Conservative MP fined £1.5k over false expenses invoices

Conservative MP fined £1.5k over false expenses invoices

Tory MP Christopher Davies has been fined £1,500 over false expenses invoices.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Conservative MP Christopher Davies has been fined £1,500 and ordered to carry out 50 hours of community service after submitting two false expenses invoices for landscape photographs to decorate his new office.

The Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire showed no emotion as he was handed the sentence by Mr Justice Edis at Southwark Crown Court in central London.

The 51-year-old was told he had committed "two very serious offences" which were "absolutely intended to deceive" when he appeared before magistrates last month to admit two charges of attempting to provide false or misleading information for an allowance claim.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Edis said: "It seems shocking that when confronted with a simple accounting problem, you thought to forge documents.

"That is an extraordinary thing for a man with your position and your background to do."

The two charges related to the period when Davies was setting up his constituency office following the 2015 general election.

He had contacted a photographer in his constituency and bought nine images from him to decorate and display in his constituency office, using his own money to pay the £700 for them initially.

There were two budgets available to him, the Start Up Costs Budget - for office furniture and IT equipment - and the Office Costs Budget, both of which he could claim the full amount from.

But Philip Stott, prosecuting, revealed Davies found in February 2016 that only £476.02 was left in the Start Up Costs Budget, with £8,303.75 remaining in the other.

He then created two fake invoices, so the £700 cost could be split between the two budgets - £450 to the Start Up and £250 for the other.

Defending, Thomas Forster QC said his client - a 51-year-old father of two school-age children - was in a "privileged position" as an MP, but that his offending was a mistake rather than a "return to the bad old days" of "maxing out expenses accounts".

He said: "There is a very real likelihood that his political career is in tatters.

"This is a tragically disastrous set of circumstances to which I accept he is the author.

"It is not a financial cost, it is a harm to the integrity of parliament."

Prosecuting, Mr Stott said it was accepted that Davies had not sought to profit financially from the action and that he was entitled to claim for the pictures.

However, he said Davies was not entitled to split the costs across two budgets, and said any claims had to be accompanied by genuine invoices.

He served as parliamentary private secretary to the Wales Office from January to July 2018.

Before entering politics, he worked as a rural auctioneer, an estate agent and also managed a mixed veterinary practice in Hay-on-Wye.

Under parliamentary rules, Davies does not automatically lose his seat as an MP because his sentence was less than the 12-month minimum.

Read more

Tory MP admits submitting false expenses invoices

‘Yellow vest’ protester James Goddard pleads not guilty to harassing MP Anna Soubry