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MP 'faked invoice with OAP address'
A former Labour MP made a series of bogus expense claims including using an elderly couple's address on a fake invoice, a court has heard.
Margaret Moran, 57, is accused of making false claims for £60,000 in parliamentary expenses between 2004 and 2008.
Southwark Crown Court heard that on one bill for more than £4,000, address details given for a building firm were those of an elderly couple.
Prosecutor Peter Wright QC said: "They relate to the home of an elderly couple with no connection whatsoever to Elite builders. The invoice was a complete forgery. It was simply a means of pocketing £4,756.40 in public money."
She also claimed more than £2,000 for a landline at her flat when there was no phone line fitted, the jury heard, and for carpet for three bedrooms for her one-bedroom Westminster flat. Mr Wright said: "It was rather a lot of carpet for a one-bedroom flat in London."
Moran, of Ivy Road, St Denys, Southampton, is accused of 15 charges of false accounting and six of using a false instrument over the claims for parliamentary expenses. The former politician was found unfit to stand trial due to mental health issues, so proceedings are taking place in her absence.
Rather than finding her guilty, jurors have to decide whether Moran did commit the acts alleged in the charges, and whether they amount to the offences with which she is charged. Mr Wright went through each count Moran is facing, detailing invoices she allegedly changed before submitting them to Commons authorities. She altered addresses to make it look as if she was making legitimate claims for her second home or constituency office, when they were to cover her personal costs, jurors heard.
Mr Wright said: "She appears to have arranged for the taxpayer to foot the bill for repairs to which she was not entitled." He told jurors some MPs would change where their second home was, or swap the address with their main home.
Mr Wright said: "The scheme permitted an MP to claim for only one second home. It makes obvious sense, does it not? There was however no prohibition on an MP changing their second home or even swapping their main and second home. It was a practice that became known as 'flipping'. There are examples in this case of flipping main and second homes."
In 2004, Moran's main home, for which she could not claim expenses, was in her constituency in Luton, and her second home, for which she could claim costs, was in Westminster, central London. In February 2007 she switched her main home to Southampton, and her second home was designated as Luton, the jury heard. She let her Westminster flat for more than £1,500 per month. In October 2008 she swapped again so her main home was in Luton and her second in Southampton. The trial continues.