Peter Hoskin

How bad could this get?

How bad could this get?
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There's little more to add to this alarming snippet from the Daily Mail, except to say that the publication of MPs' expense receipts looks set to become the most damaging scandal of Gordon Brown's premiership:

"Three Labour MPs are said to be terrified that the release of their expenses claims will expose them as adulterers and financial cheats.

Four ministers are also understood to have warned party whips they might have to resign for abusing the system, when MPs' receipts are published before the summer recess in July.

The three unnamed backbenchers are said to have been placed on 'suicide watch' by Labour whips, who fear they might break down when the details of their excesses come out.

Two are understood to have had extra-marital affairs with other members of Parliament.

Not only are they believed to have shared hotel rooms during annual conference get-togethers and party away days but also to have double-claimed for the rooms on their expenses.

If both MPs have claimed for the bill they will be branded frauds as well as love cheats when journalists and freedom of information campaigners sift through their receipts.

The third backbencher is said to have made 'grotesque' financial claims.

A Commons source told the Mail: 'The whips have three Labour MPs on suicide watch. That's how serious this scandal is. The whips believe they might kill themselves." If Brown comes out badly from the votes on his election reforms today - which looks eminently possible - then you feel he's missed the opportunity to take anything like a lead on the issue. That would hardly leave him, or his government, well-positioned for the horror stories to come.