Margaret Moran, ex-MP found to have claimed £53k in false expenses, but won't face punishment

(46 Posts)
joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 16:26:51

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-20309090

"She also changed dates on invoices for the work so that the money would be paid.

One invoice in August 2007 was for £14,805 - apparently for boiler repairs and work on her conservatory in her constituency home in Luton, when it was actually her home in Southampton, the court heard.

Another fake bill for more than £4,000 used an address for a building firm but the property actually belonged to an elderly couple.

She also claimed for three bedroom carpets at her one-bedroom Westminster flat, and £2,000 for a landline phone when it did not have one."

Apparently however, she's far too depressed to take any kind of punishment:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-17866333

"Dr Joseph said the ex-Labour MP was suffering from a depressive illness and had extreme anxiety and agitation.

Ms Moran, of Ivy Road, St Denys, Southampton, Hampshire, was described as weeping inconsolably when she appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court last year

Dr Joseph told Lewes Crown Court the stress of the proceedings and allegations she was facing made it impossible for her to participate in court proceedings.

He said she had tried to harm herself and there was a risk of suicide.

He added that she felt feelings of abandonment by the Labour Party and shame that her career was over.

Mr Justice Saunders said: "[Dr Joseph] recorded her as saying 'I just want to plead guilty and be punished', but his view and my judgement is 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.""

Viviennemary Tue 13-Nov-12 16:30:31

It is unbelievable. I heard it on the news and was going to start a thread and then I saw this one. She should go to prison like all other fraudsters. I wonder if she will be made to pay it back.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Tue 13-Nov-12 16:32:13

What illness does she have " getting caught out -itis!. Send her to prison or fine her like everyone else. Her illness seems rather convenient.

Poledra Tue 13-Nov-12 16:34:59

She seeing the same doctor as Ernest Saunders, then? hmm

FoxtrotFoxtrotSierra Tue 13-Nov-12 16:37:04

I do hope that the sentence isn't an absolute discharge and that she is made to repay the money - given that they found she had committed the offences there should be a POCA order made. The wilful resubmission of invoices shows her intent to defraud, and also her contempt for the public who were picking up the bill. That she claimed for a second home so far from both parliament and her constituency beggars belief, and really doesn't reflect well on her.

I'd imagine it is depressing finding out you're not nearly as clever as you think you are and getting caught out in a major way. Why can't she seek treatment for her illness and face the music when she's better?

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 16:38:12

ISTR some high and mighty person getting caught doing something in the 80s and being terribly ill/depressed to face punishment and then 2 or 3 years later having recovered miraculously going back into business as if nothing had happened. Don't remember the name, but perhaps someone does?

I don't know how much this kind of 'justice' costs, but it's not available to most of the prison population many of whom will be depressed/have mental illnesses. Pretty sickening to see an MP getting off with this kind of thing.

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 16:39:04

sorry, xpost with poledra, yes Ernest Saunders is the one I was thinking of.

Sickening.

Poledra Tue 13-Nov-12 16:40:54

Yes, he supposedly had Alzheimers, was released from prison after serving a paltry term then made a full recovery. From an untreatable illness.

Fucking miracle, someone tell the Pope.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 13-Nov-12 16:41:44

I don't think we do ourselves any favours as a society if we go back to treating sufferers of mental illness with imprisonment. She's done a very wrong thing and she deserves an appropriate punishment... but what benefit could possibly be derived from locking this woman up?

Snorbs Tue 13-Nov-12 16:44:56

So she can't be punished for being a crook because, um, she's anxious about facing the consequences of being found out as a crook? And her guilty plea can't be acted upon despite her being found out and despite the jury finding her to be guilty, because she wasn't in a fit enough state of mind to make such a plea? What a bunch of arse biscuits.

Funny how she was in a fit enough state of mind to actually commit these crimes, isn't it? One can only assume that actually being a con artist is a lot less stressful than the risk of being discovered as a con artist.

I wonder if people discovered committing benefit fraud can get away with it so easily expect to receive similar amounts of compassion when they've been found to have falsely claimed fifty-odd grand?

Liars and thieves, the lot of 'em.

FoxtrotFoxtrotSierra Tue 13-Nov-12 16:45:18

What would be an appropriate punishment, Cogito?

I agree that we shouldn't treat sufferers of mental illness with imprisonment, but nor should it be carte blanche to get away with doing anything wrong. Unfortunately this woman appears to be playing the MH card (and I will be very sorry if I'm wrong about this) as she made no complaint until she had been caught with her hands in the till.

When I used to work in a government department we were told never to take any action against anyone we suspected of wrongdoing if they raised MH issues - without asking for evidence - because it was seen as a get-out-of-jail-free card, much as it appears to be in this case.

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 16:48:25

I think the principle that justice be seen to be done is an important one, and when you have a person in a position of authority and trust committing a crime like this, it is important that they are not seen to be 'getting off', because that undermines public confidence in the institutions of democracy and justice, which is rather more important than Margaret Moran's mental health, frankly.

Poledra Tue 13-Nov-12 16:49:13

Thank you, Cogito, for reining in my kneejerk reaction (and that is not sarcastic). On reading the report again, it says she'll be sentenced at a later hearing - I should have reserved judgement until then. I am unclear how it works when te jury cannot find her guilty but can find that she committed fraud. Repaying the money and being barred from holding any sort of public office would probably be a better sentence than prison.

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 16:51:00

Here's a recent conviction on somewhat similar grounds.

The woman was sentenced to 20 months:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-18523579

though perhaps Moran's position of trust makes this more serious.

Give her two years, put her on suicide watch if need be, end of story.

Snorbs Tue 13-Nov-12 16:51:14

Cogito, I don't think we should lock up sufferers of mental illness simply for having a mental illness. I do find it highly suspicious that her mental illness suddenly arose when she was at risk of being thrown in jail for being a fraudster. I think the comparisons with Ernest "Only man in history to recover from Alzheimers" Saunders are entirely appropriate.

She was in a position where huge amounts of trust was placed on her and she blew that trust. Not only that she blew that trust simply for her own personal gain. She has been found to have had her snout firmly in the trough.

Yes, I do think a prison term is appropriate because, for the love of all that is holy, something needs to be done about the sheer number of MPs who are happy to line their own pockets at public expense. Maybe the threat of time in jail will do it, because it's damn clear that the existing policies aren't doing much to stem the tide.

My local MP was found to have been claiming for a second home that actually had her (adult) daughter living in it. At taxpayer's expense. She didn't even apologise.

Poledra Tue 13-Nov-12 16:52:37

But Snorbs, I'd really rather have the money back than jail her. D'you know how much it would cost to have that woman in jail? Let her pay for her own living expenses...

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 16:56:06

I don't think the money is really the point here. Politicians were stealing from us, which is cancerous to our democracy, and they should be seen to be punished, humiliated, the full package. We didn't hold off on investigating the expenses scandal because it might have cost £x million to do so. The cost of keeping her in prison is irrelevant.

Snorbs Tue 13-Nov-12 16:56:29

I'd rather have the money back and all the expenses-stealing tossers put in jail. That way they'd both be punished for their crimes and also serve as warning for the others to try to persuade them not to be thieves as well. Hopefully they'd get a bit of rehabilitation about how to act like decent citizens thrown in too.

Isn't that what prison is there for?

Viviennemary Tue 13-Nov-12 16:57:08

She is nothing but a thief. Does this give carte blanche to all criminals to plead mental illness to escape prison. Put her on suicide watch. Sorry if that sounds harsh. But there are a lot more vulnerable people than her put in prison and for much less serious offences.

TwoIfBySea Tue 13-Nov-12 16:58:15

One rule for them, one rule for us. If any of us were caught with our greedy little fingers in the till then we'd quite rightly be thrown in jail regardless of circumstance.

Mental illness should never be suddenly pulled out of the hat as a get-out-of-jail card. She is disgusting for even doing so.

TheCrackFox Tue 13-Nov-12 17:00:31

She should pay back the money with interest.

If she isn't going to prison then a community sentence should be imposed.

TheCrackFox Tue 13-Nov-12 17:03:16

And, and, and you could argue that most people charged with a crime they did commit and probably going to prison for would be depressed, anxious and agitated.

It does snack of one rule for them and another rule for the plebs.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 13-Nov-12 17:04:16

"What would be an appropriate punishment, Cogito?"

Having to repay the money and losing her job would be a good start. She's got a supervision and a hospital order. I'm disgusted that some people are leaping to the conclusion that she's 'playing the MH card'. If she has been shown to be mentally unfit to stand trial, she's mentally unfit. There have been several other MPs tried and convicted for exactly the same crimes. They've not been given special treatment. This is not about 'the likes of them vs the likes of us'.

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 17:12:34

She may or may not be 'playing the MH card', but regardless there are clearly many people in prison who kill themselves, are suicide risks, and so on, that isn't a barrier to entry.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 13-Nov-12 17:21:17

Just because some poor bastards end up killing themselves in prison, it is not an argument to add one more to the total.... hmm

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