Chaytor jailed over false expenses
The first ex-MP to be jailed over the Westminster expenses scandal woke up behind bars after being sentenced to 18 months for falsely claiming more than £22,000 of taxpayers' money.
David Chaytor, who represented Bury North for 13 years, admitted fiddling his expenses by forging tenancy documents, and was told by a High Court judge his punishment was needed to help restore public trust in politicians.
But the 61-year-old could be released as soon as the end of May under early release rules for non-violent prisoners who pose a low risk, and it remained unclear whether he would still receive a £54,000-plus Commons "golden goodbye".
Under the home detention curfew scheme, the disgraced Labour ex-politician may only have to serve four-and-a-half months of his sentence behind bars before being tagged and released.
Passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, Mr Justice Saunders told Chaytor that because he breached the "high degree of trust" placed on MPs, his offence had "wider and more important consequence" than other similar crimes.
"It is necessary their behaviour should be entirely honest if public confidence in the parliamentary system and the rule of law is to be maintained," he said.
Chaytor, of Lumbutts, Todmorden, West Yorkshire, was beginning his sentence at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, where he was being strip-searched, photographed and fingerprinted before being issued with prison clothing.
The former lecturer initially denied the charges but changed his plea after failing to have the case thrown out citing parliamentary privilege and that he could not receive a fair trial because of media scrutiny.
He pleaded guilty last month to three counts of false accounting between November 2005 and January 2008.
The fraud involved bogus documents Chaytor submitted to support claims totalling £22,650 for IT services and renting homes in London and his Bury North constituency which were in fact owned by him and his mother. The court heard he only received £18,350 because he had already reached his limit for the IT expenses and was not awarded the full amount for one rental claim.