News of Wales : Plaid Cymru MPs have been found guilty.

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November 24th 2007

Three Plaid Cymru MPs have been found guilty of misusing a parliamentary allowance.

The parliamentary standards commissioner announced on Monday that Elfyn Llwyd, Adam Price and Hywel Williams used their communications allowance to pay for double-page adverts in local newspapers in the week before the Welsh assembly elections in May.

Sir Philip Mawer recommended that the nationalist MPs repay the taxpayer around £5,000 each.

His findings were backed by the Commons standards and privileges committee which agreed that the adverts were "likely to be seen not as reports to constituents but as material promoting Plaid Cymru ahead of the election".

The MPs accepted the conclusions but insisted they had acted in "good faith", with the spending signed off by the Commons Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).

"We accept the ruling of the parliamentary commissioner and the standards committee," Plaid parliamentary leader Llwyd said. "My colleagues and myself will comply fully with it."

And one of the three Welsh Labour MPs who complained about the adverts, Ian Lucas, said: "The communications allowance was brought in to enable better understanding of the work of parliamentarians and it undermines all MPs if it is misused.

"To use taxpayers' money for electoral campaigning is plain wrong.

"To vote against the allowance, then use it mere weeks later to fund co-ordinated advertisements, knowing they would run during a closely-fought assembly election campaign, brings the allowance into disrepute.

"The MPs involved have now been told by both the Electoral Commission and the Commons that they misused their allowances and I hope they will not only pay the money back but also do the honourable thing and apologise."

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