Peer faces expenses false accounting charges

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Indy Politics

Lord Taylor of Warwick was accused of false accounting today after he was questioned over the parliamentary expenses scandal.

The Tory peer, whose full name is John David Beckett Taylor, has been summonsed to face six charges of false accounting.

He will appear at City of Westminster magistrates' court on Friday August 13, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

The peer is the sixth person to be charged as a result of a Scotland Yard probe into parliamentary expenses.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said Lord Taylor is accused of dishonestly claiming more than £11,000 in overnight subsistence and mileage claims.

He said: "Having thoroughly reviewed the eighth file of evidence we have received from the Metropolitan Police in relation to parliamentary expenses, we concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring criminal charges against Lord Taylor.

"Lord Taylor faces six charges under Section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 for false accounting.

"The first charge alleges that, on or about 31 March 2006, Lord Taylor dishonestly submitted claims for overnight subsistence and car mileage stating that his main place of residence was outside London when he did not reside at the address he had given but actually resided in London.

"The subsequent charges allege that similar claims were made on 3 July 2006, 31 October 2006, 5 April 2007, 2 July 2007 and 31 October 2007.

"In total the charges allege a sum in excess of £11,000 was dishonestly claimed over this period."

Mr Starmer and Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson set up a panel of senior officers and solicitors in May 2009 to consider political expenses cases.

Members of the unit have considered eight files and charged six people - four MPs and two peers - and decided two people should face no further action.

Mr Starmer said: "Lord Taylor now stands charged with criminal offences and has the right to a fair trial.

"It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could prejudice his trial."

Former Labour MPs David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Jim Devine were charged with theft by false accounting earlier this year.

Tory peer and former Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield, also known as Paul White, faces six charges of making dishonest claims for allowances.

The four are waiting for the outcome of an appeal against a ruling that they are not protected from prosecution by parliamentary privilege. A decision is expected later this month.

The fifth politician to face charges is Barnsley Central Labour MP Eric Illsley, who is accused of dishonestly claiming more than £20,000 in expenses for his London home.

In March, Labour peer Lady Uddin was told she will not face prosecution over her expenses for a flat in Kent which was apparently unoccupied for long periods of time.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "It would not be appropriate to comment on any other cases still being considered."

Lord Taylor of Warwick was made the first black Tory peer four years after unsuccessfully fighting the 1992 General Election in Cheltenham.

He has been a practising barrister, an adviser to Cabinet ministers and a television presenter.

Lord Tebbit once predicted he would eventually become a Cabinet minister but others subjected him to racial abuse.

He was born in Birmingham, the son of a professional cricketer and a nurse, both originally from Jamaica. His father played for Warwickshire and the West Indies.

Lord Taylor was called to the bar in 1978, joining the same chambers as Kenneth Clarke, the ex-Tory Chancellor. He later worked as an adviser to Home Office ministers.

A Conservative spokesman said: "Lord Taylor of Warwick has resigned the Conservative Party whip."