Essex

Lord Hanningfield credit card: Essex council drops legal threat

  • 4 July 2014
  • From the section Essex
Lord Hanningfield Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lord Hanningfield was leader of Essex County Council from 2001 until 2010

Legal action over a Lord's £50,000 council credit card spend will not be pursued, it has been confirmed.

Lord Hanningfield, jailed for parliamentary expenses fraud in 2011, spent £286,000 on the card while he was leader of Essex County Council.

The authority claims nearly £51,000 was potentially inappropriately spent - something the peer denies.

The current Essex leader David Finch urged Lord Hanningfield to "man up" and pay back the money.

Thelma and Louise

The council's decision against taking legal action to reclaim the money was made on the back of advice from lawyers.

Mr Finch said: "This is about doing the right thing.

"It is about choosing to spend money on providing care, education, and roads, instead of spending it lining the pockets of expensive lawyers.

"I've made sure this situation can never happen again and our governance is now second to none, but I am still as angry and frustrated about this situation as Essex taxpayers are.

"So I am calling again on Lord Hanningfield to do the right thing and repay the money he owes.

"I believe he should man up and do the right thing and he should return money he spent in excess."

Lord Hanningfield became leader of the council in 2000 and was issued with a credit card.

The council claims some of the spending on the card was not authenticated by receipts and there were other discrepancies, as several people had access to the card.

Among the items claimed for were a near-£4,000 Bournemouth hotel bill, tens of thousands of pounds on flights and £23.27 for lunch at the Thelma and Louise cafe in Sydney.

Lord Hanningfield, who claimed his £300-a-day House of Lords attendance allowance on 11 days despite being there for less than 40 minutes on each occasion, declined to comment on the matter when approached earlier by the BBC.

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