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The Jubilee River story - David Chaytor loses appeal

MPs' expenses: David Chaytor loses jail term appeal

Disgraced former MP David Chaytor was lucky not to receive a longer prison sentence for fiddling his parliamentary expenses, Britain’s most senior judge said.

David Chaytor: MPs' expenses: David Chaytor loses jail term appeal
David Chaytor was jailed for forging tenancy documents and invoices to falsely claim more than £22,000 of taxpayers' money for rent and IT work from the Commons authorities Photo: JANE MINGAY
The ex-Labour politician was jailed for 18 months in January after fraudulently claiming more than £20,000 in fake rent and office allowances.
His wrong-doing – in which he submitted false receipts and invoices - was exposed by The Daily Telegraph as it investigated MPs’ expenses in the spring of 2009.
Challenging the length of time in jail, Chaytor went to the Court of Appeal to try and get his prison term reduced by a third.
Jim Sturman QC, representing the former MP for Bury North, claimed that if his client had filed his expenses properly, he would have been legitimately entitled to the money.
However, Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, dismissed the argument and described the ex-politician as “calculating”, before adding: “He knew exactly what he was doing.”
In his ruling, he said: “The element of dishonesty is not simply inflated claims for expenses, but rather the careful preparation of bogus claims, supported by bogus documents.

“In truth they were bogus from start to finish… This sad fall from grace was entirely self-inflicted."

Chaytor had originally received a two year sentence, reduced by six months, in light of his guilty plea, which he made at Southwark Crown Court last December.

He admitted three counts of false accounting after claims for parliamentary privilege and abuse of process – arguing he could not get a fair trial due to adverse publicity - were thrown out by the courts.

Mr Sturman argued that his client should have been entitled to a third off the two year sentence because of his early plea.

However, the judge said the MP had “known all along that he had been dishonest” and only changed his plea when he ran out of options.

Lord Judge went even further, and said sentencing judge Mr Justice Saunders could have legitimately given the convicted ex-MP even less credit for his guilty plea.

“Indeed, in the circumstances, the discount could, without being open to criticism, have been somewhat further reduced.”

Chaytor is currently serving out his sentence at Spring Hill prison in Buckinghamshire, a category D open prison.

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