Friday, December 3, 2010

Former Labour MP David Chaytor pleads guilty to £18,000 expenses fraud at Court; he faces the possibility of several years in prison, multiple fraud

Dear All

Westminster expenses scandal has claimed a serious scalp and is a wake up call for serving MPs.

Former Labour MP David Chaytor today admitted fraudulently claiming Parliamentary expenses.

This means he has the shame to be the first politician to get a criminal conviction in connection with the expenses scandal.

He has decided to plead guilty at the Old Bailey to three charges of false accounting which runs to £18,000.

Guilty pleas usually mean an automatic reduction in sentence and given the amount, running into thousands he might be looking at prison.

Party politics aside, it is a shame that anyone in public life should break the public trust in this way, being an elected politician is a privilege because it affords people the chance to make the lives of others better. Everyone who enters public life gets a clean sheet of paper by the public; they ask one thing, don’t bolt your copy book.

Chaytor, 61, had previously tried to get the matter referred back to the House of Commons using the Bill of Rights of 1689, this was quite rightly rejected. The Bill of Rights 1689 was written in good faith and as such they didn’t legalise criminality among elected politicians.

Chaytor had previously denied the charges and was due to stand trial at London's Southwark Crown Court on Monday.

A former lecturer, he was MP for Bury North, a seat he had held since 1997, at the time, he apologised "unreservedly" for what he called an "unforgivable error in my accounting procedures".

But it was an error; it was multiple frauds of taxpayer funds.

Does he deserve jail?

That is up to the Judge but he could face a maximum of seven years in jail, if the Judge is so minded but his guilty early plea means a lesser sentence.

The total amount defraud by Chaytor is £18,350, serious money.

His claims were £12,925 between 2005 and 2006 for renting a flat in Regency Street, near Westminster, which it turned out he owned the lease to.

To that end he produced a tenancy agreement falsely showing he was paying £1,175 a month rent.

And he falsely claimed between 2007 and 2008 £5,425 for renting a home in Castle Street, Bury, which was owned by his mother.

A false tenancy agreement showing he was paying £775 a month there. You can’t claim rent for living with a family member under the rules.

A third charge related to falsely charging £1,950 for IT support services in May 2006, he supplied two invoices from a man named Paul France for his professional services "when in fact the services had not been provided or charged for".

It is said that all political careers end in failure but to end in disgrace and possibly prison is a sad end.

David Chaytor had it all but for some reason greed got the better of him; he bought into the culture in Westminster which saw expenses as a second salary.

He will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on January 7.

Elliot Morley and Jim Devine, two other ex Labour MPs accused of expenses fraud still have cases pending.

And I imagine they will be looking with interest to what sentence is passed on David Chaytor.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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