Last of the expenses scandal?
So Margaret Moran has been charged over her expenses as an MP, and with 21 counts it sounds as if they’ve found enough mud to throw that some is likely to stick (plus of course the CPS policy is not to throw any mud at all unless the odds of stickicity is better than 50:50).
Charges relate to 15 charges of false accounting, contrary to the Theft Act 1968.
“It is alleged that she claimed expenses for the furnishing and improvement of main residences between November 2004 and August 2008 through a scheme intended for the maintenance of second homes or offices,” the DPP said.
She also faces six charges of forgery, where it is alleged that she submitted forged invoices.
And I think she’ll have a hard time persuading anyone on the jury that the house in Southampton was needed for staying over in London or had anything to do with work in her constituency in Luton.
Of 10 files of evidence handed to prosecutors, seven cases have resulted in charges.
“There are no longer any cases to be considered by the panel,” Mr Starmer said.
That this has taken more than two years to reach court, and that while only seven out of all those hundreds of iffy looking claims resulted in charges seems low the batting average of convictions has been high, may suggest that this is an occasion where the time has been taken to painstakingly build evidence and make a really strong case – as opposed to nicking someone on the strength of a fingerprint on something they’d have been expected to handle and then having to admit that actually that’s not evidence that they ever did a damned thing. Can someone explain that one to me? Why a possible murder case results in a relatively quick arrest followed by an embarrassing climbdown while a theft case which is arguably just as high profile is built up over months and then year before being brought to trial. Just wondering.
“Margaret Moran now stands charged with criminal offences and has the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could prejudice her trial.”
While I wouldn’t want to put money on being cleared that’s still true – there’s no doubt in my mind that she’s a nest-feathering, self interested, venal trougher, but she mightn’t be a criminally nest-feathering, self interested, venal trougher. But again I wonder if Rebecca Leighton might have appreciated a similar statement.
So the only question left in my mind, other than how many got away with it of course, is whether this really is the last of the expenses scandal. Or whether, since IPSA seems like a paper tiger and new parliament had barely got in the building before they were all complaining about scrutiny, we’ll be doing all this again in a few years. Personally I don’t believe that British politicians as a class learned their lesson and I’d be astonished if there aren’t some lining their pockets right now.