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UK Parliament censors expense claims

BRITAIN'S Parliament posted copies of lawmakers' expense claims online yesterday, but censored almost all of the juicy details that have triggered public anger and forced dozens of legislators to resign.

Copies of the claims, and about 1.2 million receipts, were posted on the Internet following a four-year legal battle by freedom of information advocates and concerted efforts by the House of Commons to block publication of the details.

But the addresses of lawmakers' second homes, the destinations on train tickets, the hotels used, the numbers on phone bills and other details have been blacked out. The heavy deletion marks inserted into the material make it impossible to determine what many of the claims are - or whether there was an attempt to manipulate Parliament's rules.

Even the most notorious claim, a 1,645 pound (US$2,666) charge for an ornamental duck house for a pond, made by an opposition Conservative lawmaker, has been blacked out.

Details of the claims have been disclosed over the last month after an uncensored copy was leaked to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The revelations have led dozens of lawmakers to quit ministerial jobs, or announce they'll soon leave Parliament.

The outraged British public paid back the country's major political parties by voting in large numbers for fringe groups in recent local and European elections.

Police and prosecutors have said they will not pursue criminal investigations into allegations against most of the lawmakers.

However, some allegations must be reviewed further before that determination can be made.



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