UK & World News
Ex-MP 'Unfit To Plead' On Expenses Charges
Former Labour MP Margaret Moran is unfit to enter a plea on charges that she fiddled her parliamentary expenses, a court has ruled.
It is claimed tht the 56-year-old "flipped" her designated second home and made claims for properties in London, Luton and Southampton.
She was charged at Westminster magistrates' court last year with 15 counts of false accounting and six of using a false instrument relating to expenses claims totalling around £80,000.
But a ruling made by Mr Justice Saunders at Lewes Crown Court said the case would now be "adjourned for a jury to determine whether the defendant did the acts alleged by the prosecution".
He said psychiatrists that had assessed Moran all agreed she was "not in a fit state to follow the proceedings, instruct her lawyers or to give evidence on her own behalf".
Justice Saunders said one had recorded Moran as saying: "'I just want to plead guilty and be punished' - but in his view and my judgment that is unlikely to have been a response reached after a proper consideration of the allegations and is simply an attempt to get the matter over with and assuage feelings of guilt which may relate to other matters.
"In those circumstances, as the evidence is all one way, and the application is not opposed I find on the balance of probabilities that the defendant is under a disability and is unfit to plead."
Other allegations against Moran include the claim she dishonestly claimed £22,500 to repair dry rot at her Southampton home.
She is also accused of falsely claiming £14,805 for boiler repairs and work on her conservatory.
At a previous hearing at Southwark Crown Court, James Sturman QC, counsel for Moran, urged the media to show "compassion and restraint" in reporting her case.