Shamed ex-MP faces huge legal bill after ruling

A FORMER MP has been landed with a huge bill to repay legal aid and prosecution costs following his conviction for fiddling his Parliamentary expenses.

A judge at Southwark Crown Court ordered that David Chaytor, 62, former MP for Bury North, must pay £23,176 in prosecution costs.

He was also ordered to pay £23,036 in legal aid fees.

Former long-serving Calderdale councillor Chaytor, of Lumbutts, Todmorden, was sentenced to 18 months in jail in January after pleading guilty to false accounting totalling £18,350.

He admitted making claims for IT consultancy work for which he was not charged and renting two homes which were found to belong to himself and his mother.

Mr Justice Sanders also made rulings in the cases of three other former MPs who were caught up in the expenses scandal.

Elliot Morley, a former environment minister and ex-Scunthorpe MP, was jailed in May for fiddling his Parliamentary expenses to the tune of £30,000.

Morley, 59, of West Street, Winterton, Lincolnshire, must pay prosecution costs of £23,176. He was also ordered to pay £33,005 of legal aid fees.

Eric Illsley, ex-MP for Barnsley Central, received a 12-month sentence in February for £14,500-worth of fraudulent expenses relating to claims made for his second home between 2005 and 2008.

Illsley, 56, of Westmoor Crescent, Pogmoor, Barnsley, was ordered to pay £12,178 in prosecution costs. He must also pay £10,909 in legal aid fees.

Mr Justice Saunders said in his ruling: “At a time when there is concern at the size of legal aid expenditure, there is no reason in principle why the taxpayer should pay for the legal representation of people who can afford to pay for themselves.”

No orders were made against Jim Devine, 58, former Labour MP for Livingston, after the court was told that he was bankrupt.

“In the case of Devine different considerations apply. He is bankrupt,” Mr Justice Saunders said.

“It seems unlikely that he will have anything left by the time all his debts are paid off.”

Devine, of West Main Street, Bathgate, West Lothian, was jailed for 16 months in May for submitting false invoices totalling £8,385 between 2008 and 2009.

All four former MPs have since been released under the home detention curfew scheme. None of them were present for the hearing.

Chaytor was a major player in the Calderdale political scene in the 1980s and 1990s.

When he was jailed in January, his lawyer James Sturman QC said he had paid a “devastating price for stupidity” and the case had left Chaytor a “broken man”.