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29 April 2016, 11:28 | Updated: 29 April 2016, 15:09
A former Member of the European Parliament from Snodland, Kent has been jailed for four years for expenses fraud including using public money to pay for his divorce settlement.
Peter Skinner, 56, of Recreation Avenue, Snodland, wrongfully claimed thousands of pounds that should have been used to cover staff costs.
He was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday 29 April having previously been found guilty of one count of fraud, one count of false accounting and one count of making a false instrument.
The court heard how officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate launched an investigation into Skinner’s activities in December 2010 when they became aware of a potentially fraudulent document relating to consultancy work Skinner claimed had been provided by his father.
It was later established that the document, which authorised payments of £5,000 to his father’s business every three months, contained false signatures.
Through further audits of Skinner’s personal and office accounts, the investigators also found numerous examples of Skinner spending money intended for staff on himself and others.
Examples including him buying a Land Rover Discovery for his ex-wife and paying monthly maintenance payments as part of his divorce settlement, as well as for his honeymoon to the United States and Hawaii following his second marriage.
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Adrian Brown said: ‘Peter Skinner served as an MEP for 20 years and has badly let down those who supported and trusted him throughout his time in office.
‘He abused his position, diverting significant sums of public money from legitimate parliamentary use to enhance his own lifestyle.’