ITV presenter Lisa Aziz suspended
ITV West presenter Lisa Aziz has been suspended for allegedly fiddling her expenses.
One of the claims was apparently a £5.75 bill for dry cleaning a child's top.
The 47-year-old presenter has not been seen hosting nightly news programme West Country Tonight for the past month.
ITV will say only that she has been off work for personal reasons.
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But sources close to Ms Aziz say the £150,000-a-year presenter has been suspended over allegations that she made seven wrongful expense claims.
One of these was allegedly for cleaning the child's top. Sources close to Ms Aziz say she later got a statement from the dry cleaners to say the top was hers.
Friends say Ms Aziz has been allowed to claim for dry cleaning as well as hair and beauty products since joining the company in 2005.
They say no claim she had made during almost four years had been refused or even challenged.
It is understood that managers at the station in Bath Road confronted her with the allegations about her expenses during a meeting called to discuss editing a piece on terrorism.
Ms Aziz has been suspended while the accusations of gross misconduct are investigated.
Her place on the nightly news programme, which is broadcast across an area stretching from Gloucestershire to Cornwall, has been taken by two younger presenters, Claire Manning and Ellie Barker.
Ms Aziz is understood to have begun legal action against ITV, although she has refused to comment to the Post.
We have approached her on several occasions in the past three weeks and she said she was away with tendonitis, insisting there was "nothing sinister" about her absence from the programme.
It is alleged that ITV breached its own employment procedures by giving her no proper chance to respond to the claims of expenses fiddling.
Ms Aziz previously worked for Sky News and was the first Asian news presenter on mainstream TV.
A Muslim herself, she had been working for six weeks on a programme about Andrew Ibrahim, the Bristol student on trial for terrorist offences, and was called to a meeting about how the footage was to be edited.
It was apparently during that meeting with head of news Liz Hannam and a man that the expenses allegations were made.
ITV declined to comment when the Post put details of the allegations facing Ms Aziz to the company yesterday.
A spokesman said: "Lisa is currently off work for personal reasons."
Ms Aziz began her television career in Bristol in 1983 at the BBC and then as a reporter and presenter with HTV West.
In 1989, she became the face of TV-am news, replacing Gordon Honeycombe as regular newscaster.
She had worked briefly as a reporter for TV-am after leaving HTV West and then joined Sky News in 1992 to continue fronting their bulletins for TV-am.
The presenter won an EMMA Best Television News Journalist award in 2004.
She remained with Sky until 2005, when she moved to present ITV West's regional news programme from Bristol.
Earlier this year it was merged with ITV West Country, which covered Devon, Cornwall and south Dorset.
The new combined programme covers news items from both regions but includes a segment where localised broadcasts are dedicated to stories from the pre-merger transmission areas.
More than 80 staff lost their jobs in the merger, which was part of a national strategy to scale down ITV's regional news service.
Among them was Jed Pitman, who used to present some editions of The West Tonight with Ms Aziz, as well as sports programmes.