British lawmaker admits fiddling expenses

8th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British former minister faces jail after admitting on Thursday he fraudulently claimed over £30,000 in expenses, the latest development in the country's ongoing parliamentary allowances scandal.

Ex-Labour environment minister Elliot Morley pleaded guilty to dishonestly claiming £30,428 ($49,650, 34,720 euros) days before he was due to go on trial.

Morley, who between 1987 and 2010 represented Scunthorpe in northern England, is the first ex-minister to face a custodial sentence in the scandal which rocked British politics.

The 58-year-old admitted he wrongly filled out 40 forms between 2004 and 2007, in the process claiming thousands of pounds more than any of the other politicians convicted in the saga.

"It's a shame that Morley took so long to make an admission of guilt," Emma Boon, campaign director at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said.

"This change of plea is one more small step towards parliament regaining public trust," Boon added.

Eric Illsley, a former member of the lower house of parliament for the opposition Labour party, was in February handed a 12-month jail term after pleading guilty to dishonestly claiming more than £14,000.

Jim Devine was jailed for 16 months last month after claiming £8,385 while another Labour member, David Chaytor, was imprisoned for 18 months after fiddling £22,000.

Former Conservative lord, John Taylor, is due to be sentenced after falsely claiming £11,000.

Dozens of parliamentarians were caught out in 2009 after The Daily Telegraph newspaper published details of claims, revealing how taxpayers' money was used for lawmakers' widescreen TVs, furnishings and even an ornamental duck house.

© 2011 AFP

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