Four UK lawmakers face charges over expenses

Last Updated: Friday, February 5, 2010 - 20:58

London: British prosecutors announced criminal charges on Friday against four lawmakers over alleged abuse of parliamentary expenses, a dramatic twist in a scandal that has rocked politics in this country.
Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions (DPP), said charges of false accounting would be brought against three members of the elected House of Commons (MPs) and one member of the unelected upper House of Lords.

"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," he said.

"Accordingly, summonses in these cases have been obtained from the City of Westminster Magistrates? Court and will now be served on the individuals in question."

The three MPs are from the ruling Labour Party, while the House of Lords member is a member of the main opposition Conservative Party.

Former minister Elliot Morley MP faces two charges alleging that he dishonestly claimed mortgage expenses, including claiming 16,000 pounds (25,000 dollars, 18,000 euros) for a mortgage that no longer existed.

His fellow MP David Chaytor faces three charges, including on allegations that he used false invoices to claim for IT services and that he claimed almost 13,000 pounds in rent for a London property that he in fact owned.

The third MP to be named was Jim Devine, who faces two charges. He is accused of claiming thousands of pounds worth of cleaning services and stationery using false invoices.

Paul White -- known as Lord Hanningfield -- faces six charges over allegations that he claimed expenses "to which he knew he was not entitled" including for staying overnight in London when records show he was actually driven home.

No charges were brought against a second member of the House of Lords who had also been under investigation, Starmer said, adding that a sixth case was still under consideration.

The announcement of charges came a day after an investigation concluded that British lawmakers were ordered to repay more than one million pounds in expenses, and slammed the "deeply flawed" system.

The long-awaited audit by former civil servant Thomas Legg said lawmakers must return 1.1 million pounds (1.3 million euros, 1.8 million dollars) in payments received for loans on second homes, gardening and cleaning expenses.

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First Published: Friday, February 5, 2010 - 20:58

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