Fifth British lawmaker charged over expenses claims
British prosecutors are to charge another Labour lawmaker over his expenses claims, the fifth parliamentarian to be charged after a scandal last year, they said Wednesday.
In an embarrassing move a day after parliament reconvened after May 6 elections, Eric Illsley was summoned to appear in court on June 17 to face three charges of false accounting between May 2005 and April 2008.
"We concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring criminal charges against Eric Illsley MP" of ex-premier Gordon Brown's party, said director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer.
Announcing the summons to attend City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, he added: "In total the charges allege a sum in excess of 20,000 pounds (29,000 dollars, 23,000 euros) was dishonestly claimed over this three-year period."
The charges alleged that Illsley dishonestly claimed expenses for council tax, service and maintenance charges, repairs and insurance charges, utilities and communications charges for his second home.
Illsley is the fourth ex-Labour MP to face charges over his expenses claims, while a suspended Conservative peer was also charged following revelations last year about thousands of extravagant claims made by members of parliament.
A party spokesman said: "The Labour Party's general secretary has issued Eric Illsley with a suspension following the CPS's (Crown Prosecution Services') announcement of criminal charges against him."
A major scandal broke out last year when the Daily Telegraph newspaper revealed that MPs and peers were claiming thousands of pounds for everything from gardening to duck houses and flat-screen televisions.
Parliamentary authorities have put into place a tough new expenses regime in the wake of the row.
New Prime Minister David Cameron, whose party won the most seats in parliament but has struck a coalition deal with Liberal Democrats, trumpeted a "new era" of British politics Tuesday as the House of Commons re-opened.
"This is a new era for our politics and something of a new start," said the Conservative party leader and premier.
© 2010 AFP