FOUR Labour MPs have claimed expenses for getting caught offering to peddle their influence to the highest bidder like common whores.
Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt, Geoff Hoon and Margaret Moran have all submitted claims for around £3000 each, covering the cost of answering the phone to journalists and a new wide screen television so they can watch themselves getting caught, as well as the customary selection of luxurious bath products and emergency double glazing.
Byers, who was caught on film during a sting operation, said that he was 'a bit like seaside donkey waiting to be ridden', while Hewitt told the undercover reporters that she did 'happy endings but no kissing'.
The former defence secretary Geoff Hoon told the reporters that he still could not believe that other people were willing to pay him to do things given the fact that he is 'after all, incredibly Geoff Hoon'.
Former transport secretary Byers claimed he controlled a network of invisible spies inside his old ministry and could make all the planes fall out of the sky at the same time; former health secretary Hewitt told a paracetamol company she could make everyone's headaches last longer, while Luton MP Moran claimed she could 'probably dig out the switchboard number of the department of trade and industry, or whatever it's called these days'.
The scandal could damage Labour's election campaign by undermining the party's hard-won reputation as wise and principled public servants who have always put the country before their own political or financial interests.
Meanwhile a Downing Street source said the fact that the three former ministers at the centre of the scandal are all high profile critics of the prime minister was 'obviously nothing more than a coincidence, if you believe in that sort of thing'.
The source added: "And if anyone else wants to make trouble I'm sure we could coincidence the fuck out of them as well."