Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

Three Labour MPs, Mr Elliot Morley, Mr David Chaytor and Mr Jim Devine, and a Conservative peer, Lord Hanningfield, were charged with false accounting under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 with regard to claims for parliamentary expenses. Lawyers for the MPs let it be known that they might claim immunity from prosecution under parliamentary privilege guaranteed by the Bill of Rights 1689.

Mr David Cameron said that he had asked Sir George Young, the shadow leader of the House, to draft a Parliamentary Privilege Bill to clarify matters. Lord Hanningfield was quickly suspended from the parliamentary Conservative party and stood down as leader of Essex County Council. Three days later the MPs were suspended from the parliamentary Labour party. The prosecutions had come a day after Sir Thomas Legg, the retired civil servant entrusted with examining claims relating to second-homes allowances made by MPs between 2004 and 2008, ordered 390 MPs to pay back expenses totalling £1.12 million. Sir Thomas's review cost £1.16 million to undertake. More than 150 MPs no longer intend to stand at the next election. A pressure group pointed out that, according to the Council of Europe, the general election would be unlawful unless prisoners were allowed to vote. Mr Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, was said to have forsworn his habitual four Kit-Kats a day in favour of nine bananas.

Commander Ali Dizaei of the Metropolitan Police was sentenced to four years for assaulting and falsely arresting a man who had asked to be paid for doing work on his website. A man was arrested on suspicion of murdering Police Constable Keith Blakelock during the Broadwater Farm Riots in Tottenham, London, in 1985.

Mr John Terry was sacked as captain of the England football team by Mr Fabio Capello, its manager, amid accusations of adultery.

Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist party said they had reached agreement over the devolution of justice powers to the province, with the post of justice minister to go to a candidate outside the two parties. Britain is to take part in a new Nato offensive in Helmand, news of which sent thousands fleeing their villages. 'This is not a safe environment, ' remarked Mr Bob Ainsworth, the Secretary of State for Defence, warning of more casualties. The National Audit Office said that hospitals in Afghanistan and Britain were under pressure from the large number of troops injured in Helmand province. The number of British servicemen who have died in Afghanistan since 2001 overtook the 255 killed in the Falklands campaign. …

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