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British Lord Found Guilty of Fraud

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TEHRAN, May 28 (ICANA) - A Conservative member of Britain's House of Lords has been convicted of fraud and faces a jail term over claiming £14,000 in false expenses.
Saturday, May 28, 2011 4:15:46 PM
British Lord Found Guilty of Fraud

Chelmsford Crown Court found Lord Hanningfield guilty on six account of fiddling his parliamentary expenses, including false claims for overnight stays, mileage, and train fares.

The charges stem from a series of expenses claims for overnight stays in London between March 2006 and April 2009, while prosecutor Clare Montgomery QC said Lord Hanningfield "never stayed in London at any stage during the period of the charges."

The 70-year-old former Tory frontbencher did not dispute the allegations but denied fraud, saying he had made the claims in good faith and only "averaged them out" because of total expenditure.

The British lord will be sentenced in three weeks' time.

"I am devastated, but I have no regrets. I did nothing wrong," Lord Hanningfield said as he left court.

Prosecutor Montgomery said in her closing argument there was nothing in his behavior to suggest he honestly believed he was entitled to the cash.

He had even claimed false travel expenses to further the deception, she argued.

"It was a deliberate and dishonest decision on his part to fill in the forms in that way. If he couldn't afford to be a peer, the answer was not to make up false claims -- the answer was to stop doing the job," added the prosecutor.

Lord Hanningfield was promoted to the Tory frontbench in 2003 and held a series of posts until he faced accusations over his claims. He served as a Conservative transport spokesman as well as the leader of Essex County Council.

His case is the latest in a series of scandals that have rocked the UK's political scene with dozens of officials involved in false expense claims or other types of fraud.

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