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ITV presenter Lisa Aziz has been suspended for allegedly fiddling her expenses.

Ms Aziz, the first Asian news presenter to appear on mainstream TV, has not appeared on her regional nightly news programme for a month.

ITV claim the £150,000-a-year presenter is off work for “personal reasons”, but sources close to Ms Aziz say she has been suspended over expenses allegations.

It is alleged she faces accusations of gross misconduct after making seven wrongful claims, including a £5.75 bill for dry cleaning a child’s top.

Ms Aziz, 47, who has two children, is believed to have begun legal action against ITV but has refused to comment on this.

She said her failure to appear on the news programme West Country Tonight was because she was ill with tendonitis and said there was “nothing sinister” about her absence.

She said: “I am off with tendonitis for the foreseeable future, I’m afraid. I had it back in March for a couple of weeks and was surprised I needed to take time off work with it and it has come back.

“Obviously, the office is concerned and it’s all very sad because I love my job and being on air ... it’s nothing sinister I am afraid, it’s quite boring. It’s just unfortunate and one of those things.”

Ms Aziz, who normally shares the West Country Tonight couch with presenter Steve Scott, has been replaced after she disappeared in mid-June.

Friends of the presenter say she was confronted by ITV head of news Liz Hannam during a meeting.

It is understood she was then suspended from her post over allegations of gross misconduct while seven expenses claims were investigated. However, it is alleged that ITV breached its own employment procedures by suspending Ms Aziz before she had a chance to respond to the allegations.

The presenter, who is understood to be a “family friend” of Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, is now believed to have begun legal action against ITV.

An ITV spokesman yesterday refused to confirm or deny that she has been suspended over expense claim allegations.

He said: “ITV never comment on ongoing investigations and follow established and recognised employment procedures.”

Sources say she has claimed for dry cleaning and hair and beauty products on expenses without challenge since joining ITV in 2006.

Ms Aziz began her career in Bristol in 1983 at the BBC before becoming one of the main presenters for Sky News in 1996. continues here

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