updated 6/2/2009 8:10:11 PM ET 2009-06-03T00:10:11

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith plans to quit her post, becoming the highest profile victim of the country's lawmakers' expense scandal, Britain's media reported.

The BBC and Sky News reported that Smith will resign as Home Secretary — one of the most senior jobs in Britain's government — following criticism over her use of taxpayers' money. The Home Office, which she runs, manages immigration, counter terrorism efforts, policing, and anti-drug efforts.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office declined comment on the reports. Smith's office did not immediately respond to repeated requests for comment.

The 46-year-old minister was criticized after she included — inadvertently, she said — two pornographic movies ordered by her husband in an expense claim. Smith has also faced allegations she manipulated the housing allowance system to maximize the amount she received.

Reports of her decision to quit come days before Brown is expected to reassign roles in his ministerial team, and possibly fire senior legislators who have been embarrassed by disclosures over their expenses.

Futures in doubt
Treasury chief Alistair Darling, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon and a host of other Cabinet ministers have acknowledged mistakes over their claims, leaving their futures in doubt.

The departure of senior ministers could undermine Brown as he tries to fend off opposition calls for an early national election.

David Cameron, the leader of the main opposition Conservative Party, which leads Brown's Labour Party in polls, has demanded an election to give the public the chance to oust lawmakers who have claimed expenses inappropriately.

"They are not actually governing the country, they are not dealing with the economy ... we need a fresh start," Cameron told BBC radio.

Brown must call a national election by June 2010, and political analysts predict hundreds of politicians could lose their jobs over the scandal.

Smith's position was precarious even before disclosures over her expenses. She failed to push proposed reforms to anti-terrorism laws through Parliament, ignored advice from her own scientific advisers on drug laws and clashed with London's mayor over the future of the city's police commissioner.

Hoon, who was defense secretary at the time of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, promised Tuesday to reimburse taxpayers for $630. He said he'd mistakenly claimed expenses on two different homes at the same time — including charges for home insurance and an energy bill.

Darling promised Monday to repay about 700 pounds ($1,150) for having mistakenly charged simultaneous expenses on two homes. Parliament limits lawmakers to claims on only one property.

The disclosures are among latest revelations about legislators' claims for items ranging from horse manure to tennis court repairs, which have triggered widespread anger. In all, 14 lawmakers — not including Smith — have said they will not run for re-election.

More on lawmakers expense scandal

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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