U.K. lawmaker John Taylor was sentenced to 12 months in prison for fraudulently claiming thousands of pounds of expenses from Britain’s unelected upper chamber, the House of Lords.
The term for false accounting violations was the least amount of jail time the court could impose on Taylor, 58, who was convicted in January, Judge John Saunders said in a statement today. Saunders had delayed sentencing to prevent it from affecting the trial of another lawmaker, Paul White, also known as Lord Hanningfield, who was convicted last week.
“The evidence that the jury and I heard in both the trial of Lord Taylor and Lord Hanningfield demonstrated that the manner in which the expenses scheme in the House of Lords operated lacked clarity,” Saunders said in the statement.
Taylor became the first lawmaker to be convicted by a jury over expenses fraud since the scandal swept through parliament in 2009. Two lawmakers from the elected House of Commons, David Chaytor and Eric Illsley, have pleaded guilty to fraud charges. Chaytor was sentenced to 18 months in jail, while Illsley got 12 months.
“Lord Taylor is distraught with the sentence but fully accepts the court’s decision,” the lawmaker’s law firm, IBB Solicitors, said in a statement today.
‘Unclear’ Expenses System
Taylor had denied wrongdoing. During the trial his lawyer Mohammed Khamisa said the House of Lords’ expenses system was “unclear” and “ill-defined.”
At trial, prosecutors told a jury that between June 2006 and October 2007, Taylor lied on six claims for travel and accommodation. Taylor told Parliament’s expenses office that he lived in Oxford and commuted to London during the week, and so needed to pay for accommodation in the city, Law said. In reality he was living in London, prosecutors said.
London police welcomed the sentence, saying the prison term “follows a thorough and detailed investigation of Lord Taylor of Warwick’s parliamentary claims,” according to a statement.
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