MPs use taxpayers' money to pay for election mail

LONDON - Labour MPs, including former Bethnal Green & Bow MP Oona King, have been accused of trying to break the rules to retain their seats by sending mailshots at taxpayers' expense.

Of the 20 MPs with the highest postal bills, 19 were Labour, and 13 of them were battling for some of the most marginal seats in the country. King, who lost her seat to expelled Labour MP George Galloway, spent £37,147 mailing constituents.

However, Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhan McDonagh, who is still in the Commons, ran up the biggest bill. She sent 120,000 letters in 12 months, an average of 800 letters for every day that Parliament sat. Her letter-writing cost taxpayers £37,442 in postage and £11,191 in stationery in the year to April.

Rules state that MPs are entitled to free postage for letters sent on parliamentary business. However, they are not granted free postage for letters sent for party political or electioneering purposes.

McDonagh defended her letter-writing by saying that she receives thousands of letters every week and writes thousands of letters a week to keep people informed of developments in her constituency.

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