Expense: Hanningfield and Taylor freed from jail

Lord Hanningfield and Lord Taylor Lord Hanningfield and Lord Taylor were among six parliamentarians jailed for expenses fraud

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Ex-Conservative peers Lord Taylor of Warwick and Lord Hanningfield have been released early from jail sentences for fiddling parliamentary expenses.

Former Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield was jailed for nine months in July for falsely claiming almost £14,000 for overnight stays in London.

Lord Taylor was jailed for a year in May for fraudulently claiming £11,277.

It is understood they were freed on curfew with electronic tags, having served a quarter of their term.

The Prison Service does not comment on individual cases but a spokesman said home detention was used for "low-risk prisoners", serving sentences of between three months and four years, who had spent at least 30 days behind bars.

Both peers had said during their trials that submitting false claims was accepted practice among members of the Lords.

The pair were among six parliamentarians to be imprisoned following the expenses scandal, along with former Labour MPs Eric Illsley, David Chaytor, Jim Devine and Elliot Morley.

Lord Taylor, 58, was found guilty of six charges of false accounting over claims for travel costs and subsistence.

'Entitled' to claim

He had 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.

Lord Hanningfield, 70, was found guilty of six similar charges after claiming overnight subsistence when he was not in the capital.

He had appealed against conviction on the basis the original trial judge had misdirected the jury over an element in his defence - that he believed he was entitled to make the claims as they conformed with the accepted practice of the Lords at the time.

However, the Court of Appeal rejected his argument.

House of Lords The Lords' expenses system has been reformed since the scandal emerged

The trial jury had heard that Lord Hanningfield was in poor health and had been diagnosed with clinical depression.

The former pig farmer said he had treated the Lords expenses for staying overnight in London as an allowance for living outside the capital and spent just "a minute a month" completing his claim forms.

He insisted his parliamentary duties had left him thousands of pounds out of pocket and said he had "averaged out" his claims to recoup some of the money he spent.

At the time, peers - who are not paid a salary - were able to claim up to £174-a-night when attending Parliament, if their main home was outside London, along with a daily allowance to cover out-of-pocket costs for office work, food and taxis.

However, reforms introduced in the wake of the parliamentary expenses scandal have meant that - since last October - they have been eligible for a daily attendance allowance of £300, or £150 for those attending only part of a sitting day.

This is intended to cover all daily and overnight subsistence, and office costs. Some travel costs are dealt with separately.

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