Archive for February 5th, 2010

While Guido Fawkes reported this morning that 52% of MPs have been ‘found guilty’ of ‘looting’ in the parliamentary expenses fiasco – the Director of Public prosceutions has decided to charge 3 MPs and a peer.  A sixth peer is under further investigation.

The BBC reports: ” MPs Elliot Morley, Jim Devine, David Chaytor and Lord Hanningfield will be charged under the Theft Act. All four have said they denied any charges and would defend their positions robustly. Revelations about MPs expenses emerged in May last year with the police going on to investigate a handful of cases. Mr Starmer said there was “insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction” in the case of Labour peer Lord Clarke but said a sixth case remains under police investigation.”

This is a truly astonishing state of affairs.  Lawyers are suggesting that parliamentary privilege may be pleaded by the four charged. The DPP says that he has considered that possibility and is prepared to see it gtested in court.  It would, of course, be an even greater embarrassment for Parliament if parliamentary privilege could be successfully pleaded in a situation where MPs are carrying out activities completely unconnected with their works as MPs.

It is important to note that there is a big difference between claiming expenses for expenses incurred ‘within the rules’ – even though these have no been found to be excessive or not within the rules and claiming expenses but not incurring the expense.  The latter is clearly within the definition of the Theft Act. The BBC reports that…“All four Parliamentarians will face charges of false accounting made under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968.”

Breaking News: Mr. Brown expressed outrage today at the revelation that four MPs will face criminal charges over their expenses claims, saying he was “very angry about what’s happened.”

“These are very serious allegations,” he said.

“That’s why I have put forward proposals to reform not just the expenses system but the way that parliament works,” he added.

Gordon Brown has repaid £12,888.03 for overclaiming on cleaning and other expenses. BBC

Tom Harris MP (who is not on the Legg list) writes…

OKAY, I admit it – I’ve been itching to use that headline for months.

Former judge hits out at ‘damaging’ penalties as he grants MPs’ expenses appeals

Sir Paul Kennedy rejects some or all of Sir Thomas Legg’s demands for repayments in 44 cases, reducing repayment bill by £180,000.

The Guardian reports:

Sir Paul Kennedy, the former judge ­dealing with MPs’ appeals against demands for repayments after the expenses ­scandal, was deeply critical of the ­”damaging and unfair” penalties today as he granted the majority of the 75 appeals.

Kennedy, appointed by the Commons members estimate committee, rejected some or all of Sir Thomas Legg’s demands for repayments in 44 cases, reducing the repayment bill by £180,000. He was “particularly troubled”, he said, by the suggestion that claims by MPs who had not broken the rules of the time should be described as “tainted” or having “breached the requirements of propriety”.

BPP in the news
I have been advised by the Bar Standards Board that the report into the oversubscription by BPP Law School on the BVC course will be published in the course of the next week or so.  I will cover this fully when the time comes.

RollonFriday reports this morning: “BPP has welcomed its future LPC students with customary efficiency by addressing their acceptance emails to the wrong people. Students complained after the college sent out emails using the wrong Christian names and even, in some cases, got the wrong gender. This sort of thing doesn’t go down well with students who have just signed away £12,500 (the equivalent of over 3,000 doner kebabs or almost 5,000 pints of lager).”

RollonFriday is definitely hitting the high notes this week with this wonderful story…

Barrister’s dog obtains an MBA – and other animal stories: “The judgment in the long running Sky -v- EDS case was handed down this week, to the delight of Herbert Smith and its clients BSkyB. And while the commercial and legal ramifications of the £200m award will run for years, astute legal commentators were drawn immediately to the pivotal issue of the dog with the MBA.

During the proceedings, it was alleged that a managing director at EDS had a dodgy MBA, apparently from a college in the British Virgin Islands, but actually obtained through the internet. The point was ably demonstrated by Mark Howard QC who obtained a similar degree from the same college for his pet dog Lulu. As Mr Justice Ramsey noted: “Without any difficulty the dog was able to obtain a degree certificate and transcripts which were in identical form to those later produced by Joe Galloway – but with marks which, in fact, were better than those given to him“. Well what would you expect from the pet of Her Majesty’s Counsel?

More later today…

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