Two lords and a lady at the trough
For utter shamelessness, milords Hanningfield and Taylor of Warwick and milady Uddin would be hard to beat. The two lords have been to prison for fraudulently claiming thousands of pounds worth of expenses. The Baroness was not prosecuted, but she was suspended from the House of Lords and ordered by the Privileges Committee to repay £125,349 she should never have claimed.
All three are back and pocketing expenses,albeit legitimately, like they are feeding an addiction.
Hanningfield, the former Conservative leader of Essex County Council, must have been born with a brass neck. Aside from the £14,000 in parliamentary expenses he fiddled, for which he served nine weeks of a nine month prison sentence, he could yet face civil proceedings over the eye-watering expenses he claimed from the council tax payers of Essex, including five claims for dinner which came to just under £2,300. He says that they were not just for him and his claims were audited.
Unabashed, he is back in the House of Lords, where there are subsidised bars and dining rooms. He has not spoken in the chamber or asked a written question since February 2010, but the latest published figures show that in July alone he trousered £3,600 in attendance allowance plus £265 travel expenses, bringing the total he has claimed since he was let out of jail to £12,046.
Lord Taylor of Warwick announced to the Daily Telegraph that he would be returning to the Lords after he had served three months of a 12 month sentence for fiddling £11,000, whereupon Michael Dobbs, a recently ennobled Tory peer, publicly asked the Lords authorities to let him know that he was not welcome. But there he is. Unlike Hanningfield, he has put in some written questions as well as claiming £2,100 attendance allowances in July, bringing his total claims since his release to £6,300.
Baroness Uddin, a former Labour peer, has been making speeches, tabling written questions and – of course – claiming expenses – £1,800 in each of the two month of June and July.
It would be impossible for any elected MP or local councillor to survive in office for very long after being involved in a major expenses scandal. Dennis MacShane, the last MP to get caught, promptly resigned from Parliament. Those who do not resign get kicked out at the next election. In other jobs, fiddling expenses gets you the sack. But a seat in the House of Lords is for life, no matter what.
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