Ex-Tory peer Lord Hanningfield cleared of false expenses charges, after judge deems it a matter for parliament

 
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The matter was deemed not to be one for the courts (Source: Getty)

Former Tory peer Lord Hanningfield was acquitted of false accounting charges today, after a judge decided it was a matter for parliament.

The 75-year-old Hanningfield, whose given name is Paul White, had been accused of falsely submitting expense claims for his daily allowance from the House of Lords.

Hanningfield had been due to stand trial at Southwark Crown Court. However, the prosecution chose to offer no evidence against him, as it became apparent last Friday parliament was exercising its right to treat the matter as being in its jurisdiction.

Instead, the prosecution asked the judge to decide whether the issue should be one determined in the courts or in parliament.

In deciding the case was one for parliament, Judge Alistair McCreath is reported to have said: "The criminal courts in this country do not have jurisdiction over every alleged criminal wrongdoing."

McCreath added: "It is manifestly impossible for the Crown to present their case without requiring the jury to receive evidence on the topic of, and make a determination of, what is and is not parliamentary work."

It was alleged Hanningfield wrongly asked for around £3,300 in expenses in July 2013, after he submitted a claim for his £300 daily allowance on 11 days where he had carried out no parliamentary duties.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson said: "Following new information received on 15 July regarding the court's ability to consider what constitutes the definition of parliamentary work, a decision was made to offer no evidence."

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