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Home Secretary could be latest expenses victim

BRITISH Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is said to be planning to quit her post, becoming the highest profile victim of Britain's expenses scandal.

The BBC and Sky News reported that Smith will resign as Home Secretary ?one of the most senior jobs in Britain's government ?following criticism over her use of taxpayers?money.

The Home Office, which she runs, manages immigration, counter terrorism efforts, policing, and anti-drug efforts.

Smith's office did not respond to requests for comment.

The 46-year-old minister was criticized after she included ?inadvertently, she said ?two pornographic movies ordered by her husband in an expense claim.

Smith has also faced allegations she manipulated the housing allowance system to maximize the amount she would receive.

Reports of her decision to quit come days before Brown is expected to reshuffle his ministerial team, and possibly fire senior legislators who have been embarrassed by disclosures over their expenses.

Treasury chief Alistair Darling, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon and a host of other Cabinet ministers have acknowledged mistakes over claims, leaving their futures in doubt.

The departure of senior ministers could undermine Brown as he tries to fend off calls for an early election.

David Cameron, the leader of the opposition Conservative Party, which leads Brown's Labour Party in polls, has demanded an election to give the public the chance to oust politicians who have claimed expenses inappropriately.

"They are not actually governing the country, they are not dealing with the economy. We need a fresh start,?Cameron told BBC radio.

Brown must call an election by June 2010, and analysts predict hundreds of politicians could lose their jobs over the scandal.

Smith's position was precarious even before disclosures over her expenses. She failed to push proposed reforms to anti-terrorism laws through Parliament, ignored advice on drug laws and clashed with London's mayor over the future of the city's police commissioner.


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