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Jailed expenses fraud peers freed

Former Tory peers Lord Taylor of Warwick and Lord Hanningfield have been freed from prison after serving only a quarter of their sentences for fiddling their parliamentary expenses, according to sources.

Lord Taylor, 58, was jailed for 12 months in May for fraudulently claiming more than £11,000 in taxpayers' money while Lord Hanningfield, 70, received a nine-month sentence in July after falsely claiming nearly £14,000.

Three former Labour MPs jailed over the parliamentary expenses scandal - David Chaytor, Eric Illsley and Jim Devine - have already been released.

Lord Taylor, a Birmingham-born former barrister who became the first black Conservative peer when he took his seat in the House of Lords in 1996, was found to have lied under oath during his expenses fraud trial.

He told the House of Lords members' expenses office that his main residence was a house in Oxford, when in fact he lived in west London, Southwark Crown Court heard.

The peer never stayed in, and only twice visited, the Oxford property, which was owned by the partner of his half-nephew, Robert Taylor. He was therefore not entitled to claim money from the Lords authorities for travelling from there to London and staying overnight in the capital.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Saunders said Lord Taylor had thrown away his many positive achievements in public life "not by one stupid action but by a protracted course of dishonesty".

Lord Hanningfield is a former pig farmer from West Hanningfield, near Chelmsford, Essex, who served as a Lords opposition frontbencher and leader of Essex County Council. He falsely claimed £13,379 in parliamentary expenses for overnight stays in London when he was not in the capital, including one occasion when he was actually on board a flight to India.

Giving evidence, he alleged that most other peers treated the House of Lords as a "club", turning up there for only 10 minutes to claim their daily allowance. The peer suffers from ill-health and has been diagnosed with clinical depression, his trial heard.

It is understood that the peers were freed separately 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.


From Belfast Telegraph