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Former MP goes to jail for fiddling expenses

SHAMED former Labour MP David Chaytor began an 18-month jail sentence last night after admitting that he fiddled his parliamentary expenses.

Chaytor (61) forged tenancy documents and invoices to falsely claim more than £22,000 (€26,500) of taxpayers' money for rent and IT work from the Commons authorities.

He is the first ex-MP to be jailed since Tory peer Lord Archer received four years for perjury and perverting the course of justice in 2001.

But Chaytor could be released as soon as the end of May under early-release rules for non-violent prisoners.

Passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court, Mr Justice Saunders told Chaytor that putting him behind bars was one of the first steps in restoring public faith in Parliament.

Chaytor, of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, made no reaction as he was sent down to begin his sentence at Wandsworth Prison.

He faces a potential six-figure legal bill for his defence and part of the prosecution costs.

The former lecturer initially denied the charges but pleaded guilty last month to three counts of false accounting between November 2005 and January 2008.

The fraud involved bogus documents he submitted to support claims totalling £22,650 (€27,230) for IT services and renting homes in London and his Bury North constituency.

Prosecutor Peter Wright said the properties were owned by Chaytor and his mother, he did not pay any money and the claims were fraudulent.

In mitigation, defence counsel James Sturman said Chaytor was a "broken man", adding: "He accepts he has brought shame on himself, on his family and on Parliament."

Former Labour MP Eric Illsley is due to go on trial at the same court next week, accused of dishonestly claiming £20,000 (€24,045) in council tax and other bills on his second home.

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