A friend of former Merton Conservative Maria Miller has said she is a victim of the system and did nothing wrong in the expenses scandal.

Councillor David Williams knew the former culture secretary when she stood for Wimbledon’s Trinity ward in 2002, where she lost by one vote to Labour’s Andrew Coles.

For a short while Mrs Miller was the Merton Conservatives chairman before she left to concentrate on her Basingstoke constituency as MP.

She resigned from her post as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport yesterday after a week of intense media scrutiny following a standards committee report.

She apologised to the House of Commons last week after a parliamentary watchdog told her to pay back interest she saved by using public money to pay for a house in Woodside, Wimbledon, designated as her London home.

Wimbledon Guardian:

Councillor David Williams: 'Maria Miller is a victim of the system'

Coun Williams, former Merton Council leader, said: "I have a great deal of time for her.

"She is a very decent and nice person.

"It is extremely unfortunate for her personally she has been caught up in this but I think in a way she is a victim of the system more than a victim of herself.

"Parliament needs to look carefully at how it continues to police itself."

The pair still exchange Christmas cards but have not seen each other in a while.

The Wimbledon home at the centre of the row was sold a few months ago.

Mrs Miller was ordered to repay £5,800 in overclaimed mortgage interest and say sorry on the floor of the House - an apology which has been widely criticised for its tone and brevity.

Mrs Miller resigned in a letter to David Cameron, to which he replied he was sorry to receive it but accepted the resignation.

The letter from Mrs Miller to Mr Cameron said: "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."

As part of Mr Cameron’s reply it said he was personally grateful for her support, and he hoped she could return to the frontbench in due course.