Beds, Herts & Bucks

Fraud MP Margaret Moran given supervision order

Margaret Moran
Image caption Moran could yet face action to recover the money she gained fraudulently

Former MP Margaret Moran has been given a two-year supervision order by a court after falsely claiming more than £53,000 in expenses.

A judge had ruled the ex-Labour MP for Luton South was unfit to stand trial for mental health reasons and so could not receive a criminal conviction.

The jury heard the case at Southwark Crown Court in November in her absence.

It found she had committed 15 counts of false accounting and six other charges relating to forged invoices.

Moran, who lives in St Denys, Southampton, served in the Commons between 1997 and 2010.

Dry rot claim

She was found to have falsely claimed about £60,000 in parliamentary expenses between 2004 and 2008, of which she received £53,000.

She claimed nearly her entire annual allowance in one bogus expense entry and forged invoices for more than £20,000 of non-existent goods and services.

The court had heard that she was able to make a dry rot claim of £22,500 by "flipping" her two homes - changing which property was listed as her second home and therefore allowing her to claim expenses for its upkeep.

Her claims were the largest amount uncovered in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal.

Moran was not present at Southwark Crown Court to hear Mr Justice Saunders make the ruling.

"There will inevitably be feelings among some that Mrs Moran has got away with it," he said.

"What the court has done and has to do is to act in accordance with the law of the land and on the basis of the evidence that it hears.

"The findings of the court were not convictions. Those findings enable me to make orders requiring her to undergo treatment for her mental health."

The order is to be supervised by Southampton City Council.

'Stigma of treatment'

The judge said Moran would be under the supervision of a council mental health social worker and would be treated by Dr Simon Kelly, from the Priory Hospital in Southampton, with a view to the improvement of her medical condition.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said the judge had made the "right decision", but added that depression was not an excuse for "losing all moral judgement".

"There is no point in her joining the two-thirds of people in prison who suffer two or more mental disorders," she said.

"It would be right if Ms Moran were to pay back the monies to the taxpayer but not right that she should be in prison.

"We trust that she will continue to receive psychiatric care. Contrary to many people's perceptions, such is the stigma of psychiatric treatment it is not always considered the softer option."

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was still determining whether any action will be taken to recover the money fraudulently gained by Moran.

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