U.K. Lawmakers in Expenses Scandal Renew Fight for ‘Privilege’

Oct. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Three former U.K. lawmakers accused of abusing their expenses told Britain’s highest court that parliamentary privilege protects them from being tried in the criminal courts.

U.K. prosecutors in February charged the men, Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, over the false accounting of their expenses while serving as Labour Party members of Parliament. Two lower courts have ruled that the men should be tried in a criminal court.

Nigel Pleming, a lawyer for the men, told the Supreme Court in London that the lawmakers didn’t claim to be above the law. He said they were bringing the case to determine the correct location for a trial.

“We submit that it is in Parliament, and only Parliament that the statements made to Parliament can be questioned or impugned.”

Pleming said that because the lawmakers filed their expenses statements into the parliament’s Fees Office, the expenses are covered by the privilege rule.

The case is: R v Chaytor & Others (Appellants).

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.