CLACTON MP Douglas Carswell has defended the amount of cash he claimed on expenses over the last year.

Figures have been released for the MP expense claims between April 2011 and March 2012.

Mr Carswell chalked up claims totalling £39,442.86 in that time span, the highest claim of any MP in Essex.

His biggest claims were just over £14,000 for office costs and nearly £13,400 in accommodation costs.

He also claimed £4,300 for travel expenses and more than £2,500 for stationary.

Mr Carswell says his claims figure is higher than other MPs in the county because he has to rent accommodation close to the House of Commons.

He said: “Gazette readers have a right to know how taxpayer money is used by their representatives.

“Given the anti-social hours the Commons sits, and the fact I have a young family, I need to have a home both in my Clacton constituency, and close to the House of Commons.

“I therefore rent a modest two bedroom property, and that accounts for a large portion of my claim.

“For the record, I have only ever rented a property, and never charged any mortgage to the taxpayer.

“Other costs relate to the costs associated with doing my job, such as office costs, the cost of renting a constituency office, staff costs and work related travel costs.

“If MPs were not able to claim any such costs, I imagine only independently wealthy individuals and those with private means would stand for office, as was the case at one time.”

In comparison Harwich MP Bernard Jenkin claimed just under £21,000 in the same time period, while Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell claimed just under £26,000.