By Martin Kelly
A former Labour MP who falsely claimed over £50,000 in expenses will escape a prison sentence after being diagnosed with depression.
Margaret Moran was found to have fiddled £53,000 by submitting bogus invoices. Between 2004 and 2008 when Labour MP for Luton, Moran claimed thousands in public cash by submitted forged invoices for non-existent goods and services.
Moran tried to claim even more cash, but had claims worth £7,000 rejected.
Moran, who served as MP for Luton South from 1997 until the 2010 election, was found to have falsely claimed around £60,000 in parliamentary expenses, of which she received £53,000.
The former Labour MP was arrested in 2010 after a former aide contacted the police following the MPs expenses scandal.
Moran, like many other MPs including former Chancellor Alistair Darling, was able to submit the claims for repairs after she “flipped” her designated second home, making claims for properties in London, Luton and Southampton. However, during an investigation into the Labour MP’s claims it emerged she had claimed £22,500 for dry rot at her second home, but had instead used the cash for “home improvements”.
Moran was also discovered to have claimed almost £15,000 for conservatory work and for repairs to her boiler, but the invoice was found to have been forged. A claim for £4000 saw the Labour MP use the address of an elderly couple, claiming it was a building firm.
She also claimed £2000 for a non-existent phone line and also claimed for carpets for three bedrooms despite only having one.
The disgraced former MP escaped a criminal record and a prison sentence after being diagnosed with ‘mental health problems’, she is believed to be receiving treatment at home for the condition.
Moran’s fraudulent total of £53,000 is higher than the previous record, which was also claimed by a Labour MP. Former Labour minister Elliot Morley was jailed last year for dishonestly claiming more than £30,000 in parliamentary expenses.
Moran is the latest in a long list of Labour MPs to have been caught fiddling parliamentary expenses. MPs Elliot Morley, David Chaytor, Eric Illsley and Jim Devine were all jailed for submitting bogus claims.
Last month Labour MP Denis MacShane had to resign his seat following revelations that he too had fiddled his parliamentary expenses. The former Cabinet Minister quit as MP for Rotherham after it emerged he had submitted 19 false invoices in order to obtain thousands of pounds of public cash.
The former Labour minister had escaped prosecution in July this year on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service. Conservative MP Philip Davies claimed a new report from the Standards Committee represented new evidence and called for the case to be re-opened.
However, there is speculation that the former Labour MP, and ex-BBC reporter, may escape prosecution due to parliamentary privilege rules which forbid letters, in which he admits falsely claiming the cash, from being used as evidence.