Suspended sentence for Boris Johnson's ex-deputy

Chris Greenwood,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:25

A former deputy of the London mayor Boris Johnson was handed a suspended jail sentence of 12 weeks today for misusing his expenses.

Ian Clement, 44, admitted using his City Hall corporate credit card to buy lunches for himself and his lover.

He spent £156.70 over three occasions at which he claimed to have met leaders of London Tory councils, City of Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

District Judge Quentin Purdy told Clement his crime "clearly crossed the custody threshold" and jailed him for 12 weeks, suspended for 18 months.

He ordered the defendant to undertake 100 hours of unpaid community work and to follow a curfew of between 9pm and 6am for 12 weeks.

Clement was also ordered to pay £1,000 in prosecution costs and the court heard he had repaid the fraudulent expenses.

Sentencing Clement the judge said he "fragrantly and arrogantly" abused public money to indulge himself with meals.

He told the former deputy mayor the offences had "cost you dear and will haunt you for some years to come".

The judge added: "You must have known full well when questioned in relation to these matters of the manifest bogusness of the claims you were making.

"That said, I accept you have lost much as a direct result of your wrongdoing.

"You knew very well what was required when using a corporate credit card and you saw yourself as somehow above the rules."

The judge paid tribute to the "diligence" of the press for exposing the abuse and said the public had a right to know how their money is spent.

Clement resigned from his £127,000-a-year post at the Greater London Authority as Mr Johnson's deputy mayor for external relations in June.

The former Bexley Council leader, of Crayford, Kent, was at the centre of a police inquiry after officials raised concerns about his expenses.

He first appeared in court charged with five offences under the Fraud Act last month.

Clement admitted three offences between November 20 and 28 last year. The two remaining offences were withdrawn.

The first lunch took place on October 31 last year when Clement claimed to meet Enfield's council leader Michael Rye at Pizza Express in Barnet.

The court heard he later filed an expense claim for £32.50 but had really had lunch with his lover Claire Dowson.

The second lunch took place on November 5 when Clement claimed he met Barnet Council leader Mike Freer at the Blue Olive in Barnet.

Clement later filed a claim for £72.50 but police discovered he had again had lunch with Miss Dowson.

The third lunch took place the next day when Clement claimed to meet Kensington and Chelsea Council leader Merrick Cockell.

He later filed a claim for £51.70 for lunch at the New Mayflower Chinese restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue.

Investigators discovered he had enjoyed lunch with a female public relations executive and none of the three senior Tory politicians were ever present.

In mitigation, Jim Sturman QC pleaded for Clement to be spared a prison sentence.

He said his client was a "fool" to have thrown away his job, career and self-respect.

The barrister said Clement needed the opportunity to "get his life together at liberty" after losing his job and hundreds of friends.

Mr Sturman said: "He was, of course, a significant public figure. He was not an elected figure - a deputy mayor position is not elected - but he was a significant figure and the case has attracted considerable public interest.

"This is not a case where a politician has massively enriched himself as a result of longstanding abuse of the system.

"He is a 44-year-old man who has made some extremely stupid choices for which he blames himself and takes responsibility.

"The phrase I use is his phrase: 'I have provided the shells which have sunk me'."

The barrister added that the press have "lampooned and lambasted" his client, causing him "considerable anxiety".

Clement is struggling to pay his mortgage, has little money and cannot find work, the court heard.

Speaking outside court flanked by his legal team, Clement apologised for his actions.

He said: "I have failed to live up to the high standards of office that were properly expected of me.

"I have given many years of dedicated public service to London, which has been my pride, my passion and my life. That is now over.

"There is no denial in regard to my responsibility.

"I very much regret and indeed am truly sorry for my actions. These have let down many good people - my family, my friends and colleagues including, and not least, the mayor of London."