Expenses fraud ex-MP Elliot Morley freed from jail

Elliot Morley
Image caption Former Scunthorpe MP Elliot Morley was a government minister under Tony Blair

Former environment minister Elliot Morley has been freed from prison after serving a quarter of his 16-month sentence for fiddling his expenses.

Morley was jailed in May for claiming £32,000 in bogus mortgage payments relating to his home in Winterton, near Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire.

The 59-year-old was the first former minister to be jailed in the parliamentary expenses scandal.

He was released from Ford open prison, near Arundel, West Sussex, on Tuesday.

He joins three other former Labour MPs - David Chaytor, Eric Illsley and Jim Devine - and two former Tory peers - Lord Taylor and Lord Hanningfield - who have already been released after serving time behind bars for their role in the fraud.

'Wholesale abuse'

In total, Morley claimed £16,800 on a bogus mortgage and £15,200 after inflating the amount he was previously paying - for which he should have been entitled to only £1,572.

It is understood that he was freed under the home detention curfew scheme, which allows prisoners who pose a low risk to be tagged and released early after serving at least a quarter of their sentence.

Sentencing Morley at Southwark Crown Court, Mr Justice Saunders said he was guilty of "blatant dishonesty" and had "thrown away his good name and character".

The court was told that Morley had "engaged in the wholesale abuse of the expenses system".

The prosecution overshadowed a political career lasting more than 20 years.

As MP for Scunthorpe from 1987 to 2010, former teacher Morley was one of Labour's most prominent voices on agricultural issues and the environment.

He was party spokesman on rural affairs and animal welfare from 1989 until the 1997 election victory, and served under Tony Blair as environment minister from 2003 to 2006.

But during that time he was claiming thousands of pounds more than any of the other MPs convicted.

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