Expenses fraud ex-MP Morley freed
Former environment minister Elliot Morley has been freed from prison after serving a quarter of his 16-month sentence for fiddling his parliamentary expenses, sources have said.
Morley, who claimed more than £30,000 in bogus mortgage payments relating to his home in Winterton, near Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, between 2004 and 2007, was released from Ford open prison, near Arundel, West Sussex, early on Tuesday morning.
He joins three other former Labour MPs - David Chaytor, Eric Illsley and Jim Devine - and two former Tory peers - Lord Taylor and Lord Hanningfield - who have already been released after serving time behind bars for their role in the expenses scandal.
Morley, 59, was the first former minister to be jailed for fiddling his expenses.
It is understood that he was freed under the home detention curfew scheme, which allows prisoners who pose a low risk to be tagged and released early after serving at least a quarter of their sentence.
He pleaded guilty in April to claiming more than £30,000 in the scam, the largest sum claimed by any of the politicians so far convicted over the expenses scandal.
Sentencing Morley to 16 months' imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court in May, Mr Justice Saunders said he was guilty of "blatant dishonesty" and had "thrown away his good name and character".
In total, he claimed £16,800 on a bogus mortgage and £15,200 after inflating the amount he was previously paying - for which he should have been entitled to only £1,572.
Emma Boon, campaign director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said the early release "will do little to restore taxpayers' faith in politics after the expenses scandal".
"Even if he is not a dangerous criminal, he and other MPs and peers convicted over fraudulent claims should have served more of their sentences to reflect the seriousness of their crimes," she said. "It's disgraceful that he's walked free so soon and many taxpayers will feel that justice has not been done."