Maria Miller has resigned as culture secretary after an ongoing row over her expenses refused to die down.
The Tory MP, who was relatively hands-off with the broadcast industry during her near two-year tenure, said the expenses issue “has become a distraction from the vital work this government is doing”.
It follows days of mounting media and political pressure over Miller’s future after she was cleared of funding a home for her parents at taxpayers’ expense, but was told to repay £5,800 of the expenses she claimed.
In her resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, she said: “I am immensely proud of what my team have been able to achieve during my time in government: ensuring that our arts and cultural institutions receive the rightful recognition that they deserve in making Britain great; putting women front and centre of every aspect of DCMS’s work; putting in place the legislation to enable all couples to have the opportunity to marry regardless of their sexuality.”
Cameron replied: “As you leave the government, you should be proud of your service on the frontbench and in opposition. I am personally very grateful for the support you have always given me, and which I am sure that you will continue to give.
“I hope that you will be able to return to serving the government on the frontbench in due course, and am only sad that you are leaving the government in these circumstances.”
Miller became culture secretary in September 2012 following a reshuffle that saw Jeremy Hunt handed responsibility for the Department of Health.
She was in post during the BBC’s tumultuous Jimmy Savile and payoffs scandal and played a role in ensuring the corporation addressed its governance structures. She would have been heavily involved in charter renewal negotiations next year.
More broadly, Miller has overseen press regulation discussions and last year was responsible for the publication of the communications policy paper, which set out plans to abolish retransmission fees and protect the prominence of PSBs on new content distribution platforms.
Miller also played a part in renewing ITV, Channel 5 and Channel 4’s licences for another 10 years.
Maria Miller’s resignation letter
Dear Prime Minister,
It is with great regret that I have decided that I should tender my resignation as a member of the cabinet.
I am very grateful to you for your personal support but it has become clear to me that the present situation has become a distraction from the vital work this government is doing to turn our country around.
I have been a member of the Conservative Party for more than 30 years. As a working mother, educated at a South Wales comprehensive school, I know that it is our party that understands the importance of giving everyone the opportunity to succeed regardless of where they come from.
I am immensely proud of what my team have been able to achieve during my time in government: ensuring that our arts and cultural institutions receive the rightful recognition that they deserve in making Britain great; putting women front and centre of every aspect of DCMS’s work; putting in place the legislation to enable all couples to have the opportunity to marry regardless of their sexuality.
Of course, implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson on the future of media regulation, following the phone hacking scandals, would always be controversial for the press. Working together with you, I believe we struck the right balance between protecting the freedom of the press and ensuring fairness, particularly for victims of press intrusion to have a clear right of redress.
I will continue to support you and the work of the government as you move forward. Ensuring the best future for the people of Basingstoke has been my priority throughout the last nine years. Whether on the front or back benches of the House of Commons I will continue this work.
The only reason I was able to become an MP and indeed a government minister and cabinet minister is because of the unstinting support of my husband, my mother, my father and my three children.
I owe them all a great deal.