Friday, 7 January 2011

Thieving conman and former Labour MP David Chaytor has been jailed

Former Labour MP David Chaytor has been jailed for 18 months for making false Parliamentary expenses claims.
Chaytor, 61, became the first politician to be convicted and sentenced over the expenses scandal which has rocked Westminster.

He submitted bogus invoices to support claims totalling £22,650 for IT services and renting homes in London and his Bury North constituency.
But the properties were owned by him and his mother, and he did not pay out any of his own money, Southwark Crown Court in London heard.

Chaytor, of Lumbutts, Todmorden, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty last month to three counts of false accounting between November 2005 and January 2008.
The former MP is now facing a large legal bill for both his defence and the costs of bringing the prosecution against him.

Sentencing Chaytor, Mr Justice Saunders said the Parliamentary expenses scandal has "shaken public confidence in the legislature and angered the public".

Chaytor made the false claims in order to "siphon off" public money to which he was not entitled, the court heard. But he has now repaid £19,237, more than the £18,350 he received from the House of Commons fees office based on his fraudulent claims.

Chaytor submitted claims totalling £15,275 and was paid £12,925 for renting Flat 152, Hide Tower in Regency Street, Westminster, central London. But it turned out that he and his wife had bought the property in 1999, two years after he was first elected to Parliament, and paid off the mortgage on it in 2003.
In mitigation, James Sturman QC said Chaytor was a "broken man" who had already paid a "quite devastating price" for his actions.

He said: "He accepts he has brought shame on himself, he has brought shame on his family and he has brought shame on Parliament."
A Labour Party spokesman said: "David Chaytor had already been suspended from the Labour Party and following his custodial sentence he has now been excluded from the party."

Chaytor gave no reaction as he was sentenced. Court sources told the Press Association that the former MP would be taken to Wandsworth prison in south-west London to spend his first night in custody.

During submissions today, James Sturman QC had pleaded for any prison sentence to be suspended and a community punishment imposed.
He said Chaytor, a former university lecturer, faced further public humiliation if ordered to pick up litter or similar work because he would be photographed.

"We submit that the sums he received, if he had gone about it transparently, honestly and frankly, he would have been entitled to every penny, if not more than he claimed," Sturman said.
"The fact that he would have been entitled to claim for a second property has been somewhat lost in the clamour and hysteria surrounding the case."

He added that Chaytor had pleaded guilty out of "deep and genuine remorse".
But Peter Wright QC, for the prosecution, said the fact that Chaytor submitted false invoices proved that he knew he was breaking the rules.
"We say Mr Chaytor knew the rules, and we say why else would he produce false documents in support of his claims otherwise?" he told the court.

"It is maintained by the defence that his purpose in creating those documents was in fact to short-circuit the route by which expenses could be claimed. We, on behalf of the crown, do not accept that."
Chaytor had claimed £12,925 between 2005 and 2006 for renting a flat in Regency Street, Westminster, producing a tenancy agreement purporting to show that he was paying £1,175 a month in rent to the landlord, Sarah Elizabeth Rastrick.

But she was his daughter – although her name was disguised by using her middle name as a surname – and the flat was owned by Chaytor and his wife, who had already paid off the mortgage.
Chaytor also claimed £5,425 between 2007 and 2008 for renting a home in Castle Street, Bury, which was owned by his mother.

He produced a tenancy agreement falsely showing he was paying £775 a month. House of Commons rules do not allow MPs to claim for leasing a property from a family member.
A third charge related to two invoices of £995 each for IT support services in May 2006 when the "services had not been provided or charged for". The court heard that money was never paid to him.

Chaytor, along with the former Labour MPs Elliot Morley, 58, who represented Scunthorpe, and 57-year-old Jim Devine, formerly the MP for Livingston, tried to avoid prosecution for their crimes by claiming that criminal proceedings would infringe parliamentary privilege.

Although he has been given an 18 month term, with good behaviour he could be released by summer!  This means he could be serving 6 months at the most, so an 18 month sentence becomes 6 months max!

Morley and Devine face separate trials at a future date.

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