Bogus expenses MP to be sentenced

Andover Advertiser: Former Labour MP Margaret Moran forged invoices for more than 20,000 pounds of non-existent goods and services Former Labour MP Margaret Moran forged invoices for more than 20,000 pounds of non-existent goods and services

A former Labour MP who fiddled her expenses claims to receive more than £53,000 from the taxpayer is to be sentenced.

Margaret Moran, 57, who represented Luton South for 13 years, claimed nearly her entire annual allowance in one bogus expense entry and forged invoices for more than £20,000 of non-existent goods and services.

The disgraced former MP's claims were the largest amount uncovered in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal, but she will not receive a criminal conviction after a judge ruled she was unfit to stand trial for mental health reasons.

Instead, in a trial of issue last month, a jury at Southwark Crown Court in London found that she had committed 15 counts of false accounting and six counts of using a false instrument over the claims for parliamentary expenses.

Trial judge Mr Justice Saunders said that when sentenced Moran may be subject to a supervision order, a hospital order or absolute discharge, where no further action is taken against her.

Moran, of Ivy Road, St Denys, Southampton, was found to have falsely claimed around £60,000 in parliamentary expenses between 2004 and 2008, of which she received £53,000. She was first elected in 1997 and stood down at the 2010 General Election,

The court heard Moran submitted an invoice for £22,500 in August 2008 - just under the annual maximum expense allowance for an MP - to treat dry rot at her Southampton home, using the money instead to fund "home improvements".

She was able to make the dry rot claim by "flipping" her two homes - changing which property was her second home and therefore allowing her to claim expenses on it. Moran also changed dates on invoices for the work so that the money would be paid.

She also claimed more than £2,000 for a landline at her flat when there was no phone line fitted, the jury heard, and for carpet for three bedrooms at her one-bedroom Westminster flat. Jurors heard that Moran altered addresses to make it look as if she was making legitimate claims for her second home or constituency office, when they were to cover her personal costs.

Moran "abused the scheme", prosecutors said, going as far as to re-submit expenses claims with different descriptions and supportive invoices if they were initially rejected by parliamentary authorities. She will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court.

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