Another peer convicted of expenses fraud

Another peer, Lord Hanningfield, has been convicted of expenses fraud.

Although the peer maintained he had "done nothing wrong" the jury concluded that in making claims for overnight stays in London when, in fact, he had not stayed in London overnight but had returned home (and by various other incorrect claims) Lord Hanningfield had been dishonest in his expenses claims.

The peer's defence was that the system was one more akin to allowances paid for attendances at the House of Lords by persons living outside London than one of reimbursement of particular expenses actually incurred.  The amounts overclaimed were approaching £14,000.

He will be sentenced in three weeks.

This brings to a conclusion the raft of prosecutions of MPs and peers for expenses fiddles.  In the event all those prosecuted were found guilty.

David

Comments
Donald2000's picture

He didn't think that at all

Donald2000 | | Permalink

I dont think that Lord Hanningfield really thought that the system was similar to allowances at all. He would have been instructed by the Fees Office that if his stay was in London and was overnight then he would be entitled to the overnight allowance; in the event I am sure that there are plenty of Premier Inns who would have accommodated him for £64.00 a night. I know for one that there is one conveniently situated at the end of the Northern Line at Morden and that is within the geographic area of the London Borough of Merton. No, he decided that he knew the rules and that he would take his chauffeur driven limo back to Hanningfield at the expense of the County of Essex. Not only did he do this once but on a number of occasions. One can only therefore conclude that he thought he was above the rules, even though he was consistently in a position to find them out.

Taking the chauffeur driven car back to Essex is not staying in London. Essex is not within the geographic boundary of London. It is out-county. Therefore Hanningfield did not qualify for the overnight stay allowance. To run up a bill of £14,000 he must have done this on approximately 600 occasions. So one can readily see that it was not his debut at this particular form of claiming.

His defence was that other Peers did it; in that case they would be subject to the same kind of discipline that he was. I dont think that defence holds water because I am sure that they would have been found out by now. What we are looking at is a serial and sustained attempt to bilk the public purse. Thats why he was found guilty of the offence with which he was charged. He left court looking shocked. Obviously he needs to get to know his inner self a bit better; then he can catch himself before the greedy Billy Bunter inside him has eaten all the goodies in the tuckshop.

Say goodbye My Lord. Bye bye.

 

 

 

 

raises the point that

The Black Knight | | Permalink

People (not just MP's and lords) do often base or justify their behaviour by benchmarking it with what other people get away with. I believe it is called group norm behaviour.

We now have so many rules and regulations that even the important ones have been downgraded to what are the chances of being caught. (virtually nil in most cases as there are nasty penalties but no enforcement)

Unfortunately this level of criminal activity including tax evasion has become normal behaviour and not even seen as wrong in many quarters.

For many it is a case of where is the harm in over claiming your expenses or using up your sick days entitlement ?

 

 

Donald2000's picture

Where's the harm in it?

Donald2000 | | Permalink

Where's the harm in it; the point is that there is a set level of expenses which can be claimed within the House of Lords. I believe the system used to be £174.00 per day for attendance and an additional £174.00 per evening stay within the London area. That surely could not have been a problem for any member of the House of Lords to comprehend. Instead we get some made up thing of, oh I think I will go home in my chauffeur driven car provided to me by the County of Essex and tell them that I am staying in London. And oh, the others did it.

Aha but the others do not do it. I do voluntary work for a large national charity. Because I claim for certain benefits, I certainly do not take any money in expenses for the voluntary work, nor would I do so. I am happy with what I am getting through a proper and legal claim. Some of us have principles; so if I can have principles at my poverty stricken level, so someone in the House of Lords can have the same principles.

I dont satisfy myself with the thought that the others are doing it; thats a lemming mentality. Just so long as I am not doing it, is what concerns me. All this Peer had to do was to stay at a Premier Inn or Travel-lodge for £59.00 a might in the London area and he even would have made £115 profit to spend on a steak meal. The fact that he could not even do that must mean that really we have some of the most wrong people in both the Commons and the Lords.

 

 

 

group norm behaviour

The Black Knight | | Permalink

I am not trying to justify it, but everyone else (a few exceptions 2?) were at it.

and a large proportion of the population would see nothing wrong in it if they had done the same.

These cases were only prosecuted because they were the larger amounts, a bit like carousel fraud or any other tax fraud, or benefit fraud, all of which have their own resistence levels of what you are allowed to steal.

The system is designed to allow/encourage some of these crimes, and that is what has gone seriously wrong.

The thing that tickles me is when you see that people who are outraged by certain MP's behaviour are quite happy to engage in criminal activity themselves. These MP's were the sacrificial lambs to save the herd.

Had they stolen half those amounts perhaps someone else would be in the Dock.

cymraeg_draig's picture

.

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

The circumstances surely have a bearing.

In law theft is theft - but, in practice some kinds of theft are understandable.

For instance, if I had proof that the chairman of a bank was fiddling his tax to avoid paying £500k tax on his bonuses, I would shop him like a shot.  However, if the unemployed guy down the road was earning an extra £20 a week cleaning neighbours windows whilst drawing benefits, no, I wouldnt shop him because given the pathetic levels of benefits he obviously needs the money.

Both are effectively thieves, both are taking from the treasury, but one I would shop, the other I wouldnt.

 

In the case of MPs / Lords however, another agrivating factor comes into play. These are the same people who lecture us, the public, about what we should do with our money. These are the people who draft draconian laws (like the MLR) to ensure that any "peasant" stepping out of line is financially wiped out for life. In other words - they are hypocrits, and as such, deserve no mercy.

 

 

Donald2000's picture

Freedom to do what one likes because one is an MP

Donald2000 | | Permalink

I think the previous correspondent is right when one considers that the amounts taken have been extremely large; one can hardly call it a mistake. But now other things have been coming out which are also crimes, such as persons asking whether other persons would accept penalty speeding points on their behalf. Its actually perverting the course of justice to state that someone else was driving in order to accept legal liability for having your licence endorsed.

The fact that MPs and Peers think its alright to do any of these things is beyond belief. We are not talking about the odd few quid for cleaning someone's winders whilst on Job Seekers Allowance; we are talking about thousands of pounds lost to the Exchequer and a lot of police time taken up in having to investigate something which should be a straightforward administrative penalty.

These people tend to live in a world of their own; one Peer of recent memory seemed to look baffled when he left the Crown Court having been adjudged guilty. The fact that so many of these sorts of people seem to feel right in their own mind when they did something irregular, unethical or downright immoral absolutely baffles me. Therefore I posit the idea that if such people are caught and prosecuted they should actually be stripped of their rank or position. These people are supposed to set an example within our society, not single handedly set out to destroy it.

 

 

Hoisted by their own Pethard

The Black Knight | | Permalink

and too right, perhaps they should have all been prosecuted on that basis.

but surely a theft is a theft and we need to be fair,

I would agree that circumstances, feeding a sick child for example as opposed to extra beer money should be taken into account, but when should he declare his extra beer money £30 a week £100?

This is the same arguement used for not declaring tips, which like it or not are taxable.

The state is supposed to be a saftey net not a way of life, especially if this £20 has taken business of someone who does work hard all week and pays his own children,rent, rates and income tax to be left with a similar amount of beer money at the end of the week.

ShirleyM's picture

I endorse that!

ShirleyM | | Permalink

These people are supposed to set an example within our society, not single handedly set out to destroy it.

 

 

Posted by Donald2000 on Fri, 27/05/2011 - 13:52

I agree. I now have a very dim view of all politicians. How can we distinguish between those who do have morals and a conscience, and those who don't?

It is as if they are saying it is OK so long as you can get away with it! Their double standards beggar belief!

Who governs the government?

Stephen Morris | | Permalink

 The people who govern us set themselves up as our moral superiors and pass legislation that presumes the electorate is criminal (MLR etc). If government is necessary. for without it chaos would reign, then who governs the government?  

cymraeg_draig's picture

Simple

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

How can we distinguish between those who do have morals and a conscience, and those who don't?

 

Posted by ShirleyM on Fri, 27/05/2011 - 14:20

 

Thats an easy question to answer -

The ones who dont have morals ................ are MPs,

the ones who do have morals ....... dont exist.

ShirleyM's picture

CD :)

ShirleyM | | Permalink

As the saying goes ....

There is many a true word spoken in jest.

Confiscation?

ugdiv | | Permalink

Have any of these bent polititions suffered confiscation proceedings?

Or is that only for the peasants?

 

glenbogle's picture

What about the rest of them?

glenbogle | | Permalink

I'm fuming  because David Laws and all of the others appear to have escaped prosecution. Only seven down

What punishment is seven days refused permission to use the House of Commons facilities? Theft is theft and it is a crime or am I wrong ?

 

cymraeg_draig's picture

.

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

A bit of a biased view. Almost 1970's Arthur Scargill vintage.

There are, of course, class differences and there always will be. But they are now so blurred as to be insignificant.   I was born "working class", I lived on a farm, my father was an engineer, we had no bathroom and the privy was at the bottom of the garden. Not exactly "upper class".

But, through hard work I got to a grammar school - not bad for someone later diagnosed as dyslexic. Again by hard work I got into the army, and they sent me to University. After eventually leaving the army I got a professional qualification, and a few years later I gained a second qualification. What "class" that makes me I really dont know.

I rode horses and I sailed (both considered "upper" class pastimes), I raced motor bikes (considered a "working class" pastime), I played football (another "working class" sport).  I've met several members of the royal family both in the line of duty in the army, and socially since then (definitely an "upper class trait).

The funny thing is, that it's only those who consider themselves lower or working class who go on about "class". Those they seem to consider to be "upper" class never give the subject a thought. It really is a meaningless concept to them.

I have no idea what "class" I belong to, nor do I care, and i really dont think anyone gives it a second thought nowdays (except dinosaur union leaders and left wing labour politicians).

Does it affect how the law treats you?  No. Having money however can buy you the best representation - but having money and being "upper class" have nothing to do with each other.  After all Wayne Rooney has money, and he could hardly be termed upper class.

 

 

ShirleyM's picture

Class?

ShirleyM | | Permalink

The funny thing is, that it's only those who consider themselves lower or working class who go on about "class". Those they seem to consider to be "upper" class never give the subject a thought. It really is a meaningless concept to them.

 

 

Posted by cymraeg_draig on Sun, 29/05/2011 - 23:46

I don't know how we got onto the subject of class, but maybe the reason the 'upper' class don't worry about it is because being upper class doesn't really affect them in a detrimental way. They have access to the 'boys clubs', they have access to the best schools, they get access to the best jobs, they know people who can 'pull strings'. In other words, their class works to their advantage, whereas anyone who is working class, is unlikely to get any of these opportunities.

Yes, CD, you say you have managed all these wonderful things depite your background, but this is the exception rather than the rule, and it isn't always a lack of determination, brainpower, or whatever, that holds people back. I managed to do quite well for myself, despite being born female (before sex discrimination laws came in). Quite often it is purely down to luck, ie. being in the right place at the right time and grabbing the opportunity.

I still think the greatest amount of opportunity revolves around 'who' you know, rather than 'what' you know.

Donald2000's picture

On the subject of class (again)

Donald2000 | | Permalink

I dont want to go into whether or not I succeeded or got qualifications and what class that puts me into. The point that I was making, which seems to have been missed is that these MPs and Peers seem to think that they are quite about the law. I have already mentioned the Peer of the Realm who, having left court, had a puzzled look on his face as if to say, why is this happening to me, me, with all my public service? I am only taking back what I have put in? In other words, droit de seiqneur, I have rights; this is appropriate to me because I have reached this level and it is my right to have this. Other Peers have it; it must be their right. Therefore it is all our rights.

Now compare and contrast this with the way that the red tops go on about benefit cheats as if they are some kind of underclass and that newspaper proprieters are the "higher" class. Thats another example of the hatred and paranoia thats going on here, which is palpably visble in this country. They are picking on an underclass.

Whats happening is a clear indication that there are those in society who dont think they should be prosecuted, who think that because they are in Parliament, or bankers or newspaper owners, that they should be beyond it. That somehow they are the ones who hold dear the public interest and the rest of us are somehow scum. Baying for the blood of benefits cheats whilst hacking into the phones of other people to obtain the dirt on them is not exactly honest. Yet the uber-rich seem somehow to forget all of this.

Finally, if more time were to be spent on finding out who defies paying tax, which is now costing the Exchequer £25 - £125BN per year, instead of running after lolipop ladies who are cohabiting with the milkman, we might be able to make some kind of success in this country. Instead we are hailing it a victory that the poor, the halt and the lame are being called benefits cheats. Dont think so somehow.

 

Jon Stow's picture

As far as I can glean

Jon Stow | | Permalink

Lord Hanningfield has a farming background. He was made a life peer in 1998, so that is no indication of class. His given name is Paul White.

I don't think generally that the Courts are harder on so-called working-class people. They will often punish more those whom they deem should know better.

Donald2000's picture

Punishment by the courts?

Donald2000 | | Permalink

In reply to my honourable friend above, I am not talking about punishment by the courts. I am talking about the hysteria generated by the tabloid newspapers about "benefit cheats" as if somehow the rich and famous dont cheat the system and also how the system is slanted towards those who have money. The problem here is that a lot of people are believing what they read in the Daily GetsMuchWorse. It is almost as if a propaganda war is being conducted against the poor, the halt and the lame. Just as the government keeps on doing the same thing - Lord Freud trotting out what he deems to be "excuses". Yet he would not be saying the same thing about his enobled colleagues.

Whichever way you play it, this is a one way street where the poor get bashed and those who run newspapers (or banks) think they are the chosen ones. This is how Nazism got its start. Soon they will be asking to cleanse the poor out of our system in preference to those whose viewpoints will be the chosen viewpoint. Am I the only person who sees how very dangerous this situation is?

 

glenbogle's picture

Back to the future part IV

glenbogle | | Permalink

In referring to Arthur Scargill   all I can say at this point is that apparently paranoid power crazed left wing activist was right . That is in somuch as the then Conservative government under  M H Thatcher destroyed the coal industry and undermined  the production of goods by british industry for at least thirty years.The deals she did with the EU made it essential to send manufacturing anywhere but this country. However, he was looking for a socialist future and that was never going to work. Besides it was anti- democratic.

It is Ironic that another correspondent decided to interpret my intervention as Class War  based. I was trying to say that any parliamentarian who fails  to adhere to the laws should suffer the full rigour of our legislation. not get a ticking by the rules committte or whatever. My first shorter contribution was about ethics and morality rather than politics.

My frustration is based on the contradictory impression given by such follies as the campaigns agains "benefit cheats" when persons like David Laws MP it appears to me are given a slap across the" image" but are still expected to be back in government before too long. He is after all one of the right sort which in this case is a banker or the nearest equivalent,and he like others is still in parliament representing the people.

However , he was, along with the others, sent there to Parliament, as a law maker  to see that laws are made fairly and do not  hurt the people they are supposed to protect. How can he above the law or allow himself to continue when he has constituted a falsehood to justify his claiming money  from the taxpayer? I am no lawyer but when someone has so clearly held himself above the law as it were  and admitted fault, is he not as  ill favoured as  the  mugger or the rapist or the fly tipper in the eyes of the law? Worthy of investigation and a fair trial with a verdict to given by a jury?

There are many others who could have suffered  penalties who seem to have been able to disappear into the undergrowth. On the other hand so called benefit cheats are usually disadvantaged and desperate before they do something that is not clever , conspiritorial or likely to destroy society but will complete their stigmatisation by an uncaring society and of course  it is a crime so they become criminals by making the false claims. Unlike  the various parliamentarians who had the right to choose their course of action, the benefit  cheat is often in dire  necessity  or crisis when the events commence.

So is it correct that there the apparent principle of rich folks get off by paying the going rate to the lawyers while poor people pay the price by going to jail appears to be supported  by our current political system? Are they afraid that if too many of their sort of people  are put in jeopardy, something might break the apathy of the electorate?

I guess I never will see an honest man in parliament.

 

Donald2000's picture

Glebogle. Too right Sir.

Donald2000 | | Permalink

Glenbogle has nailed the matter and I thank him or her for their excellent posting. Of course those on benefits cannot protect themselves and are open to the same abuses as others have been before them. As I said this is how Nazism got its start by whole groups of people being disenfranchised by another group of people who it was later discovered were quite mentally unbalanced.

One can see this situation arising in minature again in this country. We, the ones who have fought facsism are now beginning to see its ugly rise again, encouraged by newspapers, mentally unstable MPs and most probably you could throw bankers into that mix. All of whom can have private health insurance, benefits, expenses and some of who make the laws that they would so willingly break.

Money laundering regulations? Hahhahhah! Well they should know about money laundering.

 

 

 

weaversmiths's picture

It has already started

weaversmiths | | Permalink

<This is how Nazism got its start. Soon they will be asking to cleanse the poor out of our system in preference to those whose viewpoints will be the chosen viewpoint. Am I the only person who sees how very dangerous this situation is?>

This situation is already with us.  The poor/homeless are already being shipped out of London ready for the Olympics.  Here on the South Coast the Hostels/Homes are bulging at the seams. I was speaking to a young unemployed person who does volunteer work for his father who runs such an Institution.  The rest of the world obviously must not see what a shoddy administration we have.

 

TheAncientOne

 

If you think the UK has it bad...

alistair_king | | Permalink

http://coveringdelta.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/accusations-of-treason-in-...

If there's substance to this then it makes our MPs and Lords' helping themselves at the taxpayer's expense look very unambitious.

On a connected issue, what is the status of negotiations on the latest Greek bailout and what it might cost the taxpayer?
(put fingers in ears and hides under desk waiting for explosion from grenade thrown into forum)

davidwinch's picture

Sentenced to 9 months imprisonment

davidwinch | | Permalink

Lord Hanningfield has today been sentenced to 9 months imprisonment.  This appears to be an immediate custodial sentence (i.e. not a suspended sentence).

I understand that he intends to appeal against his conviction.

My own view is that the sentence is comparatively harsh for a man of his age and previous good character for a fraud involving only £14,000.  I would have been not at all surprised to have seen a suspended sentence in such a case.  A suspended sentence of as little as 3 months (suspended for, say, 12 months) would not ordinarily be remarkable for a fraud of £14,000.

Obviously Lord Hanningfield's position as a member of the House of Lords would be a significant aggravating factor - but there were mitigating factors too.

David

glenbogle's picture

Mercy?

glenbogle | | Permalink

Clearly this has had a great effect on the convicted party. Surely if he expresses remorse and repays the wrongly claimed expenses a suspended sentence or community service would have been sufficient. I understand that he is suicidal  and realises how great is his fault.

No banker has yet been brought to trial for stealing our futures.

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