Essex Peer Jailed For Fiddling Expenses

1 July 2011, 07:52 | Updated: 1 July 2011, 15:13

The former leader of Essex County Council has been jailed after being found guilty of fiddling his parliamentary expenses.

Lord Hanningfield will spend the next nine months behind bars after being found guilty of six counts of false accounting.

The 70 year old was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court after being found guilty of falsely claiming nearly £14,000 for overnight stays in London when he was not in the capital.

His expenses-fiddling included one occasion in February 2008 when he was actually on board a flight to India.

Whilst being tried at Chelmsford Crown Court in May the former Essex County Council leader said he "quite honestly assumed" that it was common practice in the House of Lords to be claiming full expenses.

During the two-week trial, the jury were told that between March 2006 and May 2009 he claimed for overnight stays in London when he had actually been chauffeur-driven to stay at his home near Chelmsford.

He told the court that he had remortgaged his home to pay his lawyers to fight the charges and had not applied for legal aid.

The peer also explained in court that the allegations had triggered various health problems for him including an episode when he "almost had a breakdown".