Ex-Tory peer Lord Taylor jailed for expenses fraud
- 31 May 2011
- From the section UK Politics
Former Conservative peer Lord Taylor of Warwick has been jailed for 12 months for falsely claiming £11,277 in parliamentary expenses.
He claimed for travel between a home he used in Oxford and Westminster, as well for overnight stays in London.
The 58-year-old said he had made the false claims "in lieu of a salary", and had been acting on colleagues' advice.
Jailing him, judge Mr Justice Saunders said the expenses scandal had "left an indelible stain on Parliament".
Taylor, who was Britain's first black Conservative peer and a former barrister and radio and TV presenter, listed his main residence as a home in Oxford, which was owned by his nephew, while he actually lived in a flat in Ealing, west London.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges - saying had been told by senior peers it was normal practice to make false expenses claims - but was convicted in January.
'Breach of trust'
His legal team argued that he should not face prison because, as a peer, his crimes were less serious than those of MPs found guilty over their expenses.
His barrister said he had committed "a single monumental error of judgment" and a custodial term would "destroy him", adding that: "Every fibre of Taylor is motivated by public service."
Mr Justice Saunders acknowledged that the Lords expenses scheme "lacked clarity" and was treated by some peers as an allowance which they were entitled to claim in full.
He also said the "truly remarkable" tributes contained in a series of character references showed the peer was a role model to many young people.
But the judge said Taylor had lied to journalists investigating his expenses and lied while giving evidence to the jury during his trial.
"The expenses scheme in the House of Lords was based on trust," he said.
"Peers certified that their claims were accurate. They were not required to provide proof. It was considered that people who achieved a peerage could be relied on to be honest.
"Making false claims involved a breach of a high degree of trust."
He added: "Lord Taylor has now told the probation officer that he fully accepts that he is guilty of the offences and has expressed regret and remorse for what he has done.
"While it is to his credit that Lord Taylor admits his guilt, it does mean that he accepts that he wasn't telling the truth on oath in the witness box."
Taylor's lawyers, IBB Solicitors, said afterwards he was "distraught" at being jailed.
But they added: "Upon his release he will continue to serve the public, as he has done for the past 20 years, with the charitable organisations he has worked for."
Following the sentencing, it was revealed that about 15 of Taylor's fellow peers refused to give evidence to support his defence.
During the trial, Taylor said he had relied on the advice of Lord Colwyn, the long-standing hereditary peer and deputy speaker of the Lords, when submitting his expenses claims - something Lord Colwyn denied.
Taylor is the latest in a series of politicians to be jailed for expenses fraud.
Former Labour MP Jim Devine was given a 16-month term after also pleading not guilty. His fellow former Labour members Eric Illsley, David Chaytor and Elliot Morley all pleaded guilty and were jailed for 12, 18 and 16 months respectively.
Illsley and Chaytor have already been released from jail after serving less than a third of their sentences although they have been tagged and subject to home detention curfews.
Lord Hanningfield, another former Conservative peer, was convicted last week and is awaiting sentence.