Shamed peer jailed for expenses fraud

A SHAMED Tory peer was last night starting a nine-month prison sentence after being found guilty of fiddling his Parliamentary expenses.

Lord Hanningfield falsely claimed for nearly £14,000 for overnight stays in London when he was not in the capital.

His expenses fiddling included one occasion in February 2008 when he was actually on board a flight to India.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The peer, who was convicted of six counts of false accounting in May, showed no emotion as he was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court. He immediately lodged an appeal against the conviction.

The 70-year-old, born Paul White, now faces an investigation by Parliamentary authorities into his expenses claims, which was launched following his conviction in May. But Commissioner for Standards Paul Kernaghan yesterday said he would suspend his inquiry until after the appeal was concluded.

A House of Lords spokesman said: “The Commissioner for Standards, with the agreement of the Sub-Committee on Lords’ Conduct, has decided to initiate an investigation into the conduct of Lord Hanningfield in relation to his use of the Members’ Reimbursement Scheme.

“In light of the fact that Lord Hanningfield has given notice of his intention to appeal, the matter is still sub judice and the Commissioner’s investigation will commence once the judicial process is complete.”

Lord Hanningfield could be freed after serving less than three months of his sentence under early release rules for non-violent prisoners who pose a low risk.

He is the final politician charged in relation to their expenses to be jailed, but more prosecutions could be in the pipeline. Four former Labour MPs – David Chaytor, Eric Illsley, Jim Devine and Elliot Morley – have received prison terms for fiddling their Parliamentary expenses, along with Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick.