Sunday, 22 May 2011
THEIF, FRAUDSTER, CONMAN, PRISONER, EX RSPCA VICE PRESIDENT
The former MP for Scunthorpe, who falsely claimed more than £30,000 for a so-called phantom mortgage, became the first former minister to be sent to prison for the expenses scandal which rocked the British political establishment in 2008 and 2009.
The 58-year-old followed his former Labour colleagues ex-Livingston MP Jim Devine and ex-Bury North MP David Chaytor into prison, as well as Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick.
The former Labour environment minister, who was once also a teacher, pleaded guilty last month to claiming more than £30,000 in the scam.
It was the largest claimed by any of the politicians so far convicted over the expenses scandal.
Sentencing Morley to 16 months' imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court yesterday, Mr Justice Saunders said he was guilty of "blatant dishonesty".
Morley previously entered two guilty pleas for false accounting relating to his home in Winterton, near Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, between 2004 and 2007.
In total, he claimed £16,800 on a bogus mortgage and £15,200 after inflating the amount he was previously paying - for which he should have been entitled to only £1,572.
Mr Justice Saunders said: "I am satisfied from the nature of the mortgage transactions and the correspondence that the excessive claims were made deliberately and are not explicable even in part by oversight."
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said Morley had "engaged in the wholesale abuse of the expenses system".
The packed courtroom heard that between May 2004 and November 2007, Morley claimed significantly more than the value of his mortgage on his second home.
In that period he submitted 19 claims for "excessive mortgage payments" to which he was not entitled, worth £15,200.
Despite paying off the mortgage for the property in 2006, he continued to claim £800 a month in fraudulent payments.
Between March 2006 and November 2007 he submitted 21 second-home allowance forms totalling £16,800 for payments on a mortgage that did not exist.
Mr Justice Saunders said: "The continuation of the claim for £800 a month after the mortgage had been redeemed can properly be described as blatant dishonesty.