Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ex-MP Locked-Up for 'Blatant Dishonesty' Morley Given 16 Months in Jail for Fraud

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ex-MP Locked-Up for 'Blatant Dishonesty' Morley Given 16 Months in Jail for Fraud

Article excerpt

Byline: Liam Creedon; Alex Diaz

EXPENSES cheat Elliot Morley was branded blatantly dishonest as he was jailed for claiming thousands of pounds in bogus mortgage payments.

Morley, 58, is the first former minister to be jailed for fiddling his expenses.

The former Labour environment minister pleaded guilty last month to claiming more than pounds 30,000 in the scam. The sum is the largest claimed by any of the politicians so far convicted over the expenses scandal.

Sentencing Morley to 16 months imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court, Mr Justice Saunders said he was guilty of "blatant dishonesty" and had "thrown away his good name and character".

Morley previously entered two guilty pleas for false accounting relating to his home in Winterton, near Scunthorpe, between 2004 and 2007.

He pocketed just over pounds 30,000 by claiming for a phantom mortgage and inflating the amount he was previously paying. In total, he claimed pounds 16,800 on a bogus mortgage and pounds 15,200 after inflating the amount he was previously paying - for which he should have been entitled to only pounds 1,572.

Mr Justice Saunders said: "I am satisfied from the nature of the mortgage transactions and the correspondence that the excessive claims were made deliberately and are not explicable even in part by oversight."

The prosecution overshadows 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.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said Morley had "engaged in the wholesale abuse of the expenses system". …

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