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MPs attack Robinson blog on Speaker row

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MPs have attacked BBC political correspondent Nick Robinson for a blog post about the House of Commons Speaker's expenses.

He wondered why so many members were defending Michael Martin from allegations he has spent public money on travel for his family.

Robinson suggested several reasons, including that expressed by some MPs - that the Speaker is the victim of snobbish lobby journalists.

Another was that leading politicians believe Martin will leave of his own accord if they keep quiet, or that MPs fear the media will "come for them next".

Today former minister Peter Kilfoyle responded by publishing a motion in the Commons, which has gained the support of more than 50 of his colleagues, criticising the blog post.

It "deplores the innuendo of the blog of Nick Robinson... calls upon him to substantiate the imputations he makes in his blog concerning the Speaker and hon. Members; and also calls upon the BBC to publish a full, itemised account of the expenses of Mr Robinson, in the name of transparency and accountability of public funds".

Robinson responded today in another blog post.

"My aim yesterday was to not to imply that the Speaker has or would abuse his position but to explain why the public statements of support for him did not represent the mood of all MPs," he said.

He stuck by his original point and called on Kilfoyle and others to explain why "the reporting of questions about MPs' and the Speaker's expenses" has angered them.

Robinson came up with some more possible reasons. They include "MPs loathe the intrusion into their private lives that's resulted from increased 'transparency'" and that a committee is now planning a new expenses system that will bolster "public confidence".

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