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Mps Claim They Are Above The Law In Expenses Fraud Case


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Three Labour MPs being investigated for expenses fraud are arguing that they should not be prosecuted because their suspect claims are covered by parliamentary privilege.

The MPs have hired legal experts to assert that the 1689 Bill of Rights protects them from prosecution.

snip.....

Two members, Elliot Morley and David Chaytor, are being investigated by the Metropolitan police over allegations that they received taxpayers’ money for non-existent mortgages on second homes.

Chaytor is also alleged to have paid allowance money to his daughter, who used a different surname.

The third MP facing prosecution, Jim Devine, is alleged to have submitted a claim for £2,157 for rewiring his London flat using a receipt bearing a bogus Vat number. All three are using Steel & Shamash, the Labour party’s solicitors, to represent them, although the costs are being met by the MPs themselves.

snip.....

The question of whether the prosecution of the MPs is unlawful revolves around interpretation of article nine of the 1689 Bill of Rights, which states: “Proceedings in parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6974024.ece

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The question of whether the prosecution of the MPs is unlawful revolves around interpretation of article nine of the 1689 Bill of Rights, which states: "Proceedings in parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court."

Does assassination count as a "proceeding"? B)

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Does assassination count as a "proceeding"? B)

I'm not sure.... ask Steel & Shamash......

I didn't know we had an active Bill of Rights.... apart from the Magna Carta.... I really, really wish I'd been a bit more into History at School.....

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It looks like Labour have worked out that this is a good election to lose.

What next, Cameron denouncing himself as a disciple of the dark lord of Chaos, or Brown sticking two pencils up his nose, his pants on his head and proclaiming "Wibble" to a packed press conference?

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It looks like Labour have worked out that this is a good election to lose.

What next, Cameron denouncing himself as a disciple of the dark lord of Chaos, or Brown sticking two pencils up his nose, his pants on his head and proclaiming "Wibble" to a packed press conference?

If cameron announced that he was the Dark Lord of Chaos, the general populous would fall about laughing. He's the biggest wimp we've seen in UK politics since john major.

Edited by Dubai
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The question of whether the prosecution of the MPs is unlawful revolves around interpretation of article nine of the 1689 Bill of Rights, which states: “Proceedings in parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court.”[/i]

Surely the law takes precedent over proceedings in parliament?

There are so many laws in this country they must have broken at least one of them with all this foul play, unless of course they've 'forgotten' to legislate against such behaviour.

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Three Labour MPs being investigated for expenses fraud are arguing that they should not be prosecuted because their suspect claims are covered by parliamentary privilege.

The MPs have hired legal experts to assert that the 1689 Bill of Rights protects them from prosecution.

snip.....

Two members, Elliot Morley and David Chaytor, are being investigated by the Metropolitan police over allegations that they received taxpayers’ money for non-existent mortgages on second homes.

Chaytor is also alleged to have paid allowance money to his daughter, who used a different surname.

The third MP facing prosecution, Jim Devine, is alleged to have submitted a claim for £2,157 for rewiring his London flat using a receipt bearing a bogus Vat number. All three are using Steel & Shamash, the Labour party’s solicitors, to represent them, although the costs are being met by the MPs themselves.

snip.....

The question of whether the prosecution of the MPs is unlawful revolves around interpretation of article nine of the 1689 Bill of Rights, which states: “Proceedings in parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court.”

Wriggle wriggle

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6974024.ece

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But they are above the law if only 3 MP's are being investigated when 100's where caught with their knickers down.

Did the BBC forget to mention Ian Tomlinson so you have forgot to think about it or is your mind thursands of miles away in Iran as you contemplate how we should go about bringing them some of our democracy.

Edited by Justice
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I'm not sure.... ask Steel & Shamash......

I didn't know we had an active Bill of Rights.... apart from the Magna Carta.... I really, really wish I'd been a bit more into History at School.....

the bill of rights was put in before parliament existed,and cannot be amended or repealed.It was part of the contract to give people certain protections from either an overbearing monarch or overbearing body politic.

...although parliament would like you to believe otherwise......that's why we get the fabian tip-toe erosion of these rights so slowly(over centuries in fact) that nobody notices.

the fabians have just decided to speed things up,and the sheep have noticed.

PS.I wonder what penalties there are for misrepresentation of the public under old acts such as this.

I would suspect they would be rather stiff.

Seems quite interesting there are approximately 300 year time gaps between new bills of representation

magna carta in 1245

bill of rights 1689

so we are definitely due for another one about now......what we are witnessing is the power struggle between the haves and have nots.....and it is likely to be very messy,the have nots will win eventually but it'll be a slog.

Edited by oracle
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I'm not sure.... ask Steel & Shamash......

I didn't know we had an active Bill of Rights.... apart from the Magna Carta.... I really, really wish I'd been a bit more into History at School.....

The intention of the 1689 Bill of Rights was to entrench the power of Parliament and curb the power of the King after the tyrannical excesses of James II. It deals with Parliamentary rights, not individual rights, like the American one.

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The intention of the 1689 Bill of Rights was to entrench the power of Parliament and curb the power of the King after the tyrannical excesses of James II. It deals with Parliamentary rights, not individual rights, like the American one.

Well said. I dont think that the intention of these rights was ever to allow MP's to commit fraud at the expense of the taxpayer, safe in the knowledge of immunity from prosecution.

Protection from abuse of the Power of the Sovereign seems to be a fair enough privilege, as does the freedom to speak in Parliament to say what you feel is right, without fear of being sued.

But fiddling expenses? How can anyone say that is a Parliamentary privilege?

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But fiddling expenses? How can anyone say that is a Parliamentary privilege?

When, like Morley and Chaytor, they're not standing for elected office again (either voluntarily or because they've been deselected) and therefore have absolutely nothing to lose by trying. If anyone who was seeking re-election tried this stunt they would find out what the public thought about it soon enough. But for those who aren't, it probably seems worth a shot to avoid the possibility of a trial or worse.

The interesting thing will be if the CPS decide to prosecute an MP who is seeking re-election. If they try to cite Parliamentary immunity to get out of it, I'd be astonished.

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Interesting stuff.

Wonder if its possible to take Gordon Brown etc to court and prosecute them under some law or other for mismanagement and theft from public finances? Or if not personally, the government itself...

I would be willing to chip in a few quid towards that - suspect a large proportion of the country would too.

Cheers

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Malfeasance in public office?

The Crown Prosecution Service guidelines on this offence[3] say that the elements of the offence are when:

  1. A public officer acting as such.
  2. Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself.
  3. To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder.[4]
  4. Without reasonable excuse or justification.

Gordo qualifies under 1 alright.

You could argue that the extent of the public sector debt he presided over the accrual of as Chancellor and PM ticks the 'wilfully misconducts himself ... to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust' - especially as he repeatedly asked for the public's trust in his abilities for financial prudence.

4 - compare with other countries.

Edited by The Ayatollah Buggeri
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Surely the law takes precedent over proceedings in parliament?

Proceedings definitely have immunity (famously, from libel) but what is a proceeding?

DEFINITIONS OF `PROCEEDINGS IN PARLIAMENT'

(a) Definition of `Proceedings in Parliament' proposed by the Joint Committee on the Publication of Proceedings in Parliament, 1970[428]:

1. (1) For the purpose of the defence of absolute privilege in an action or prosecution for defamation the expression "proceedings in Parliament" shall without prejudice to the generality thereof include:

(a) all things said done or written by a Member or by any Officer of either House of Parliament or by any person ordered or authorised to attend before such House, in or in the presence of such House and in the course of a sitting of such House, and for the purpose of the business being or about to be transacted, wherever such sitting may be held and whether or not it be held in the presence of strangers to such House: provided that for the purpose aforesaid the expression "House" shall be deemed to include any Committee sub-Committee or other group or body of Members or Members and Officers of either House of Parliament appointed by or with the authority of such House for the purpose of carrying out any of the functions of or of representing such House; and

(B) all things said done or written between Members or between Members and Officers of either House of Parliament or between Members and Ministers of the Crown for the purpose of enabling any Member or any such Officer to carry out his functions as such provided that publication thereof be not wider than is reasonably necessary for that purpose.

(2) In this section "Member" means a Member of either House of Parliament; and "Officer of either House of Parliament" means any person not being a Member whose duties require him from time to time to participate in proceedings in Parliament as herein defined.

I guess they may be relying on one or other or both of the bolded bits. But it doesn't pass a "reasonable man" test.

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Proceedings definitely have immunity (famously, from libel) but what is a proceeding?

I guess they may be relying on one or other or both of the bolded bits. But it doesn't pass a "reasonable man" test.

Yeah, but

1. (1) For the purpose of the defence of absolute privilege in an action or prosecution for defamation the expression "proceedings in Parliament" shall without prejudice to the generality thereof include:

Thought fraud was the charge, not defamation?

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I bet the lawyers fees are put through on expenses too.

in regards to the above quote from law, the expenses were not privileged to the Parliament in that they were made PUBLIC by the Parliament.

claiming expenses has nothing to do with speach....saying the claims were fraudulant is a defamation however.

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I'm not sure.... ask Steel & Shamash......

I didn't know we had an active Bill of Rights.... apart from the Magna Carta.... I really, really wish I'd been a bit more into History at School.....

If we still have an active Bill of Rights, then we can't have a Lisbon Treaty (BoR and MC are supreme)... Nulab really need to pick a side and stick to it!

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Well said. I dont think that the intention of these rights was ever to allow MP's to commit fraud at the expense of the taxpayer, safe in the knowledge of immunity from prosecution.

Protection from abuse of the Power of the Sovereign seems to be a fair enough privilege, as does the freedom to speak in Parliament to say what you feel is right, without fear of being sued.

well seeing as they are so into hi-tech surveiilance and snooping on people,I have a suggestion.

1)MP's get a moderate salary,in keeping with say standard middle management(£)40-60k...fair enough.

2)upon election,they will be granted a crown-owned office suite and domicile....to be reqcuisitined and re-used upon de-selection.

3)Expenses debit cards will be issued to all MP's,with all bills fully itemised and publicly declared(anything unsavoury will have to come out of their own pockets)

4)no backhanders or corporate sweeteners of any kind will be allowed....penalty of immediate de-selection/by election

5)deliberate malevolence of office punishable by jail(or maybe stiffer depending upon severity).upon release no further public office may be held.

6)upon de-selection it will be strictly forbidden to enter professions involved with directorship/consultancy roles for a period of 2 years

7)after dinner circuits treated as in 6)

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Thought fraud was the charge, not defamation?

True. This Parliamentary Report is perhaps more illuminating; it offers a fuller quotation from the Bill of Rights:

"freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament"

the Times article just said "Proceedings..." which IMO puts a different spin from the fuller version.

also...

"Interpretation of the Bill of Rights, as of any other statute, is a matter for the courts."

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