Expenses pressure too much for watchdog

By politics.co.uk staff

The head of operations at parliament’s expenses watchdog has quit “for the sake of my health and my sanity”.

Nigel Gooding, director of operations at the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, told the Mail on Sunday newspaper he did not want to continue in the role he had been appointed to on an interim basis because he was “too drained to carry on”.

Mr Gooding and fellow Ipsa staff have been suffering at the hands of MPs’ criticisms of the new system for expenses since parliament after the general election last month.

Many backbenchers are frustrated by the new rules, especially the £110,000 annual staffing budget.

Ipsa had tried to soothe their complaints by providing a £4,000 expenses advance for MPs.

That did not stop Labour’s Paul Farrelly describing the new system as “prehistoric, amateurish, self-defeating and bureaucracy gone mad”.

The Mail on Sunday reported that the watchdog was forced to erect a sign outside its Westminster office warning MPs not to abuse its staff.

“I have decided to take a break that I desperately need,” Mr Gooding told the newspaper, before insisting pressure from MPs was not the reason for his exit.

“I have been called a lot worse on the football pitch than I was at Westminster. I am looking forward to relaxing for a few weeks and watching the World Cup.”

Ipsa announced that its former deputy director of finance, Kate Mathers, was taking over from Mr Gooding “to enhance the link between Ipsa’s finance and operations function”.