Good news! Commons authorities defeated in court

It's great news that the High Court have thrown out the case brought at the taxpayers' expense by the House of Commons authorities to try to keep details of MPs' expenses secret. Having fought the case for years, the Commons authorities decided to try to overturn a ruling of the Information Tribunal, the expert body on Freedom of Information, by going to the High Court. It's great news that Heather Brooke, Ben Leapman and Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas have won their case. Now we'll have to hope Michael Martin knows when he's beaten and releases the information, rather than carrying on this costly struggle.


It's simple, really - it's our Parliament, they are our MPs and it's our money. Taxpayers have a right to know how their representatives are spending taxpayers' cash. Releasing this information would be a great step not only in terms of accountability and transparency but also for the standing of Parliament in the public's eyes.


The decision by Mr Martin to drag this out through the Courts was unnecessary, futile, costly for taxpayers who had to foot the lawyers' bill and ultimately harmful to Parliament's reputation. Most MPs probably don't do anything wrong with their expenses, and indeed a lot of MPs are happy for this information to be released, but the Speaker's blinkered determination to keep the facts secret just makes them look like they've got something to hide.


Even if Mr Martin had won his appeal, what would have been the result? The public would be outraged that they were being denied the right to see how their money is spent, whilst the suspicion of Parliamentarians that is currently riding high would be heightened further.


This verdict is a great victory for democracy, transparency and taxpayers. It should never have taken so long and cost so much, but at least the High Court have come out with right decision. Let us hope Mr Martin accepts he was in the wrong, acknowledges the public's right to know and publishes the information immediately. A further appeal would do even more damage to the people's faith in Parliament, and would be utterly unjustified - the Speaker should rule it out immediately.

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