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Lord Taylor jailed over £11,000 expenses fraud

By Andy McSmith

Lord Taylor, once one of the most promising Tory politicians of his generation, was jailed for a year yesterday for defrauding the taxpayer of more than £11,000.

He was convicted by a jury in January, but the judge delayed passing sentence until the end of the trial of Lord Hanningfield, another expenses-fiddling, and formerly Conservative, peer.

John Taylor was the first black politician selected to contest a winnable Commons seat for the Tories. Later, he was the first black Tory peer, and the youngest Tory peer. Now he has another two “firsts” to his career. He is the first Conservative and the first member of the House of Lords jailed during the expenses scandal.

But, unlike the four Labour MPs imprisoned for their parts in the scandal, Taylor need not necessarily feel that his political career is over. An anachronism in the British constitution says that a life peer is a life peer, no matter what.

Taylor had denied fraud, claiming that he had been told by a fellow peer that he was entitled to claim travel costs and an overnight allowance despite living in London. But the jury at Southwark Crown Court decided that he knew from the start that he was committing fraud.

He had told the House of Lords that he lived in Oxford, at an address he had visited only twice and where he had never stayed overnight. It was the home of his nephew, Robert Taylor.

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