Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Parliamentary Privilege and the expenses claims

The Supreme Court of the U.K. has ruled that parliamentary privilege does not protect David Chaytor, Eliot Morley and Jim Devine from being tried in the Crown Court in relation to expenses claims they submitted to the parliamentary authorities.  The court's reasoned judgment is to be published later.  See Supreme Court announcement and  The Independent 10th November.

The Solicitors Journal also covers this story.

Law and Lawyers has previously looked at this case.  Please see "Parliamentary Privilege and the expenses claims - 9th February 2010" and, most recently, "A world apart from ordinary justice - almost a parallel universe - 20th October."

A great deal has been made of this case and, no doubt, considerable amounts of money have been spent.  The Supreme Court has reached a sensible, and with the greatest of respect, obvious ruling which is in line with common sense.  Parliamentary Privilege has the purpose of protecting members in relation to what they do in debate and in parliamentary committees.  It is understood that the men received legal aid - see BBC 12th April.  This was granted before "means testing" was introduced into Crown Court legal aid.  Costs to date are likely to be in the region of £3m.

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