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Politicians lose expenses appeal

Three former Labour MPs and a Tory peer have lost appeals over a ruling that they are not protected from prosecution by parliamentary privilege over allegations that they fiddled their expenses.

Court of Appeal judges in London rejected challenges brought by David Chaytor, Elliot Morley, Jim Devine and Lord Hanningfield, who deny theft by false accounting.

The four had appealed against a ruling in June by Mr Justice Saunders, sitting at Southwark Crown Court in central London, who rejected arguments that they were protected by parliamentary privilege and should be dealt with by Parliament alone.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Lord Neuberger and Sir Anthony May, agreed with the judge.

Each of the four defendants, who are all on unconditional bail, face separate criminal trials as a result of the ruling. But it is open to them to seek to take their case to the Supreme Court for a further challenge.

Former Bury North MP Chaytor, 60, of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, is accused of falsely claiming rent on a London flat he owned, falsely filing invoices for IT work and renting a property from his mother, against regulations.

Ex-Scunthorpe MP Morley, 58, of Winterton, North Lincolnshire, is charged with falsely claiming £30,428 in interest payments between 2004 and 2007 towards a mortgage on his home which he had already paid off.

Devine, 57, of Bathgate, West Lothian, formerly MP for Livingston, is accused of wrongly submitting two invoices worth a total of £5,505 for services provided by Armstrong Printing Limited.

He also faces a second charge alleging that he dishonestly claimed cleaning and maintenance costs of £3,240 by submitting false invoices from Tom O'Donnell Hygiene and Cleaning Services.

And former Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield, who is also known as Paul White, 69, of West Hanningfield, near Chelmsford, Essex, faces six charges of making dishonest claims for travelling allowances.

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