Former Tory peer jailed for nine months

A disgraced former Tory peer was jailed for nine months yesterday for fiddling his parliamentary expenses.

Lord Hanningfield, 70, falsely claimed 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.

In May he was found guilty of six counts of false accounting at Chelmsford Crown Court and yesterday he was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court. Lord Hanningfield joins four ex-MPs and a fellow member of the Lords convicted of dishonestly obtaining thousands of pounds from the taxpayer by making false claims for allowances. Lord Hanningfield has lodged an appeal.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Saunders said he would now be partly remembered as a "benefits cheat". He said: "While there were ambiguities in the peers' expenses schemes which have resulted in its revision, it was clear from the terms of the scheme, as well as according with common sense, that a peer could not claim an overnight allowance to cover the expense of staying the night in London when he did not stay in London but went home.

"It was perfectly clear from the terms of the scheme, as well as according with common sense, that a peer could not claim for travelling expenses that he did not incur."

The judge said that Lord Hanningfield was not paid for the work he carried out in the House of Lords, but he refused to believe the extent to which he claimed he was out of pocket.

Lord Hanningfield, a former opposition frontbencher in the Lords and leader of Essex County Council, claimed £13,379 in parliamentary expenses for overnight stays in London when he was not in the capital.

The peer, a former pig farmer from West Hanningfield, near Chelmsford, also fraudulently claimed £382 in train fares and £147 in mileage by doubling the seven-mile distance from his house to the railway station.

The shamed peer insisted his parliamentary duties left him thousands of pounds out of pocket and said he "averaged out" his claims to recoup some of the money he spent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?