Prescott: £15k credit card spree 'wasn't me' ... ex-Hull East MP demands inquiry into smear
LORD Prescott has angrily denied going on a credit card spending spree while Deputy Prime Minister.
Records show £15,400 was spent in bars, restaurants and cafes in two years on the taxpayer-funded card.
They also show £456 spent at a Sydney casino during a visit to Australia to review the country's gambling laws.
But in an exclusive interview with the Mail, the former Hull East MP said: "I am not a happy bunny, to say the least.
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"I have never held a Government credit card and never personally used one.
"The way this has been portrayed as me going out and spending a fortune on food and drink is very annoying,"
He claimed the release of the records was part of a "political dirty tricks" campaign by senior Conservatives.
And he suggested some of the spending might be the result of the department's card being cloned.
Lord Prescott said: "I have got no idea about particular entries.
"You would certainly remember anyone buying £2,000 worth of camera gear but it's news to me.
"The same thing with the golf – I don't even play bloody golf.
"It has been established some cards were cloned and that is the only explanation for some of the things on here."
Earlier this year in a parliamentary answer, minister Bob Neill confirmed records of credit card spending by Mr Prescott's former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister between April 2004 and April 2006 were "contaminated by cloned cards".
Payments include six unexplained purchases totalling nearly £2,000 on the same day from a camera shop in China and £360 at two golf clubs in Kent.
The records also list three separate trips to the London Eye costing a total of £296.
Lord Prescott told the Mail: "I've only been on the thing once in my life and that was then I showing Mayor Daley from Chicago around so why should there be three different entries?
"It is possible someone cloned the card and that is what has shown up in some of these entries.
"I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to clarify this immediately."
Lord Prescott said it was normal for private secretaries in his department to use the credit card to pay for food and drink consumed during day-to-day business.
This included a £400 bill clocked up at Mr Chu's restaurant in Hull in 2004.
"I brought a team of ten up to Hull as part of the work on the Ings estate regeneration scheme and we all had a meal at Mr Chu's," he said.
"If you divide a £400 bill between ten people, it all makes sense but the way it has been made out, it implies that it was just me spending £400 on a meal with Jack Chu."
The records were highlighted this week by fellow Tory minister Grant Shapps, who made no mention of the cloning issue.
Instead, he focused on the credit card payments made during the trip to Australia in late 2004.
Mr Shapps said: "Prezza seems to have a cavalier attitude to the public purse, playing Russian roulette with taxpayers' cash."
But the peer said Mr Shapps was wrong to imply he had been gambling at the casino with the credit card.
"That remark was totally out of order and suggests to me this is all about political dirty tricks," said Lord Prescott.
"We were very careful during that trip not to spend money on gambling with any casino company because of the sensitivities over the issue of super-casino licences we were discussing back in the UK.
"To say I was playing Russian roulette puts a certain image across which is completely false.
"I suspect this is all about trying to smear me and use all this as a smokescreen when the Government was publishing its own departmental credit card spending."