In which English institution could an expenses fraud go to prison, come back to his old job, and then claim expenses again? (Clue: picture)

Our diarist on Paul White, a remarkable Tory from Essex


There is only one workplace in the United Kingdom where someone can be caught making fraudulent expenses claims, go to prison, then return to the old place of work to carry on claiming. I refer, of course, to the House of Lords.

The latest list of Lords expenses published this morning, covering June 2012, shows that Lord Hanningfield, aka Paul White, former Tory leader of Essex County Council, trousered £3,600 in attendance allowances in that month alone – that is £300 a day for turning up on 12 separate days – plus £285 travel expenses. That makes £8,481 that he has received in just three months for returning to the scene of his crime. Hanningfield served nine weeks of a nine-month prison sentence last year after being convicted of claiming £14,000 worth of fraudulent expenses.

In June, another former expenses cheat dipped his fingers into the same jar. Lord Taylor of Warwick had served three months of a 12-month prison sentence for cheating the taxpayer out of £11,000 by lying about where he lived. After his release, he insouciantly told The Daily Telegraph that he was looking forward to returning to the House of Lords, whereupon one of his former colleagues in the Tory party, the newly ennobled Michael Dobbs, pleaded with the Lords authorities to tell him that he was not welcome. But he is back, and in June he claimed £2,100 in attendance allowances.

Their fate is in stark contrast to that of the MPs convicted of fiddling their expenses, all of whom are out of Parliament permanently and facing personal ruin.

The former Labour peer Pola Uddin was never prosecuted, but was told by the House of Lords Privileges committee to repay £125,349 worth of dodgy expenses. Labour peers were hoping she would not have the gall to show her face again – but she has, and has started claiming attendance allowance.  In June, she claimed £1,800.

All of this would be impossible if Parliament passed a simple piece of legislation put forward by the former Liberal leader David Steel, which would give it the power to expel miscreants such as these. The idea has support in every political party, but Nick Clegg has blocked it because he fears that small reforms will weaken the case for abolishing the Lords and creating an elected chamber.

Ta for the free lunch, much appreciated

Liz Kendall, Labour’s shadow minister for the elderly, has been given a trying time by someone who shares the same office corridor in the Commons. An angry Ms Kendall posted a note on the communal fridge, saying “Someone has stolen my lunch from this fridge. I do not appreciate this.” Underneath her note there appeared another, unsigned, announcing: “I took it and I’d do it again.” Under that is a third note, which appeared yesterday saying: “You Are a Very Sick Individual.”

Parable of the bishop and the bank boss

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury-to-be, was on form when questioning  Stephen Hester, boss of the taxpayer-owned RBS, during his appearance before the banking commission. Upbraiding the banker for having nothing to say about the bank’s wider social responsibility, Bishop Welby demanded: “What is the duty of an enormous bank like yours… well into the hundreds of billions of pounds, what is your duty to society and why didn’t you mention it?”

Mr Hester replied that the bank does its duty by providing savings accounts, paying taxes and employing people responsibly.

“That again is motherhood and apple pie. I am looking for a bit more penetrating analysis of what your duty is to society,” huffed the bishop. Is it possible that this is a cleric who actually believes that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn