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Court rules MPs expenses receipts should be published

Receipts and invoices submitted by MPs in support of expenses claims must be published in full, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Three judges in the court dismissed an appeal by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) which overseas Westminster expenses.

It is understood the ruling could set a wide precedent for all public authorities. Councils, quangos, government departments and other public sector organisations could all be challenged in court over the release of receipts.

The legal action centred on whether copies of original documents should be published - rather than a summary of the claim put in by MPs.

The case stems from a Freedom of Information request to Ipsa in 2010 by the Sunday Telegraph. It asked for three specific receipts submitted by politicians in support of their claims.

The reporter, Ben Leapman, wanted copies of the originals, but was provided with a typed-up transcript. He complained to the information commissioner, who ruled in his favour in 2012, ordering that the receipts be disclosed.

Following that decision Ipsa pursued the case through two tribunal hearings and now to the Court of Appeal, where the three justices also ruled the receipts should be released.

Lord Justice Richards said the order that copies of the original documents should be released would be put on hold while Ipsa decided whether it would appeal to the Supreme Court.

He said although the appeal was concerned with three specific invoices or receipts "it is a test case and has important implications for Ipsa and, no doubt, for other public authorities".

An Ipsa spokesman said after the ruling: "We need to study the judgment carefully.

"The court made clear that this is an important test case with implications not just for Ipsa but for all other public bodies.

"We were right to test the point of law through an appeal to see whether images of receipts add anything additional to all the information about MPs' expenditure that we already release.

"We remain completely committed to openness and transparency and already publish a detailed breakdown of every claim made by every MP."

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