“I am sorry about this,” he [later] wrote. “I am afraid that the reality of life over the last few years is that I’ve often had to complete the claims in marginal time and without recourse to all the records.”
You know what Mr Straw? We are all busy, and usually we just fail to claim on expenses at all rather than making up the figures and taking the money. The reason we do this is that our employer would rightly have us fired and/or prosecuted for conduct such as yours. If you couldn't be bothered to look up the Council Tax bill you received, or the bank statement on which the true payment appeared then where exactly did you look up the figure (we note that the fictional figure changed each year, you didn't want to miss an increase!) . You ask us to believe that you ignored at least eight documents which you had in your posession, in favour of some other source? and that this was an honest mistake? Negligent, incompetent, careless, greedy, arrogant and cavalier might begin to address it - but an "honest mistake"?
"Its kind of normal thing that may happen not just to MPs. I have acted in complete good faith, and I have a certainly acted within the rules," he said.
Here is the news, Mr Straw. This is not the kind of thing which happens to normal people, and you did not act within the rules. The rules pre-suppose that your claim is an honest one, and that you have taken reasonable care to make it so. Normal people get fired or go to prison for making false claims (which, by definition, have been accepted as "within the rules" by their company cashiers, the equivalent of the fees office). In the Public sector benefit cheats are prosecuted over claims which were accepted at face value and, in the first instance, paid. They don't get away with saying that they were busy and that as a result though it would be OK to lie about their circumstances.
This line from the Government is a disingenous cover up, they will have to do better.