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7 January 2011

Expenses MP David Chaytor jailed for 18 months

The former Labour MP is the first MP to be sentenced over the expenses scandal.

By Duncan Robinson

David Chaytor was today sentenced to 18 months in jail after being found guilty of three charges of false accounting.

He is the first MP to be convicted over the expenses scandal that engulfed Westminster in 2009, and the first former MP since Jeffrey Archer in 2001 to be sent to prison.

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The former MP for Bury North had previously pleaded guilty to three charges of false accounting.

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Between 2005 and 2008, Chaytor illegally claimed more than £20,000 in expenses, including £12,925 in rent for a Westminster flat that he owned outright, after paying off its mortgage in 2003. Chaytor went so far as to submit a fake tenancy agreement, using his daughter’s first and middle names on the document.

Chaytor also claimed illegally for £5,425 in rent for a flat in Bury owned by his mother, as well as submitting two fraudulent invoices for IT services totalling £1,750.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said: “We say Mr Chaytor knew the rules – why else would he produce false documents in support of his claims otherwise?”

James Sturman QC, in mitigation on behalf of the former MP, said that Chaytor had pleaded guilty out of “deep and genuine remorse”. The MP changed his plea to guilty days before standing trial, after attempting to avoid having the case heard in court, citing parliamentary privilege.

When the scandal broke, Chaytor claimed that he had made an “unforgivable error in my accounting procedures”. He stood down as an MP in the 2010 general election after the Labour Party barred him from running.