Just when MPs thought it was safe to stick their heads above the parapet, presumably thinking that the public were getting bored with the Telegraph’s revelations – even its latest opposition to the censorship all over the claim forms and receipts, the Guardian has weighed in; so now newspapers from both sides of the political spectrum are aiming their guns at Parliament.

The Guardian’s campaign 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 297,058 need to be reviewed.  When someone finds something suspicious they can flag it for further investigation by the newspaper, instructions on the site say:


‘Join us in digging through the documents of MPs’ expenses to identify individual claims, or documents that you think merit further investigation.  You can work through your own MP’s expenses, or just review any one of the outstanding documents

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, 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.’

Power to the people; where social networking is being used to create New Mediaccountability.  Could it be that the world wide web has rekindled the public’s interest in politics, albeit for the wrong reasons?  However, in order to dislike something you have to have an opinion about it and that means taking an interest and engaging.

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