Monday, 12 April 2010

Taxpayers Fund MP's facing criminal charges

I was just driving home when I heard on the radio that the three Labour MPs facing criminal charge (Devine, Chaytor and Morley) are to get legal aid to defend their case.

Conservative leader David Cameron said "Granting legal aid to the MPs was a complete outrage". Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said "People will be dismayed that former MP s are going to get legal aid in their expenses cases". I could not agree more. Using tax payers money for people who are wealthy and given the outrage in the public on the expenses scandle could not be timed worse for Labour.

Apparently this can only be done at some courts like Southwark Crown Court because means testing is being phased in for all the Crown Court's in England and Wales. So People can pick and choose which court to use based on which one offer legal aid, how is this right? Why not introduce this too all courts and not phase it in. The "interests of justice" test began to be phased out in January and replaced by a means test for all Crown Court cases in England and Wales but Southwark Crown Court is not yet part of the new scheme. So it did not apply to the MPs simply because the case is at Southwark Crown Court.

If conviced (this could mean a 7 year prison sentence) the judge can ask for these fee to be paid back. However this does not happen often from what I understand. I hope if conviced the judge will ensure this is paid back to the public purse.

6 comments:

  1. I caught this story on the Radio too, I was confused as the Legal Aid cut off point is £78 per week. It is a means tested service. MPs earn more than this (£1075 per week before tax extra!)

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  2. They can always ask fro a loan from fellow Mp our very own Andrew Mackay who will get a payoff packet of 1.8 million

    Good bye indeed!

    [url]http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7086828.ece[/url]

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  3. I could not believe what I was hearing when I caught this item. They still don't get it! Firstly they hired the priciest lawyers, then they tried to claim parliamentary privelege, now they have wangled us into paying for it. They ripped us off in the first place, that's why they need lawyers as they head for the dock, now they expect us to pay for them! I appreciate that no-one should be judged guilty until all the evidence has been heard (although in this case I think most of it is already in the public domain and Crown Prosecutor obviously believes there is enough to convict)but it is not beyond the powers of whoever is the next Secretary for Justice/Home Secretary to order the relevant judge to enforce the clawback if they are found guilty, whether or not the sentence is custodial. I understand that the lord involved in the proceedings has at least had the good grace not to apply(or did Cameron order him not to?). Whatever the result on May 6th there will be more new MPs than old hands - we must make them realize just how abhorrent this outrage is to almost every tax-payer. The legal fees cost to our purses of this case would pay for an extra wardful of nurses or even go a long way towards the cost of the proposed new health facility in Bracknell.

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  4. Kelly your right however its not fully phased in until June so at some courts this rule does not yet apply.

    Anonymous Thanks for the link. Amazing 1.8million pension amazing.

    Oldbiddy - If Camerson did order him too it was a good move. But I fear the electorate will still in many case return MP's from the same parties as could be the case in bracknell. lets see what happens.

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