London: 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 today.
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
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
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.