Three former Labour MPs face criminal trial over expenses

The Supreme Court has ruled this morning that three former Labour MPs should face criminal trials over their expenses claims.

Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, charged with theft by false accounting, had previously argued at the Court of Appeal that only Parliament could hear their case.

The three have now exhausted their challenge to an original ruling which rejected their claims to Parliamentary privilege, a 300-year-old immunity from legal proceedings arising from actions within Parliament; however the judge ruled in June that individual expense claims are “not covered by parliamentary privilege and… triable in Crown Court”.

From the BBC:

Former Bury North MP Mr Chaytor, 61, of Todmorden, West Yorkshire; former Scunthorpe MP Mr Morley, 58, of Winterton, north Lincolnshire; and former Livingston MP Devine, 57, of Bathgate, West Lothian, are all on unconditional bail and face separate trials.

All were barred by their party from standing again as Labour MPs at the general election.

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  • Liberal Neil 10th Nov '10 - 11:13am

    It is certainly good news that this ruling has been made and that MPs will be held accountable under the law on these issues.

  • Grammar Police 10th Nov '10 - 11:21am

    @ Matt, I agree that we should see those MPs that broke the law brought to trial (I would point out that there is a distinction between breaches of parliamentary rules and breaking the law). I’m sure the CPS has this in mind, and will bring those MPs they suspect of breaking the law to trial.

  • I do find it distressing that MPs from Chaytor to Woolas think that the normal judicial process is somehow anti-democratic.

    If you commit a crime, you should face normal process. No matter who you are.

  • I agree with Helen.

  • Andrew Suffield 10th Nov '10 - 9:33pm

    Liberal Democrat MP, David Law, who needs to have the whipp removed and put before the courts for falsely claiming rent on properties owned by his partner, which he freely admits to doing knowing he was breaking parliamentary rules.

    He claimed exactly the amount he was entitled to anyway. The only thing he did wrong was to check the box for “renting” rather than “shared with partner”. Either way the amount he can claim as parliamentary expenses is the same. Minor errors in paperwork with no financial impact are not a crime!

  • Matt,

    “It is against parliamentary rules to claim 2nd home allowances for accommodation that is owned by your partner. To knowing do so, is false accounting.”

    Let’s knock this one on the head once and for all, shall we? The term “partner” within the meaning of the rules is ambiguous. Where there is an ambiguity, that ambiguity is interpreted in the defendant’s favour if the impugned actions would otherwise attract criminal liability. David Laws is as much entitled to due process as anyone else.

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