Ex-British minister used convicts to paint her house
A former British interior minister arranged for two prisoners on day release to paint her home when they should have been doing community work, the prison service said on Wednesday.
Jacqui Smith, who was home secretary under the former Labour government, arranged for the inmates from a prison in Redditch, central England, to decorate a room at her luxury property in the town.
It is the latest embarrassment for Smith, who resigned as interior minister in June 2009 after admitting to unwittingly claiming parliamentary expenses for pornographic films ordered by her husband on pay TV.
The prison service said the decision to send the convicts to paint Smith's house had been a mistake and an investigation had been launched.
"The decision to provide prisoners for this work was taken without consultation with (the prison) HMP Hewell or the ministry of justice and was a mistake," said a spokesman.
"Offenders should work on projects which help the whole community.
"The scheme has been suspended while a full internal investigation is undertaken."
Smith was one of the high profile casualties of the parliamentary allowances scandal that rocked the British political establishment.
As well as the porn claim, Smith was criticised for questionable housing allowances claimed on her family home. She lost her parliamentary seat in the 2010 general election.
Revelations that lawmakers were reimbursed for everything from ornamental duck houses to home loans which they had already paid off sparked a national scandal and forced a shake-up of the allowances system.
Several lawmakers have been jailed after being convicted of charges related to fraudulent expense claims.
© 2011 AFP