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Four UK lawmakers face criminal charges in the expenses scandal

Video by Rebecca BOWRING , Stephen Clarke

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-02-06

Three Labour members of Parliament and one Conservative member of the House of Lords are to face criminal charges over their expenses claims, in a new twist in the scandal that has rocked British politics.

Criminal charges of false accounting have been levelled against four British lawmakers over their parliamentary expenses.

Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, from Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour party, are members of the lower House of Commons, and Paul White, known as Lord Hanningfield, a Conservative member of the upper House of Lords.

The criminal charges stem from a wider scandal last year over MPs and members of the House of Lords abusing the expense system to claim for items ranging from toilet paper to moat cleaning. The ensuing uproar dominated newspaper headlines for weeks.

Public outrage was vocal and widespread, ending several political careers. Neither was the scandal restricted to one political party, affecting Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democratic Parties.

"In four cases, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges and that it is in the public interest to charge the individuals concerned," UK Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said in a televised statement.

The four men, who all deny the charges, face a maximum sentence of seven years in jail. They are scheduled to appear in court on March 11.

The Labour Party has barred the three MPs from standing in the forthcoming general elections.

The Conservatives said White had resigned as the party's shadow transport minister in the Lords and would be suspended as a member of the party's group in the upper chamber.

 
Elliot Morley
Photo: Steve Punter
Elliot Morley
is a Labour MP for Scunthorpe in north east England. Morley is charged with two counts of false accounting.
 
The two charges relate to allegedly dishonest claims for mortgage expenses of £14,428 between April 2004 and February 2006, and £16,000 between March 2006 and November 2007, when he no longer had a mortgage on the property.
 
 
David Chaytor
Photo: AFP
David Chaytor
is a Labour MP for Bury North, also in the north east of England. He is charged with three separate counts of false accounting.
 
The first relates to a May 2006 claim for £1,950 for IT services for which it is alleged he used false invoices, the second that he claimed £12,925 for renting a house in London for one year from September 2006 that he actually owned.
 
The third charge is that he dishonestly claimed £5,425 for renting a house, between September 2007 and January 2008, that belonged to his mother.
 
Jim Devine
Photo: jimdevine. org.uk
Jim Devine
is a Labour MP for Livingston in central Scotland. Devine is accused of using false invoices to claim for cleaning services totalling £3,240 between July 2008 and April 2009. He is also charged with using false invoices to claim for £5,505 for stationary in March 2009.
 
 
 
Lord Hanningfield
Photo: lordhanningfield. essexcc.gov.uk
Paul White, known as Lord Hanningfield
is a Conservative life peer and shadow transport minister. Hanningfield is accused of six cases of false accounting from March 2006 to May 2009, including expense claims for staying in London overnight when records show he was in fact driven to his home in Essex, south east England where is the head of the county council.

 

Date created : 2010-02-05

  • BRITAIN

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