The announcement on Friday by Keir Starmer, QC, UK’s Director of Public Prosecutions to charge three MPs under the Theft Act 1968 over their lavish and illegal use of tax payers money is set to usher in a precedent for the battle between the rights of Parliament and courts.
But as Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine each prepare to face a possible seven years behind bars, politicians all over the world and especially in Africa, will be looking at a possible case that could rid most parliaments of imbecile honorable members.
In a joint statement, the three MPs announced that they would fight the charges by claiming parliamentary privilege over their expense claims. It said: “We maintain that this is an issue that should be resolved by the parliamentary commissioner, who is there to enforce any breach of the rules.”
They are trying to avoid the humiliation of appearing in court by sticking on to a possible privellege which would then see their grave dishonesty being handled by a less harsh and perhaps understanding parliamentary commisioner.
have been summoned to appear initially on March 11, shortly before Gordon Brown is expected to call the general election. All insisted they were not guilty, and a full trial is not expected until later in the year.
Mr Starmer said he believed that there was evidence that the MPs broke the laws of concealment, falsification and destruction of accounting records for financial gain.
Mr Morley, MP for Scunthorpe, was charged with claiming £14,428 more than he was entitled on mortgage costs for a property in Winterton, Lincolnshire. He then claimed a further £16,000 after the mortgage had been paid off.
Mr Chaytor was accused of using faked invoices to claim for £1,950 of IT services. He also claimed £12,925 for renting a property in Regency Street, Central London, which he already owned, as well as claiming rent on a property owned by his mother.
Mr Devine, MP for Livingston, faces charges for using fake invoices to claim £3,240 for cleaning and £5,505 for stationery.