Jailed peer Lord Hanningfield rues expenses 'mistake'

"I didn't know I was doing wrong." These are the words of a man who spent nine weeks in jail after being convicted of dishonestly claiming £14,000 from the House of Lords.

In his first television interview since his release in September, Lord Hanningfield maintained he was only sorry he had made a "mistake in filling out the forms" and he did not apologise for over-claiming.

He told the BBC's Stewart White that he did not know he was doing wrong at the time.

"I do accept now I should have thought more about it and consulted people and taken advice and not filled in the forms as I did."

Lord Hanningfield said that without the expenses "fiasco", he believed "nothing would have happened".

Police investigation

The peer, 71, said he expected not to be jailed because due to his age and had spent his first days behind bars in shock.

"When the judge sentenced me and said 'take him down' that was the very worst thing."

The disgraced peer was put under a home curfew arrangement when he was released after serving a quarter of his sentence for expenses fraud.

The former leader of Essex County Council has now had his electronic tag removed.

He was born Paul White and was first elected as a Conservative councillor in 1970; ennobled in 1998. He led Essex County Council for almost a decade before he was forced to resign.

In the Lords he served as opposition whip and front bench spokesman.

Essex Police are now investigating his county council expense claims.