Heather Brooke: My five-year fight to see MP expenses

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Freedom of information journalist Heather Brooke says she was “livid” when the MPs’ expenses details she had spent five years fighting to see came out as a result of a newspaper leak.

Writing in the Guardian today, Brooke explains what prompted her to make an initial request to the House of Commons in 2004 – and the lengthy legal battle that ensued.

“As a campaigner I was thrilled to see the details finally put into the public domain. This is important information that the public have a right to see,” she says.

“But as a journalist, I was livid. I asked myself – what is the point of doing all that work, going to court, setting a legal precedent, dealing in facts, when every part of the government conspires to reward the hacks who do none of these things?”

But Brooke goes on to say that she doesn’t begrudge the Daily Telegraph, which first broke the story this time last week and has been steadily releasing more details each day.

“It is getting the story out in the most cost-effective way possible,” she says. “What’s unforgiveable is that the House of Commons repeatedly obstructed legitimate requests and then delayed the expense publication date and that MPs went so far as to try to exempt themselves from their own law.”

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