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Politicians should be 'entirely honest' judge says, as he jails Chaytor

7 January 2011

Mr Justice Saunders said today that politicians should be “entirely honest” if public confidence in the parliamentary system and the rule of law is to be maintained.

Saunders J made the remarks as he jailed former Labour MP David Chaytor at Southwark Crown Court for 18 months for fraudulently claiming more than £20,000 in expenses. Chaytor pleaded guilty to three charges of false accounting.

“It is right that MPs should be trusted,” Saunders J said. “They hold an important position in our constitution. These false claims were made in my judgment in breach of a high degree of trust placed in MPs to only make legitimate claims.

“These offences have a wider and more important consequence than is to be found in other breach of trust cases. That is the effect that they have had and will have on the confidence that the public has in politicians.

“They are elected representatives; they hold an important and powerful place in society. They legislate for what the public can and cannot do and it is necessary that their behaviour should be entirely honest if public confidence in the parliamentary system and the rule of law is to be maintained.”

Mr Justice Saunders said the expenses scandal had shaken public confidence in the legislature and angered the public.

“Mr Chaytor only bears a small part of the responsibility for that erosion of confidence and public anger, but it was an important part because, as he has accepted, his conduct was dishonest.”

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