Hanningfield expenses: Council wants report before court action

Lord Hanningfield Lord Hanningfield was leader of Essex County Council from 2001 until 2010

A new report will be compiled by council officials to decide if it is worthwhile to sue disgraced peer Lord Hanningfield over expenses.

Lord Hanningfield's spend on the credit card included

  • £ 9,396 on flights to the US for himself and a council officer and £4,614 on flights to Shanghai
  • £3,840 for five people to stay at the four-star Norfolk Royale, Bournemouth (length of stay not specified)
  • £2.89 at a noodle bar in Mumbai
  • £61.95 on "books for travel"
  • £217.54 on dinner for two in Brussels
  • £230 on a day at Goodwood racecourse
  • £1,180 for accommodation for three people at Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa in Hampshire (length of stay not specified)
  • £467 for dinner for Lord Hanningfield and two other lords at Gordon Ramsey restaurant in London
  • £18.99 charger for his phone
  • £2,000 on food, travel and accommodation during the Labour Party conference
  • £540.25 dinner at 15 in Cornwall (Jamie Oliver restaurant)
  • £518.25 for dinner the following night at Seafood, Padstow (Rick Stein's restaurant)
  • £736 Christmas lunch in Chelmsford for council officers
  • £8,051 flights to CGLF conference for Lord Hanningfield and officer (destination unspecified)
  • £23.27 for lunch at Thelma and Louise cafe in Sydney
  • £538.78 House of Lords dinner for borough mayor, LH and two others
  • £3.06 drinks claim while on US trip
  • £120 accommodation for chauffeur, in King's Lynn, Norfolk

Essex County Council's executive wants the report to consider the issue of civil proceedings and whether to take action to recover any illegal claims.

Essex Police said last month they were no longer pursuing action.

The audit committee also recommended on Monday an examination of the council's own role in monitoring procedures.

The new report will be used by the executive to decide on whether to pursue further action after its recommendations are discussed.

Insufficient evidence

Lord Hanningfield is yet to comment on the original audit committee report or the new proposal.

The peer served nine weeks of a nine-month sentence for parliamentary expenses fraud totalling nearly £14,000. He was freed in September 2011.

He became leader of the council in 2000 and was issued with a credit card, the report said.

It is claimed some of the spending on the card was not backed up by receipts and there were other discrepancies, as several people had access to it.

Last month police and the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to make a criminal case against the peer over his expenses claims during his time as leader of Essex County Council and closed their files.

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