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Ten years ago the MPs’ expenses scandal gripped the nation, with story after story showing our elected representatives taking advantage of us, making claims for such things as a floating duck-house, moat-cleaning services and 550 sacks of horse manure.

There followed a genuine crisis of confidence in our governing class. In desperation, MPs set up an independent regulator – the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). No sooner had they done so than it came under fire: from the newspapers for not doing what they wanted, and from MPs for doing what they’d voted for but didn’t really intend.

Author Ian Kennedy was the chair of IPSA for its first seven years. Here, he describes in detail how the greatest political horror story for decades was finally laid to rest.

Along the way, Kennedy was shouted at by MPs, threatened by government ministers, repeatedly grilled by committees and abused in the corridors of Westminster, with social media in overdrive and the media piling in for good measure. Cleaning Up the Mess describe the bullying, the bitterness and the occasional kindnesses he experienced.  But above all it shows how a thick skin, courage and a belief that IPSA was doing the right thing kept the show on the road.


Ian Kennedy somehow volunteered for one of the most difficult jobs in British politics – sorting out a new, independent system for MPs’ expenses after the terrible scandal in 2009 which rocked confidence in Parliament to its foundations. He did a terrific job, and survived, despite the brickbats thrown at him by some MPs and the media. His account is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand how MPs got into this quagmire – and how Ian Kennedy got them out.

Jack Straw

A courageous and important work. This deeply shocking book must be taken very seriously indeed by anyone who cares about the integrity of the British Parliament.

Peter Oborne

After the extraordinary farrago of MPs’ expenses Ian Kennedy was given the job of clearing up the mess, and despite the criticism raining down from all sides, he managed to change the system. It is a fascinating story of public service at a time when politics itself was in the dock.

Philip Collins
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  • Hardback, 320 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785904943
  • 4 June 2019
    Available to pre-order
  • £20.00

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  • ISBN: 9781785904967
  • 4 June 2019
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