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Supervision order for MP Moran
A judge has given a supervision and treatment order to expense-fiddling former Labour MP Margaret Moran, conceding that some people may think she had "got away with it".
But Mr Justice Saunders said all the evidence in the case was that Moran, who does not receive a criminal conviction, was unfit to plead because of a depressive illness. He gave her the two-year order for fiddling expenses to receive more than £53,000 from the taxpayer.
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 for 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 does not receive a criminal conviction after it was ruled she was unfit to stand trial for mental health reasons.
Mr Justice Saunders, at Southwark Crown Court, made the two-year order, to be supervised by Southampton City Council.
Dr Simon Kelly, from the Priory Hospital in Southampton, said Moran was "severely ill" and had been "deeply distressed" by a newspaper article which had pictured her at a pub. Asked how the November 25 article had affected her illness, Dr Kelly said: "She experienced panic attacks, nightmares and believes that she is going to be doorstepped at any point."
Mr Justice Saunders said two distinguished psychiatrists instructed by the defence had concluded she was unfit to plead, and a psychiatrist instructed by the prosecution broadly agreed. A jury decided that she did the acts alleged against her, and the defence played little if any part in the hearing. The judge added: "The findings of the court were not convictions. Those findings enable me to make orders requiring her to undergo treatment for her mental health."
Asked how she would have reacted if she had to come to court, Dr Kelly said: "She is so sensitised to publicity, this would have been the most difficult place for her to come. I wonder physically whether it would be possible to get her here. I don't know whether it would be physically possible to remove her from her home without restraining her."
Jim Sturman, representing Moran, said: "The more vengeful press, who hound her at her front door, seem to think that the only way someone can be demonstrably mentally ill is if they are in a straitjacket in a padded cell. Hounding a mentally ill woman is a dangerous and vile thing to do, at any time, particularly post the Leveson conclusions. It could have led to an increased risk of suicide. There will always be sections of the media who believe it's a huge con. But they've not read all the evidence."
The judge said the order would be under the supervision of a mental health social worker employed by Southampton City Council, and Moran would be treated by Dr Kelly, with a view to the improvement of her medical condition.