Barely two weeks into office and Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron had his first taste of a potentially damaging political scandal on Saturday after a Liberal Democrat Cabinet Minister was forced to apologise over his parliamentary expenses' claims.

David Laws, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, admitted that he was wrong to have claimed some £40,000 over a period of eight years to rent rooms in two properties owned by his long-standing gay partner. He said that he was “immediately'' returning the money and referring the case to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for investigation.

Mr. Laws, who comes from a privileged background and was a high-flying figure in the financial sector before joining politics, said his motivation in not disclosing his relationship with is landlord was that he wished to keep his sexuality private.

“My motivation throughout has not been to maximise profit but to simply protect our privacy and my wish not to reveal my sexuality. I regret this situation deeply, accept that I should not have claimed my expenses in this way and apologise fully,” he said amid calls for him to resign.

Mr. Cameron issued a terse statement saying that he agreed with Mr. Laws' decision to refer himself to the standards commissioner.

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