Saturday, February 06, 2010

1689 Bill of Rights invoked by fraud MPs

The three Labour MPs who have been charged with theft over fraudulent expense claims have declared that they are above the law and will fight attempts to put them on trial.

Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine each face up to seven years in jail after Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, announced that he was charging them under the Theft Act 1968. Lord Hanningfield, the Tory frontbencher and leader of Essex County Council, faces six charges over his expense claims.

In a joint statement, the three MPs announced that they would fight the charges by claiming parliamentary privilege over their expense claims. It said: “We maintain that this is an issue that should be resolved by the parliamentary commissioner, who is there to enforce any breach of the rules.”

The four are charged as follows:

Elliot Morley
The former Agriculture Minister and Labour MP for Scunthorpe faces two counts under the Theft Act 1968 of dishonestly claiming expenses. The first count alleges that between April 2004 and February 2006, Mr Morley dishonestly claimed mortgage expenses of £14,428 for a house in Winterton, Lincolnshire. The second count alleges that between March 2006 and November 2007 Mr Morley dishonestly claimed mortgage expenses of £16,000 for the same property when there was no longer a mortgage on that property.

David Chaytor
The Bury North MP faces three charges under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 for false accounting. The first count alleges that in May 2006 Mr Chaytor dishonestly claimed £1,950 for computer services by using false invoices. The second count alleges that between September 2005 and September 2006 Mr Chaytor dishonestly claimed £12,925 for renting a property in Regency Street, London, when he was in fact its owner. The third charge alleges that between September 2007 and January 2008 Mr Chaytor dishonestly claimed £5,425, purportedly for renting a property in Bury, Lancashire, from his mother.

Jim Devine
The Livingston MP faces two charges under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 for false accounting. The first count alleges that between July 2008 and April 2009 Mr Devine dishonestly claimed £3,240 for cleaning services using false invoices. The second count alleges that in March 2009 Mr Devine dishonestly claimed £5,505 for stationery using false invoices.

Lord Hanningfield
The Conservative Peer, who is also leader of Essex County Council, faces six charges under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 for false accounting. The charges allege that between March 2006 and May 2009, he dishonestly submitted claims for expenses to which he knew he was not entitled. The allegations focus on numerous claims for overnight expenses for staying in London when records show he was driven home and did not stay in the capital.

Cranmer understands that none of the four have been arrested.

It’s one rule for them...

None of the four have been finger-printed or had DNA samples taken.

It’s one rule for them...

And they are appealing against any trial by claiming their right to parliamentary privilege accorded them by virtue of the Bill of Rights 1689.

As a result of the conflict between Parliament and James II, Parliament issued the Declaration of Rights in 1689. Article 9 of the Declaration was a response to the case of William Williams and other similar cases:

Whereas the late King James the Second, by the assistance of divers evil counsellors, judges, and ministers employed by him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant religion and the laws and liberties of the kingdom ...

By prosecutions in the Court of King’s Bench for matters and causes cognisable only in parliament; and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses ...

And thereupon the said lords spiritual and temporal and Commons ... do in the first place (as their ancestors in like cases have usually done) for the vindicating and asserting their ancient rights and liberties, declare:
9. That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament.

Yet we ordinary souls have no such appeal when it comes to invoking our rights.

Could someone please explain to His Grace why Article 9 may be invoked by Members of Parliament to assert their privilege, yet subjects of Her Majesty may not invoke the following provision of the Bill of Rights in relation to their sovereignty?

And I do declare that no Foreign Prince Person Prelate, State or Potentate hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction Power Superiority Preeminence or Authority Ecclesiastical or Spiritual within this Realm So help me God.

Or is it just another case of 'one rule for them'?


Blogger John.D said...

I don't see how Article 9 applies because it says "proceedings in parliament". And in any case if an MP was to unload a machine gun during PMQ's, I am sure there is a law somewhere that leaves him/her open to prosecution.

6 February 2010 at 11:02  
Anonymous graham wood said...

If these "honourable" gentlemen are capable of distorting one of our great Constitutional documents to serve their selfish ends in these circumstances, then it must be an act of total desperation on their part. It won't wash, and they dig themselves into an even deeper hole.
The intention of the B of R was to secure, for ever, the rights and freedoms of our nation (then England), not to protect criminals from the arm of the law.
How ironic therefore that these loathsome people whilst in Parliament have rejected with contempt all appeals WE have made to our own Constitution for years to preserve our national heritage, customs, laws, and above all political independence.
But when it comes to the saving of their own miserable hides in order to retain their ill gotten gains, the nasty hypocrites run to the Bill of Rights for protection.
The irony must be self evident.

Perhaps they should consider becoming "religious" before their trial?.
It may be that would offer a folorn hope that the trial judge,like our beloved Cherie Blair, will recommend leniency on those grounds as you have recently posted.
I think not!

6 February 2010 at 11:10  
Blogger John.D said...

I have just read that Cressida Dick is in charge of the investigation. I am not sure if this is a good thing or not, but several shots at point blank range to the head seems like a fitting end to these bastards to me.

6 February 2010 at 11:31  
Blogger John.D said...

Maybe the arresting officer could be Sgt Delrot Smelly wading in with a couple of backhanders and his telescopic bludgeon.

6 February 2010 at 11:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course if the scum were to win by using this act , it would make it possible for us mere peaseants to use the same act .
Oops sorry I for a moment thought we had a fair system not the "one law for them and another for us " system we actually have.

Regards ray

6 February 2010 at 11:37  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

Your Grace,

'One rule for them'

It would be a little naive to think that it hasn't always been thus and will always be. The less privileged one is, the more one notices.

6 February 2010 at 11:48  
Blogger IanPJ said...

Watch how the media & politicians will whip up public opinion, to be against the 1689 Bill of Rights,.. to make way for the Straw/Cameron NEW Bill of Rights which will make us all responsible to and beholding to the state, rather than protecting us from it.

6 February 2010 at 12:59  
Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

John.D 11:02 "I don't see how Article 9 applies because it says "proceedings in parliament...."

Herr D hat recht

The expression "proceedings on Parliament" CANNOT include the act of obtaining property by deception by lodging a fraudulent and dishonest expenses claim

.... unless we are now living in the "Alice in Wonderland" World of the Lunatic

6 February 2010 at 13:00  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

If this is upheld, presumably it gives them freedom to commit murder, provided that they do it within the House. Perhaps a Labour MP might now decide that there's a quicker way of getting rid of Gordon than waiting for him to resign!

6 February 2010 at 13:24  
Blogger I am Stan said...

Yo your Grace,

I doubt a single one of them will stand in the dock never mind see the inside of a prison cell.

I hope I`m wrong!

6 February 2010 at 13:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two things spring to mind.

1) Claiming expenses and committing fraud aren't covered under the Bill of Rights.
a) At that time MPs didn't claim expenses.
b) Fraud isn't protected under the Bill of Rights for anyone, the right to speak freely is covered. Especially as the fraud wasn't part of the procedings of the house.

2) Isn't the Bill of Rights superceded by the Act of Union?


6 February 2010 at 14:07  
Anonymous Pat said...

I suspect that the Bill of Rights defense, if it is indeed put before a court, will fail as superseded by later legislation (no parliament may bind its successor).
However, should these gentlemen prove me wrong then they will have earned all the money they took- as that will make it clear that the whole Bill of Rights stands.

6 February 2010 at 14:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's open to interpretation, so maybe some masonic glitch could crack the jaw of justice and set them free. I mean after all they are men of politics which has to mean it was all a huge mistake.

6 February 2010 at 14:40  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Your Grace, I am suprised it is only 4 MPs......

6 February 2010 at 14:47  
Blogger John.D said...

In the same way that MPs are susceptible to speeding fines they are also not above the law when it comes to manufacturing fake claims. They say they should not face criminal law....why? It is one thing to claim every dam thing under the sun, but quite another to manufacture claims for things that have not existed. Fraud is a against the law and it is a crime of a serious nature. If these bastards will do this so blatantly in public office, then what on earth are we to trust them with at all? Can Mps ever be trusted if they are indeed above the law?

Are we to assume that once you post your leaflets through the doors of the electorate and they put their X by your name that you somehow transcend the capability to be dishonest? And is there not something about the very nature of Estate Agents, Bankers, Lawyers and MPs that requires that extra bit of protective legislation that we may not be at the mercy of their tyranny?

6 February 2010 at 14:55  
Anonymous no nonny said...

We nothings and nobodies need to get in touch with reality; we have a place and should should let our masters beat, grind, and kick us into it.

That's their euro-given job. If they need a little extra dosh to get it done ... well it's only reasonable and logical that they should take ours, isn't it?

6 February 2010 at 15:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is interesting! If it is proved that fraud and theft is not covered by Parliamentary Privelege, then my letters to the Foreign Secretary accusing him of the theft of my birthright by signing the Lisbon Treaty, which, so far, have only resulted in replies from a flunkey in the Europe Directorate stating that the Directorate leads on this matter, may now be applied to Gordon Brown, who also signed the Treaty and every M.P. who voted in favour and is therefore an accessory to the theft.
Let us see which M.P.s, who are willing to look to the Bill of Rights for an escape from prosecution in the Courts over expenses, will own up to the theft of every Englishman's birthright as set out in 1689 and subsequently.

6 February 2010 at 16:38  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

Even if these MP's get prosecuted and some possibly jailed, they will only be a token gesture when you take into account the behaviour of an awful lot of the others. I am referring to home flipping in particular.

6 February 2010 at 17:55  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

Is it their case that fraud and deception is part of the Honourable Members job description so as
as to fall within the Immunity of the Bill of Rights? I do not think it was intended to cover anything other than official duties.

And what happened to the Bill of Rights when they were authorising the searching of Damien Green Offices?

6 February 2010 at 18:05  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

I kid you not..

the word verification for the above post was "Resco"
which sounded familiar so I checked and ..

Antoin "Tony" Rezko (born July 1955) is a political fundraiser, restaurateur, and real estate developer in Chicago, Illinois, convicted on several counts of fraud and bribery in 2008

6 February 2010 at 18:08  
Blogger Gnostic said...

In the words of that upright EUReferendum bloke and no nonsense good egg, Dr Richard North: And the reason why we don't rise up and slaughter them all is...?

6 February 2010 at 18:57  
Blogger English Viking said...

I notice that these toe-rags have not had to suffer the indignity of arrest, or even a voluntary appearance at a Police Station, to be charged. Just a polite request, if they're not too busy and they wouldn't mind awfully just appearing at a court sometime suitable to themselves.

Why no DNA swabbing and fingerprinting? This is standard procedure for ANYONE else accused of any crime.

Once at a Police Station, one (or all) of them know... 'fall down the stairs'.

6 February 2010 at 19:38  
Blogger Alfred of Wessex said...

"John.D said 6 February 2010 11:31 ... I have just read that Cressida Dick is in charge of the investigation. I am not sure if this is a good thing or not, but several shots at point blank range to the head seems like a fitting end to these bastards to me."

Cressida Dick is a member of Common Purpose, the EU's secular freemasonry (google Common Purpose - there's plenty of information on their nefarious activities). Looks like ACPO have chosen a fox to clean out the chicken-coop.

6 February 2010 at 19:44  
Blogger OldSouth said...

These MPs assertion of privilege does not pass the laugh-out-loud test.

It's attempted from time to time in the US by the executive branch, asserting 'executive privilege' over any manner of criminal behaviors. Nixon tried to hide behind it, but was smoked out by Senators of his own party, as well as the court. Clinton attempted it again, and came close to being removed from office.

There is NO 'executive privilege' enumerated in our Constitution. The Framers deemed no person to be above the law.

In the end, the best medicine will be removal by the voters, and a year or two of being made to feel distinctly unwelcome in any store, pub or restaurant in their districts. Drinking alone is a lonely affair, I understand.

Prosecution is appropriate, and necessary.

If they are allowed to skate, the cynicism on the street will only grow and fester.

6 February 2010 at 21:46  
Blogger D. Singh said...

'And I do declare that no Foreign Prince Person Prelate, State or Potentate hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction Power Superiority Preeminence or Authority Ecclesiastical or Spiritual within this Realm So help me God.'

Because Parliament has the power to repeal any Act that imports EU legislation into domestic law.

6 February 2010 at 22:07  
Blogger Ingenieur said...

Much as I would like to see this gang of four banged up for their offences against the taxpayer, there may be a more effective route that will enable us to see justice done.

I refer to the extraordinary and quite draconian powers of HMRC, of which many struggling business people will have had painful experience. Unlike the ineffectual CPS these guys really have teeth.

They certainly would never be fobbed off by the pathetic excuse that the records in question had been accidentally shredded.

Once they have a suspicion of any financial impropriety by a tax-payer they are empowered to demand records going back many years, and to search through these in minute detail for evidence of any other transgressions. Upon finding same they are empowered to impose swingeing penalties entirely at their own discretion, without the tiresome necessity of going though the Courts.

They understand the principle enunciated by our Lord in Mt.25 that he who is faithful in small matters will be faithful in others - and vice verca.

In over 300 cases in Westminster there is already suffient prima-facie evidence of wrong-doing, to justify such investigations being launched.

Would anyone be surprised, if these enquiries were to unearth even greater instances of dis-honesty?


6 February 2010 at 23:29  
Blogger Don't Call Me Dave said...

If these crooks are trying to claim parliamentary privilege to escape prosecution, then parliament should pass a new law permanently revoking their pension entitlements and cancelling the “resettlement grant” that retiring MPs normally receive when they leave the Commons. Let’s see if they still accept the primacy of parliament then.

7 February 2010 at 00:42  
Anonymous not a machine said...

It has been said that the Labour partys own solcitor is putting this case forward .

My only comment is that freedom of speech is vastly different from freedom to fiddle the public purse.But if we are to use law from 1639 can the judge apply hang,drawn and quartering , just a passing thought.

Conservative home has done some excellent/enjoyable posts today which your grace found time to add to. Melancthon is developing an interesting line in "tolerance" whilst the CofE wrestles once more or delays gay ordination . Reductionist arguments may play well with the more scholarly , but do little for helping the wayward . In my own life repentence has unfolded other constructs which have put me in chains . Tolerance may not enable a person to lift there chains , yet intolerance does not often give the patience to remove the chains in a usefull/proper order. I ask this question if no plumb line how can one build? , if no distinction from good or bad how can you determine the safety of one work from another?.

Your grace may be interested in the head of the BBCs religous programming mr Asquil Ahamed news article that "The CofE is living in the past" , still what is 600yrs between prophets !

7 February 2010 at 02:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

It is good that our government’s attack on our ancient freedoms seems to cause our legislators some problems when caught with their hands in the public purse. The convenience of purporting to bend the Declaration of Rights of February 1688*, enacted as the Bill of Rights in October 1689, to their nefarious ends is contrary to their ambition to extinguish the ancient freedoms of the rest of the population. Doubtless that will not stop them using ancient freedoms for their defence while stripping us of the same: The Declaration of Rights also provides:

“That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are illegal and void”

But this seems not to deter our servants from issuing fixed penalties from parking fines to littering to theft of DNA with threats of violence to speeding fines and points, all without troubling the courts.

Nor can we remain silent; nor presume our innocence.

Nor expect to be tried by a jury of our peers:

‘ Lord Judge went on: "In this country, trial by jury is a hallowed principle of the administration of criminal justice. It is properly identified as a right, available to be exercised by a defendant unless and until the right is amended or circumscribed by express legislation." ‘

According to our legislators ‘hallowed principles’ and ‘rights’ are at the whim of our legislators.

So that’s alright then.


* The year changed on Easter Sunday.

7 February 2010 at 16:17  
Blogger adrian said...


Well spotted that man, that is exactly what this is about.

And while the ignorant masses wail about 18p bathplugs, Gordon Brown has handed them £1 Trillion pounds worth of promisary notes to be paid for from taxes on our collective labour.

This expenses scandal is the classic diversion, the real crime is the 1 TRILLION pounds worth of your wealth.

The British Constitution

7 February 2010 at 18:32  
Anonymous Ghengis Smith. said...

Four candles, wherein honest light burneth not, and whose wicks need much trimming.

Or a poor effort by the political classes to distract the voters from facts and policies.

7 February 2010 at 20:11  
Anonymous John Knox said...

Dear Cranmer,

This thing is blown out of proportion. The department and its clerks have failed miserably in requiring proper backup for claims and sifting through what was not legally allowed. It's Humpy Appleby and his consorts that are to a great extent responsible for not looking at this sooner. They should have done what they are doing now only under public pressure years ago as part of their normal duty and most of this embarrasment would have been prevented. In the meantime David Cameron is now also trying to please the homosexual lobby and its overrepresented contingents in the departments by cheaply criticizing the Church of England.
Cheaply, while he is an ignoramus on Bible and theology, at least compared to those involved with these questions in the Church. He knows better anyway and doesn't mind saying so when it suits his political strategy. He will need the cooperation of the Humpies when he takes office, so he doesn't mind paving the way by playing the busibody.

7 February 2010 at 23:15  
Anonymous len said...

Having been found fiddling the books these gentlemen haven`t the decency to come clean and own up but are invoking some vague law in the hope of hanging on to their ill gotten gains.
These gentlemen are bringing the rest of politicians down into the mire with them.

8 February 2010 at 00:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bill of Rights 1689 confers a safeguard for Member of Parliament to speak freely whilst within Parliament. It does not, and never has, offered a "protection" of any kind to Members of Parliament with regard to their finances, or criminal activities!

One has to enter the thoughts of Parliamentarians at the time that the Act was brought about - not the modern interpretation of it by twisting the context of the Act!

We could not have a better Investigator than Ms Dicks to see this through - She might have many failings (as indeed we all do) but this is not one of them!

9 February 2010 at 10:30  

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