A former Labour minister was dragged into the Westminster expenses furore last night after it emerged that he had claimed more than £16,000 for a mortgage that did not exist.

Elliot Morley, a former agriculture minister, said he had mistakenly claimed mortgage interest on his constituency home for more than 18 months after the loan had been paid off.

'I do not believe any offence has been committed. I have reported this to the finance department and chief whip,' Morley said last night. 'I have made a mistake, I apologise for that and I take full responsibility. My priority was to repay and if I suffer financially as a result of that, I have only myself to blame.'

The unfounded expenses claim is the most serious of a torrent of revelations on parliamentary costs that have enraged the public and stunned MPs.

Financial Times, Daily Telegraph