Former Tory peer jailed for expenses fraud

Lord Taylor, once one of the most promising Tory politicians of his generation, was jailed for a year yesterday for defrauding the taxpayer of more than £11,000.

He was convicted by a jury in January, but the judge delayed passing sentence until the end of the trial of Lord Hanningfield, another expenses fiddling, and formerly Conservative, peer.

John Taylor was the first black politician selected to contest a winnable Commons seat for the Conservatives. Later, he was the first black Tory peer, and the youngest Tory peer. Now he has another two "firsts" to his career. He is the first Conservative and the first member of the House of Lords jailed during the expenses scandal.

But, unlike the four Labour MPs imprisoned for their parts in the scandal, Taylor need not necessarily feel that his political career is over. An anachronism in the British constitution says that a life peer is a life peer, no matter what. He will continue to be Lord Taylor of Warwick while he is in prison, and will be entitled to resume his seat in the Lords when he is released in a few months. If he had been an MP, he would have been automatically expelled from the Commons.

Taylor had denied fraud, claiming that he had been told by a fellow peer that he was entitled to claim travel costs and an overnight allowance despite living in London. But the jury at Southwark Crown Court decided that he knew from the start that he was committing fraud. He had told the House of Lords that he lived in Oxford, at an address he had visited only twice and where he had never stayed overnight. It was the home of his nephew, Robert Taylor.

Passing sentence yesterday, Mr Justice Saunders said: "Lord Taylor did not tell Robert Taylor what he was doing but did ask him whether he could have correspondence sent there. He told Robert Taylor that he was concerned that his wife might intercept correspondence which went to his home address. That was untrue. The real reason was that Lord Taylor feared that if correspondence was sent there by the House of Lords it might be returned and the fact that Lord Taylor did not live there would be discovered."

Taylor had an outstanding professional and political career until the fraud was exposed. The son of a professional cricketer, Derief Taylor, who played briefly for Warwickshire, John Taylor was head boy at his local grammar school, and qualified as a barrister in 1978, aged 26.

In 1990, the Home Secretary, Kenneth Baker, hired him as a special adviser, and he was adopted as the Tory candidate for Cheltenham, then a Conservative-held seat. The selection of a black man, with the direct intervention of Conservative Central Office, created a scandal locally. One man was expelled from the Conservative Association for using racist language to describe Mr Taylor. In the 1992 election, Cheltenham was taken by the Liberal Democrats.

A disappointed Taylor was made a life peer by John Major in 1996. An evangelical Christian, he set up the Warwick Leadership Foundation to teach leadership skills to young people from disadvantaged communities. "He has been a role model to many," Mr Justice Saunders said.

In December 2009, as the expenses scandal was threatening to engulf him, Taylor married for the second time. The official photographer at his lavish wedding was his nephew, Robert, who would be giving evidence against him a year later.

After their honeymoon, Taylor followed his new wife, Yvonne Louise, to her home in Florida, but within a month she had thrown him out, and sought an annulment. "He is an incredible actor, the best liar... Everything he does is for money," she said in an interview later.

The website of the Warwick Leadership Foundation was still online yesterday, its home page adorned by a picture of Taylor, dressed in ermine. At the bottom of the page was the quotation: "The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it." Unfortunately for Taylor, he didn't.

Other members of Parliament charged over expenses

David Chaytor, Labour, MP for Bury North, 1997-2010

Pleaded guilty on 7 January. Scale of fraud: £18,350. Sentence: 18 months. Released on 26 May.

Lord Taylor of Warwick, Conservative, life peer since 1996

Convicted on 25 January. Scale of fraud: £11,278. Sentenced 31 May: one year.

Jim Devine, Labour, MP for Livingston, 2005-10

Convicted on 31 March. Scale of fraud: £8,385. Sentence: 16 months.

Eric Illsley, Labour, MP for Barnsley Central, 1987-2011

Pleaded guilty on 10 February. Scale of fraud: £14,000. Sentence: one year. Released on 13 May.

Elliot Morley, Labour, MP for Scunthorpe, 1987-2010

Pleaded guilty on 7 April. Scale of fraud: £32,000. Sentenced 20 May: 16 months.

Lord Hanningfield, Conservative, life peer since 1998

Convicted on 26 May. Scale of fraud: £13,808. Awaiting sentence.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments