Police inquiry into MP's expenses

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Indy Politics

The Labour MP Harry Cohen has become the latest MP to be investigated by police over his expenses.

The Metropolitan Police has begun a criminal inquiry into Harry Cohen after he claimed more than £70,000 for a "second home" while renting out his main property, according to reports in The Daily Telegraph.

Today, three other Labour MPs, Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, as well as Lord Hanningfield, a Tory peer, will appear in court after being charged last month with offences under the Theft Act. Eric Illsley, the Labour MP for Barnsley Central, is also being investigated over alleged "phantom" claims for council tax.

Over the past few weeks, the Met police are understood to have approached Commons authorities seeking documents relating to claims made by Mr Cohen on his designated second home in his Wanstead constituency. Mr Cohen is yet to be interviewed by officers, it was reported.

Between 2004 and 2009, Mr Cohen had designated his main home as being in Colchester and his second home in Wanstead. MPs must spend most their time in their main home if they want to claim expenses for another property. However, during part of this period Mr Cohen was renting the Colchester property, while submitting claims for the renovation of his constituency home. The MP defended the claims by saying that his wife had fallen ill and was unable to travel.