The Police have launched an investigation after a member of the House of Lords was found to have wrongly claimed £3,300 in expenses.
Lord Hanningfield signed for £300 a day yet he did little or no parliamentary work. An investigation by the Lords Commissioner for standards, Paul Kernaghan, revealed that over a period of 11 days in July last year, he spent less than 40 minutes on the parliamentary estate.
The peer tried to deflect attention away from his activities, which were monitored by the Mirror newspaper, by saying “I could name 50 other peers that do it.”
His claim is similar to a defence he used back in 2009 at the height of the ‘expenses scandal’ when he was questioned by police over false accounting. At the time he said he had been ‘singled out and “I have done the same as 500 or 600 other peers.”
The Crime Prosecution Service accused Hanningfield of claiming for overnight stays in London when he had in fact returned to his home in Essex. On one occasion, when he claimed reimbursement for an overnight stay in London, he was actually on a plane to India.
He was charged with offences under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 and found guilty of six counts and given a custodial sentence.
Officers at Scotland Yard have now opened a criminal probe into the behaviour of the peer and others who may have been doing the same. The former leader of Essex County Council viewed the expenses, which earned him about £30,000, as “a de facto salary.”
The Metropolitan Police confirmed to the Telegraph that there is “a review of allegations of unlawful claiming of allowances at the House of Lords”. In addition, a Scotland Yard statement said: “We can confirm a 73-year-old man attended by appointment an East London police station and was interviewed under caution in relation to an allegation of fraud.”