U.K. Lawmakers Lose Appeal Over Expenses Fraud Trial

July 30 (Bloomberg) -- Britain’s criminal courts have the right to try four U.K. politicians for false accounting, an appeal court ruled today.

The Court of Appeal in London rejected arguments made by the men’s lawyers that the rule of “Parliamentary privilege” means that they can only be tried by Parliament, not a normal criminal court. The ruling upholds an earlier judgment.

Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, all former Labour Party members of the House of Commons, and Paul White, a Conservative member of the House of Lords, have all pleaded not guilty to making fraudulent expenses claims to the House of Commons and House of Lords while working as lawmakers.

The lawmakers are alleged to have taken advantage of their financial allowances “to commit crimes of dishonesty to which parliamentary immunity does not, has never, and, we believe, never would attach,” the three-judge panel said in its ruling.

The U.K.’s Supreme Court has the power to overturn the judgment.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Lumley in London at jlumley1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.