Essex: Expenses Peer 'Overwhelmed'

A former Tory peer who has brought a damages action against Essex Police has told the High Court how he was overwhelmed by the ``tsunami'' of the expenses scandal.

Lord Hanningfield, 72, is suing the force for up to £6,500 compensation over events in September 2011 - days after his release from prison after serving nine weeks of a nine month sentence for false accounting in relation to his parliamentary expenses.

The police, who deny that his arrest, detention and search of his home near Chelmsford were unlawful, were conducting an investigation into expenses from when the peer was leader of Essex County Council.

It was later discontinued without any charges being brought.

They say they were invited into the house before Lord Hanningfield was taken to Braintree police station, interviewed and bailed without any conditions.

Lord Hanningfield told Mr Justice Eady in London that he accepted he made mistakes over his parliamentary expenses but did not ever think he was doing anything wrong.

"But I was convicted by a jury and that's how life is. It is water under the bridge."

He said he was surprised and upset when he heard about the Essex investigation and thought the allegation against him "ridiculous".

"I did not take it that seriously because I knew there was nothing in it."

He said that recent events had left him traumatised, on the verge of a nervous breakdown and in need of anti-depressants.