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Then there were six: files on two more politicians' expenses handed to CPS

TWO more files of evidence against politicians suspected of abusing their expenses were handed over to prosecutors by the police yesterday.

It means the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is now examining six cases of alleged wrongdoing by MPs and peers.

One of those who had been under investigation by police is the Livingston Labour MP Jim Devine, but Scotland Yard would not say if either of the new files concerned him.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said:

"These files relate to two people and will now be subject to CPS consideration on whether there should be any charges.

"The CPS is now considering files relating to a total of six people from both Houses. A small number of cases remain under investigation."

None of the parliamentarians concerned has been named by the police or the CPS.

But recent media reports have concentrated on six individuals, including Mr Devine, the former Unison official who succeeded the late Robin Cook as Livingston MP. The controversy over his expenses surrounds invoices he submitted for 2,157 of electrical work from a company with an allegedly fake address and invalid VAT number.

Among the other five are Labour MPs Elliot Morley and David Chaytor, who each claimed thousands of pounds in second home allowances for so-called "phantom" mortgages that had already been paid off.

Labour peer Baroness Uddin is facing allegations that she claimed 100,000 in allowances by registering as her main home a property in Maidstone, Kent, that was reportedly barely occupied.

Another Labour peer, Lord Clarke of Hampstead, a former party chairman, has admitted his "terrible error" in claiming up to 18,000 a year for overnight subsistence when he often stayed with friends in London or returned home to St Albans in Hertfordshire.

Lord Hanningfield, a Conservative peer, is believed to be under investigation over whether he was returning to his home from Westminster while claiming overnight allowances totalling 100,000 over a seven-year period.

All six of those named deny any wrong-doing.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer will have to decide whether charges should be brought against any of them.

Potentially, the parliamentarians could be prosecuted for fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.

A CPS spokesman said:

"Any decisions on whether or not there should be any charges in relation to these files and those already received will be made as quickly as is reasonably practical."

Mr Devine was unavailable for comment yesterday.

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Mr Devine was barred from being a Labour candidate as a result of our internal process set up after the publication of MPs' expenses. He will not stand for Labour at the next election."

Meanwhile, it was claimed yesterday that MPs had rejected explicit warnings that their second homes allowance needed an overhaul long before the expenses scandal erupted this year.

The Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) suspected that "all was not well" with the administration of the so-called additional costs allowance more than two years ago.

The claims were made by Sir John Baker, chairman of the independent SSRB between 2002 and 2008, in an interview with BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

Sir John said Commons officials had been instructed – by then Speaker Michael Martin, other senior MPs and possibly ministers – not to co-operate with the SSRB's attempts to review the system.

 
 
 

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