been like a witch hunt where they don’t like the work that Maria has done on Leveson and gay marriage.” She confirmed that she had sent a text message to a number of Conservative MPs stating that there was a “witch hunt” and said Maria would “appreciate your support.” Maria Miller’s full resignation letter can be viewed below.
Dear Prime Minister
It is with great regret that I have decided that I should tender my resignation as a member of the Cabinet.
I am very grateful to you for your personal support but it has become clear to me that the present situation has become a distraction from the vital work this Government is doing to turn our country around.
I have been a member of the Conservative Party for more than 30 years. As a working mother, educated at a South Wales Comprehensive School, I know that it is our Party that understands the importance of giving everyone the opportunity to succeed regardless of where they come from.
I am immensely proud of what my team have been able to achieve during my time in Government: ensuring that our arts and cultural institutions receive the rightful recognition that they deserve in making Britain Great; putting women front and centre of every aspect of DCMS’s work; putting in place the legislation to enable all couples to have the opportunity to marry regardless of their sexuality.
Of course, implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson on the future of media regulation, following the phone hacking scandals, would always be controversial for the press. Working together with you, I believe we struck the right balance between protecting the freedom of the press and ensuring fairness, particularly for victims of press intrusion to have a clear right of redress.
I will continue to support you and the work of the Government as you move forward. Ensuring the best future for the people of Basingstoke has been my priority throughout the last 9 years. Whether on the front or back benches of the House of Commons I will continue this work.
The only reason I was able to become an MP and indeed a Government Minister and Cabinet Minister is because of the unstinting support of my husband, my mother, my father and my three children. I owe them all a great deal.