Maria Miller
Maria Miller

Maria Miller has resigned as culture secretary following the recent row over her expenses.

Miller, who assumed the post in September 2012, said in a resignation letter to the prime minister that she was stepping down to avoid becoming a "distraction" to the government.

She added: "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."

PM David Cameron accepted her resignation, saying he was "sorry" she had decided to go.

The news comes after a week of intense criticism of Miller's expenses claims for her "second home" in Wimbledon.

The Independent Standards Commissioner last week found that Miller had broken House of Commons rules and should repay £45,000 in expenses she claimed on the house, which she later sold for a £1.2 million profit. This figure was subsequently reduced to £5,800.

David Cameron said he hoped that Miller, who became an MP in 2005 and also served as minister for women and equality, would be able to return to the cabinet "in due course".

She was considered a key figure in the recent legalisation of gay marriage, which put her at odds with some members of her own party. It is widely considered that pressure from Conservative MPs was a key factor in forcing her resignation this morning.

During her short spell as culture secretary Maria Miller caused controversy by calling for the arts to prove their profitability in order to justify funding.

"Culture cannot be seen in isolation at a time of unprecedented economic challenge," she said in her maiden speech last April. "Everyone has to play a part in our efforts to reduce the deficit, my Department is no exception."

Responding on WhatsOnStage, actor and director Samuel West said: "I know the Secretary of State believes in quality as well as in economic success. She must understand that nobody tries to make art that is unsuccessful."

Last summer Miller responded to rumours the Department of Culture, Media and Sport was to be abolished by criticising the atmosphere of "perpetual gloom" in the arts sector, and promised that the government is "not going to abandon its support for culture".

A spokesman for the Labour party said this morning: "It is welcome that Maria Miller has finally done the right thing. By resigning she has recognised that the public expect and deserve the highest standards from politicians."

Maria Miller's resignation letter in full:

9 April 2014

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 9 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.

Maria Miller