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Four UK politicians to face charges
Lawmakers could face jail terms over alleged abuse of parliamentary expenses.
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2010 14:04 GMT
The expenses scandal touched all three main political parties and sparked public outrage [EPA]

Four British politicians will face criminal charges over alleged abuse of parliamentary expenses, the country's chief prosecutor has said.

Keir Starmer, director of public prosecutions, said on Friday charges of false accounting would be brought against three members of the House of Commons and one member of the House of Lords.

"In four cases, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges and that it is in the public interest to charge the individuals concerned," he said.

Charges of false accounting carry a possible jail term of up to seven years.

Friday's developments are the latest in a scandal over politicians' expenses, that has damaged Britain's ruling Labour and opposition Conservative parties in the run-up to a general election that must take place by June.

'Dishonest claims'

The saga was exposed last year when The Daily Telegraph newspaper published leaked details of thousands of claims, including second homes, horse manure, porn
movies and a mole catcher.

Starmer named the four politicians as Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, who are Labour MPs, and Paul White, known as Lord Hanningfield, a Conservative member of the upper House of Lords.

Morley, a former environment minister, faces two charges of dishonest claims for mortgage expenses.

Chaytor faces three charges of dishonest claims, while Devine faces two charges for making claims based on false invoices.

The BBC reported that the three had issued a joint statement denying the charges and vowing to "defend our position robustly".

White faces six charges, centred on numerous claims for overnight expenses for staying in London when records show he was driven home and did not spend the night in London.

"I totally refute the charges and will vigorously defend myself against them," he said in a statement, adding: "All the claims I have ever made were made in good faith."

The four defendants are scheduled to appear in court on March 11.

Source:
Agencies
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