MPs reacted with relief yesterday to their letters from the man sent to audit their expenses claims.

Tory grandee Sir John Butterfill, Conservative MP for Bournemouth West, has been asked to pay back around £2,000 but said his letter from Sir Thomas Legg “virtually exonerates” him.

He had already paid back £17,500 voluntarily after controversy over his second-home expenses.

He said the £2,000 repayment being requested was for several things including lost receipts for having a boiler fitted, and also for mistakenly claiming expenses during a general election.

The letter did not raise any questions about Sir John’s £17,000 claim for refurbishing the staff quarters at his former Surrey mansion.

Jim Knight, Labour MP for South Dorset, has been provisionally asked to repay £1,906 after Sir Thomas queried an allowance used to claim a computer for his second home, and a mistaken overpayment on a mortgage claim. He said: “I look forward to resolving the queries as soon as possible. If I should be required to make any repayments I will do so in full.”

Annette Brooke, Liberal Democrat MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, said: “I have been asked to repay £238.78 which covers a period in 2004 when I claimed on the wrong form. It’s not an invalid claim.

“They are asking for more information relating to my rent which is surprising, but I have the information so I am not worried about that.”

Robert Syms, Tory MP for Poole, said his letter had queried a £6,000-7,000 repair bill for maintenance work in 2005. He said the office had lost the paperwork and he would be resubmitting it.

“My general feeling is one of relief. Everything goes through your mind if accountants are going through five years of accounts,” he said.

“I think the principle of an audit is good.”

Christopher Chope, Conservative MP for Christchurch, said: “I have got no problems with my letter. There are a couple of queries relating to forms which I shall be dealing with accordingly.”

The letter made “no reference whatsoever” to an £881 trip to get a sofa up-holstered in Bournemouth rather than London.

No queries were raised over the expenses of Desmond Swayne, MP for New Forest West, who welcomed the new rules. “To a certain extent, while it doesn’t restore reputations, it will assuage public anger,” he said.

Bob Walter, Conservative MP for North Dorset, said he had still not received his letter.

The Echo was unable to contact Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East.

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