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Margaret Moran spared jail for fiddling 53,000 in expenses and faces supervision order insteadEx-Labour MP forged invoices to claim biggest sum in expenses scandal
57-year-old 'too ill' to leave the house but was seen going to the pubFormer Luton South MP gets two-year supervision order but escapes jailCourt hears she is so unstable she has not answered phone in three years
Judge: 'There will inevitably be feelings that [she] has 'got away with it'She may still be forced to repay the cash after prosecutor says civil recovery action 'under consideration'
12:09 GMT, 14 December 2012
Fiddled: Moran, 57, who represented Luton South for 13 years, claimed nearly her entire annual allowance in one bogus expense entry and forged invoices for more than 20,000
Disgraced former Labour MP Margaret Moran has been spared jail for fiddling expenses to receive more than 53,000 from the taxpayer.
Moran, 57, who represented Luton South for 13 years, claimed nearly her entire annual allowance in one bogus expense entry and forged invoices for more than 20,000 for non-existent goods and services.
The MP's claims were the largest amount uncovered in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal, but she does not receive a criminal conviction after a judge ruled she was unfit to stand trial for mental health reasons.
She was sentenced today at Southwark
Crown Court to a two year supervision and treatment order after her lawyers told the court she is so mentally ill she cannot leave home without being restrained.
However, only last month, she was photographed
popping out to the pub without any apparent need for restraints.
And it emerged today that she could still be forced to repay the money after the prosecution revealed that they were considering taking civil action against the MP to recover it.
Mrs Moran was not present at Southwark to hear Mr Justice Saunders make the ruling.
He said: 'There will inevitably be feelings among some that Mrs Moran has “got away with it”.
the court has done and has to do is to act in accordance with the law
of the land and on the basis of the evidence that it hears.'
The judge said two distinguished
psychiatrists instructed by the defence had concluded she was unfit to
plead, and a psychiatrist instructed by the prosecution broadly agreed.
'All the evidence in the case was
that she was unfit to plead. If I had reached any other conclusion my
decision would have been perverse and would inevitably have been
A jury decided that she did the acts alleged against her, and the defence played little if any part in the hearing.
'The findings of the court were not
convictions. Those findings enable me to make orders requiring her to
undergo treatment for her mental health,' the judge added.
Out and about: Former MP Margaret Moran is pictured leaving a pub in Southampton only five days after she was deemed unfit to stand trial
Able to drink: Despite a judge ruling she was too fragile to defend herself in court, MP Margaret Moran appeared to enjoy a glass of red wine at the pub near her Hampshire home
Up for a walk: Ms Moran was later seen at Lepe Country Park, walking her dog with her husband last month
Dr Simon Kelly, from the Priory Hospital in Southampton, said that he last saw Moran on Tuesday and that she was teetering on the brink of a breakdown as a result of the press coverage surrounding her case.
'She is experiencing panic attacks which make her believe she is going to be door-stepped at any point,' he told the court.
BOGUS CLAIMS: HOW MARGARET MORAN FIDDLED THE TAXPAYER
Moran submitted parliamentary expense forms (censored example pictured) for
claims including 979.84 for a kitchen that was never installed, 2,283 for a telephone line
that did not exist and 2,678.76 for a carpet she went on to claim for again.
In one case she claimed 22,500
– just under the annual maximum expense allowance for an MP – to treat dry rot
at her Southampton home, using the money instead to pay for a lavish
She arranged for the taxpayer to
foot the bill for personal expenses totalling nearly 60,000 between 2004 and
During that time the former
Luton South MP also ‘flipped’ her designated second home in order to make
claims for properties in London, Luton and Southampton.
'There is almost a tendency for her to feel threatened whenever she does leave home.’
Kelly said Moran would have had to be forced to come to court, such is the severity of her physical and mental conditions.
'She has severe and concentrated panic attacks, nausea, and vomiting', he said. 'I don’t believe it would be possible to physically remove her from home without restraints.'
Mr Justice Saunders said one report
had indicated Moran could suffer a massive heart attack if she was
forced to sit in the dock.
Dr Kelly replied: 'She has suffered raised
blood pressure for some months and had to attend casualty because of an
allergic reaction to hypertension medicine.
'She extremely distressed.'
He added: 'She's living a restricted
lifestyle, she's not answered the telephone at home for approximately
three years, she goes out very occasionally, to a local supermarket for
Meanwhile, her barrister Jim Sturman QC attacked press intrusion into her life in the wake of the scandal.
‘The more vengeful form of press who hounded her at her front door seem to think only someone is demonstrably mentally ill is in a straight jacket in a padded cell drooling and incapable of speech’, he said.
‘The hounding of a mentally ill woman is a dangerous and vile thing to do at any time, particularly post-Leveson,' he added.
Changed: Ms Moran's appearance had changed dramatically since the 2010 election when she appeared at a court hearing in September 2011
Paparazzi photographers snapped Moran two weeks ago walking her dog with her husband, and stopping at a pub near to her home.
‘Mrs Moran’s husband was distressed by the attempt to door step her two weeks ago’, said Mr Sturman.
‘All reports agreed it could have led to an increased risk of suicide.
‘The headlines in The Sun show there are always people who believe it is a huge con.
‘But none of them read all the evidence, and the person best placed to make the decisions is My Lord.’