MP Bernard Jenkin has been asked to refund £63,250 of expense payments, the Conservative confirmed today.

The North Essex MP ended speculation by revealing the size of the sum he has been told to return, for breaking rules by renting a house from his sister-in-law with public money.

His decision to break his silence prompted friends and prominent figures to rally behind the North Essex MP, who has been harder hit financially than colleagues who used expense accounts to fund luxury lifestyles.

Taxpayers’ Alliance chief executive Matthew Elliot, whose group has been furiously campaigning for Westminster expenses reform, said he believed Mr Jenkin was “hard-done-by”.

He said: “It seems unfair to pick out people such as Bernard Jenkin, because when he set up the agreement with the fees office and his wife's sister's property, they were fully aware of it.

“In fact my understanding is the rent was below the market value, so it wasn't a bad deal for taxpayers.

“I do think that he's been slightly hard-done-by when other MPs have done far worse and, frankly, got away with it.”

Mr Jenkin, who has made representations to Sir Thomas Legg but will abide by his final decision, said: “I am extremely grateful to the taxpayers’ alliance for making the distinction between people who might have abused the system and others like me who were just caught up in it.

“I recognise that the expenses system was deeply flawed and that some of us have to pay back some money.”

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