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Jurors warned over peer's expenses trial

A judge has warned jurors about to hear the case of a former Tory peer accused of fiddling his parliamentary expenses to try the case only on the evidence.

Lord Taylor of Warwick is going on trial facing six counts of false accounting.

Mr Justice Saunders told the jury at Southwark Crown Court today: "The case you are about to try has attracted a considerable amount of publicity and is likely to attract more."

He said Lord Taylor was a member of the House of Lords and the prosecution alleges that he made a number of false claims.

"It will be for you to determine whether the prosecution have proved the defendant's guilt."

He said it was "vital" the jury ignored anything they read or heard outside the courtroom.

"That includes anything that relates not just to Lord Taylor, but anything reported in the press about the expenses investigation as a whole."

He went on: "This is a case on which almost everyone will have a view they wish to express.

"Do not announce on Facebook or Twitter that you are on this jury, as you will simply invite comment, and do not reveal your impression of the case."

He also warned them not to seek further information on the case on the internet.

"To deliberately disobey the directions of a judge would amount to a contempt of court. This is punishable by imprisonment or a fine."

The case against Lord Taylor, 58, is expected to open later today or tomorrow.