Former MPs on trial over 'false claims on expenses'

Elliott Morley, a former environment minister, faces trial today in the first criminal case arising from MPs' expenses. It is thought to be the first time for several centuries that an MP has faced a criminal trial over his dealings with Parliament. Two other former Labour MPs, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, also faces charges. All three deny theft by false accounting.

This month, the Supreme Court dismissed a claim by the three that they are protected by parliamentary privilege and cannot be tried in a criminal court. Mr Morley, 58, MP for Scunthorpe from 1987 to 2005, faces three charges of claiming for a mortgage that had already been paid. Mr Chaytor, 61, a former MP for Bury North, is charged with using false invoices, as is Mr Devine, a former MP for Livingstone.

A Conservative peer, Lord Hanningfield, is also to appear on six charges relating to travel expenses. All four will be tried separately. Eric Illsley, who was re-elected Labour MP for Barnsley Central in May, and Tory peer Lord Taylor also face charges over expenses.

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