Peers who produce fraudulent expenses claims will no longer be prosecuted after Parliament intervened in a trial to exert its authority over the criminal courts. Lord Hanningfield, the disgraced former Tory peer, had been accused of abusing the House of Lords expenses system by claiming £300 a day subsistence allowance, despite spending as little as 40 minutes a time in Westminster. But on the opening day of his trial prosecutors were forced to offer no evidence when parliament moved to insist such matters were for it and not the criminal courts to decide. The intervention, which came almost a year after Lord Hanningfield was first charged, means the criminal courts are virtually powerless to prosecute peers who abuse the very system that was introduced in an effort to clean up parliament. Sources at the CPS have, however, expressed frustration and bafflement at the last minute decision.
The Daily Telegraph, Page: 2 The Times, Page: 2 Daily Mirror, Page: 1,4,5 The Guardian, Page: 12 The Sun, Page: 21