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British Paper Asks The Crowd To Check Over 450,000 Pages Of MPs Expenses

British Paper Asks The Crowd To Check Over 450,000 Pages Of MPs Expenses
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Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 19 june 2009

Over a month ago in the UK, the Daily Telegraph spurred public furor after the broadsheet newspaper released details of parliamentary official’s botched expenses. MPs had apparently submitted expenses for off-limit items including the cleaning of one Member’s moat. The backlash got so intense that the Speaker of the House was forced to resign – the first to resign in over 300 years.

After this and a number of MPs promising to stand down at the next general election, it looked like everything calmed down but it looks like another British paper is not finished with its hunt. The Guardian has released a crowd-sourced website that asks readers to check through all expenses submitted by MPs over the last four years. The site contains 457,153 pages of documents of which 361,521 need to be reviewed. When someone finds something suspicious they can flag it for further investigation by the newspaper. in the Instructions on the site say:

We hope that many hands can make light work of the thousands of documents released by Parliament in relation to MPs’ expenses. We, and others – perhaps you? – are using these tools to review each document, decide whether it contains interesting information, and extract the key facts.

Some pages will be covering letters, or claim forms for office stationery. But somewhere in here is the receipt for a duck island. And who knows what else may turn up. If you find something which you think needs further attention, simply hit the button marked ‘investigate this!’ and we’ll take a closer look.

How to get involved:

Step 1: Find a document
Step 2: Decide what kind of thing it is and whether it’s interesting
Step 3: Copy out any individual entries
Step 4: Make any specific observations about why a claim deserves further scrutiny

Examples of things to look out for: food bills, repeated claims for less than £250 (the limit for claims not backed up by a receipt), and rejected claims.

Browsers can also look through all the expenses on the site and even pull up the expenses others think need investigating.

Guardian: MPs Expenses

[via Innovation In Newspapers

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