Former Midland MP Jacqui Smith – who claimed Commons expenses for pornographic films watched by her husband – has complained she was criticised because she was a woman.
The ex-Redditch MP and Home Secretary claimed people focused on her allowances “because I was a woman and should have been at home looking after my husband and children”.
Ms Smith lost her seat in last year’s general election.
She was one of the first MPs to be caught up in the House of Commons expenses scandal after it emerged she had designated a London property owned by her sister as her main home, allowing her to claim around £116,000 for the upkeep of the family home in Redditch.
It then emerged she had claimed for a telecommunications bill which included two adult films watched by her husband Richard Timney, who was employed as her parliamentary assistant, as well as other pay-per-view films.
Ms Smith said she had submitted the expenses claim without realising what the bill contained.
She has now made a documentary about the pornography industry for the BBC and in an interview Radio Times has complained about the way she had been treated.
Speaking about the moment she realised her husband had ordered porn films and that she had reclaimed the cost, she said: “I was more frozen than angry. I just couldn’t believe that we – both of us – had put in this claim.”
She said she was asked not to resign immediately by the then prime minister Gordon Brown.
Ms Smith said she took responsibility for the claim: “I was the one who did the wrong thing. For claiming it. For not going through the expense form closely enough.”
The incident left her husband “devastated”, she said. “Really. Deeply affected. By what it did to me and the family.”
“I couldn’t have done the job without Richard to pick the boys up when they were sick, make them do their homework and piano practice.”
Ms Smith will be heard presenting a documentary about pornography for Radio 5 Live next Thursday, March 3.
She said it was a “very brave” way to head off the controversy, and hoped it may lead to further opportunities as a broadcaster.