December 15, 2011

Ex-MPs ordered to repay legal costs of expenses cases

Former MPs David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Eric Illsley have been told to repay thousands of pounds in legal costs after their convictions for fraudulently claiming expenses.
They were told by a judge at Southwark Crown Court to pay, between them, prosecution costs totalling £58,530 and to repay legal aid costs of £66,950.
They were among six parliamentarians jailed for expenses fraud.
But ex-MP Jim Devine will not be asked to repay anything as he is bankrupt.
Chaytor, Morley and Illsley received prison sentences of 18 months, 16 months and 12 months respectively for claiming parliamentary expenses they were not entitled to.
All three have since been released from jail and are serving the rest of their sentences under licence.
'Significant amount'
The three men all pleaded guilty to fraud before their cases went to trial. However, they now face large legal bills for the costs of the prosecutions brought against them and for the publicly funded legal aid they received.
Morley has been asked to repay the largest amount, £56,181 in total. Chaytor has been asked to repay £46,212 while Illsley faces a claim for £23,087.
The taxpayer will not recover the full costs of the legal aid awarded to Morley and Chaytor after Justice Saunders upheld their argument that some of the costs should be publicly covered on the grounds of parliamentary privilege. However, both men will have to pay the cost of their Crown Court hearings.
The Legal Services Commission said that "those who can afford to pay towards their defence costs should pay".
"It is worth remembering that by bringing these proceedings we have ensured that a significant amount of the legal aid costs will be paid for by these individuals," the organisation's chief executive Owen Mapley said.
Illsley has voluntarily agreed to repay his legal aid costs.
Justice Saunders said the case of Devine, convicted for a year for expenses fraud, was "different".
"He is bankrupt. It seems unlikely that he will have anything left by the time all his debts are paid off."

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