LONDON: A long-standing British Labour Party politician Friday became the first parliamentarian to be sent to jail for making false expenses claims, following a scandal exposed in 2009.
David Chaytor, 61, who entered parliament in 1997, was sentenced to 18 months in jail by a court in London for fraudulently claiming expenses on properties of around 22,000 pounds ($34,000).
The so-called expenses scandal rocked the British parliament in 2009, when the Daily Telegraph published the detailed expenses claims of all members of parliament.
The scandal, which prompted widespread public anger, was widely seen as having contributed to the defeat of the Labour government of Gordon Brown in the 2010 general election.
Although much bigger and more outrageous claims were exposed by the Telegraph revelations, only Chaytor and four other members of parliament
(MPs) were actually charged with "false accounting".
Chaytor initially fought the accusations, citing his parliamentary immunity, but the High Court ruled that he and four colleagues would have to stand trial.
He eventually pleaded guilty to three counts of false accounting, which involved claims for works on a property owned by his mother and rent paid to a woman who turned out to be his daughter.
The claims were made under parliamentary rules guiding the use and maintenance of "second homes" for MPs, which have since been tightened.
Subsequent investigations revealed that many MPs believed they had acted within the confines of the liberal and ill-defined rules.
Chaytor's conduct had been in breach of the "high degree of trust" placed in MPs, a judge at Southwark Crown Court in London ruled.
"It is necessary their behaviour should be entirely honest if public confidence in the parliamentary system and rule of law is to be maintained," he said. "They are elected representatives, they hold an important and powerful place in society," the judge said.
Chaytor's lawyer described his client as a "broken man" who had paid a "devastating price" for his behaviour, which he regretted.