British lord found guilty over expenses

25th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British jury found a member of the House of Lords guilty of fiddling his expenses Tuesday, making him the third parliamentarian to be convicted in a scandal over lawmakers' allowances.

John Taylor, who became the Conservative party's first black peer when he took his seat in the upper house in 1996, was found guilty of falsely claiming for travel and overnight subsistence worth 11,278 pounds (17,800 dollars, 13,000 euros).

The 58-year-old lawyer told parliamentary officials that his main home was in Oxford, northwest of London, but in fact he lived in London.

During the trial, prosecutor Helen Law said: "The prosecution say this case is very simple. Lord Taylor did not have a main home in Oxford and he was not entitled to claim as if he did. He knew that and he claimed anyway."

The property in Oxford was actually the home of his half-nephew Robert Taylor, who told the trial he was "shocked" and "quite angry" when he discovered what his uncle had been doing.

Throughout the trial at Southwark Crown Court in London, Taylor said he was following the advice given to him by fellow peers, that nominating a main residence outside of the capital was a way to earn money "in lieu of salary".

However, the jury found him guilty on six counts covering various claims made between March 2006 and October 2007.

The judge granted a visibly shaken Taylor unconditional bail and said he would be sentenced at a later date.

Taylor was born in central England, the son of Warwickshire and West Indies cricketer Derief Taylor and a nurse, both of them from Jamaica.

He was once tipped as a future cabinet minister but quit Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party when he was charged.

Taylor is the third parliamentarian to be convicted over an expenses scandal that rocked British politics in 2009, but the first to be found guilty after a trial.

Eric Illsley, a 55-year-old member of parliament (MP), is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to three charges of false accounting earlier this month.

And on January 7, ex-Labour MP David Chaytor was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to making false claims.

© 2011 AFP

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