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Former UK MP jailed over expenses
David Chaytor sentenced to 18 months in prison after outting in false claims for rent and a mortgage.
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2011 16:36 GMT
The UK expenses scandal has shaken public confidence in the legislature [GALLO/GETTY]

A former legislator in the United Kingdom's parliament has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for his part in the expenses scandal that engulfed the House of Commons in 2009.

David Chaytor, who left parliament last year, was sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty to three charges of false accounting.

Prosecutors said Chaytor deliberately tried to "siphon off" public money that he was not entitled to by providing false documents backing up claims for rent which he had never paid.

The 61-year-old Labour Party MP for Bury North had submitted false bills totaling $28,350. This included a claim for $20,000 for a mortgage he had already paid off.

Chaytor would have been the first MP to stand trial over the expenses, but he avoided court after changing his plea to guilty.

'Stupidity and wrongdoing'

Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher, reporting from London, said Chaytor's defence had tried to convince the court that there should be a reduction in the sentence following the former MP's guilty plea.

"They were saying that this really was a mistake on his part; he could have claimed these expenses in the normal way but really just got caught up with a mixture of stupidity and wrong-doing," he said.

However in pleading guilty, Mr Justice Saunders, the judge, said Chaytor had accepted that his conduct was dishonest.

"These offences have a wider and more important consequence than is to be found in other breach of trust cases; that is, the effect they have had and will have on the confidence the public has in politicians," Justice Saunders said.

"The public are entitled to expect the people who legislate for the public will themselves be honest in their dealings with the state and in particular in their use of public funds.

"The whole expenses scandal has shaken public confidence in our legislature; it has angered the public."

The disclosure of previously secret expense documents began in 2009, exposing UK politicians who were billing the public for items including second homes, lawnmower repairs, dog food, and pornographic movies.

A total of 392 current and former politicians were ordered to repay $1.8 million.

Five other current or former MPs face trials in the coming months; they have all submitted not guilty pleas.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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