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.""

joanbyers Wed 14-Nov-12 10:39:03

That wouldn't be the first thing she has done for personal gain.

WrathdePan Wed 14-Nov-12 07:58:34

Well, I think the majority don't give a rat's arse about MH and locking people up. It's a sort of British pastime and keeps lots of prison officers in jobs.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 14-Nov-12 07:16:36

So basically, the majority think that Moran is just pretending to be mentally ill for personal gain?

edam Tue 13-Nov-12 23:08:01

I've no reason to doubt that she's in a hell of a state, but only because she's been found out. She should receive exactly the same treatment that would be meted out to anyone else who had stolen £53k.

Viviennemary Tue 13-Nov-12 21:34:44

I think she should be punished. £53,000 is an enormous amount of money by anybody's standards. She has stolen money from the public that is stolen from each and every tax payer and contributer in this country. She held a position of trust. She was a representative of the people. I think she should be imprisoned. Anything else is a travesty of justice.

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 21:23:58

Well yes punishment and rehabilitation are not the same thing. We probably should think about rehabilitating say, the 30-times-convicted burglar (or just lock him up for good), but in this case I think punishment is what society wants.

WrathdePan Tue 13-Nov-12 20:19:57

btw, the title indicates she 'won't face punishment', by which I take it you mean 'she won't face prison', sort of points up the fact that in the UK punishment = prison, even when the recidivism rate is astronomical.

WrathdePan Tue 13-Nov-12 20:14:40

fwiw I don't think any of those cases deserve a prison sentence whatsoever Snorbs. We do seem to like the expensive and damaging sentence of imprisonment (esp. for offences against property and money, rather than people) when there are much more effective alternatives available such as curfew or Unpaid Work for punishments, or supervision for rehabilitation. Or psychiatric requirements for those who have MH issues.

Quoting a small clutch of cases doesn't really add anything tbh - or it just shows how rubbish as a society we are at dealing with offending.

Snorbs Tue 13-Nov-12 19:01:14

Six month jail for single mother for 44K benefit fraud

Three months jail for man who fraudently claimed 24K of housing benefit.

Two months jail for falsely claiming 18K of benefits.

These people are all in jail for committing fraud at the public expense. I would hazard a guess that they were all pretty depressed at the thought of being caught, jailed and having a criminal record.

Presumably, though, they were not able to afford the kind of high-powered legal representation and specialist psychiatric reports that Ms Moran is.

AThingInYourLife Tue 13-Nov-12 18:41:11

Round of applause for Snorbs

AThingInYourLife Tue 13-Nov-12 18:39:35

"Does she deserve to go to prison? Is she a threat to society and people in it that she needs the fracturing experience of prison?"

Big fat yes from me.

She stole a lot of public money and her actions caused enormous damage to our society's trust in its elected representatives.

Snorbs Tue 13-Nov-12 18:39:29

Cogito, your hyperbole is showing. You might want to adjust your clothing.

"I believe you". I thought that campaign was for people coming forward with histories of abuse. I didn't realise it was aimed at being a blanket acceptance of every word uttered by anyone ever about anything ever. Were you so accepting of the words of Ernest Saunders when he claimed to have an incurable illness or James Murdoch when he claimed to have no knowledge of phone hacking?

I know not whether Ms Moran is malingering or genuinely depressed. That being said I have experience of situational depression leading to suicidal ideation so I do have at least some idea of what she is experiencing. Although, in my case, the situation that led to the depression was an abusive relationship and not the fear of being caught bang-to-rights for my own choice to repeatedly commit fraud.

I do not personally believe that (what is often a temporary) mental illness, caused entirely through ones own criminal actions, should automatically be a bar to being punished for those crimes. It would be an all-too convenient "get out of jail free" card.

I do believe that people who choose to pursue and hold positions of great power - MPs, the police, judges etc - should be held to higher account than the average schmuck in the street. With great power comes great responsibility (and Spiderman's wise uncle Ben said that, so it must be true). If you decide to abuse that power and public trust purely to line your own pockets then you should face the full force of the law.

Put simply, if I embezzled over fifty grand from my employer I'd fully expect to serve time in jail regardless of how depressed that idea might make me.

Timeforabiscuit Tue 13-Nov-12 18:30:00

* it's on the last line of the top BBC article

If that's the case i'd argue that those hearing the case in full were best placed to judge it.

WrathdePan Tue 13-Nov-12 18:29:40

mummyonvalium - that isn't necessarily true. It depends a lot on the circs.

Timeforabiscuit Tue 13-Nov-12 18:25:55

Hang on - isn't this the lady who's sister died and she was guardian to the children?

- I think any kind of tracking which home was your permanent one during that sort of crisis is understandable to an extent.

The other frauds absolutely not, but I would want to see the timeline in full before making any snap judgements.

mummyonvalium Tue 13-Nov-12 18:17:55

Agree with snorbs - how convenient that her mental health issue arose around the time of her trial.

Prison is what would happen if she was a normal person in a normal job so she should go to prison and be treated the same as a normal person.

WrathdePan Tue 13-Nov-12 18:02:21

Ocassionally the lack of compassion and understanding on MN is breath-taking, and here imo is one of them. We really don't know what her experience of MH is - but that doesn't stop the stones being thrown.

Does she deserve to go to prison? Is she a threat to society and people in it that she needs the fracturing experience of prison. Big fat 'no'. There are enough women with MH issues in priosn already without adding another one. There's lots of alterntives which will be just as effective in this case.
But we seem to have some kind of emotional attachment in this country has to locking people up unecessarily.

joanbyers Tue 13-Nov-12 17:46:26

Actually I was thinking the stocks might not be a bad idea.

Don't see the connection with DLA, and I thought 'I believe you', was about victims of rape and abuse, not saying 'I believe you' to known fraudster criminals.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 13-Nov-12 17:23:40

Hell... why not put a sick woman in the stocks and throw eggs? That's what everyone seems to want for this dreadful malingering woman who is clearly putting it all on for show and to get off lightly. Just the kind of responsibility-dodging 'oh dear I'm a bit sad today' scrounger that the DLA assessment people should winkle out and throw to the wolves. Hurrah!!

So much for 'I believe you' eh?

FoxtrotFoxtrotSierra Tue 13-Nov-12 17:23:20

I don't think it is an us vs them situation, but I am concerned that she was perfectly able to do a very stressful job yet the moment she was personally responsible for something it all came crashing down. It's just that the prison system is full of people with mental health issues, and yet she seems to have had hers taken into account - and it does seem convenient that it wasn't a problem until she got caught. I'm not saying that her MH issues aren't genuine, but that they are linked to her being caught committing a serious offence.

I honestly don't know what the answer should be in this instance, but there is clear intent to defraud in the way she amended and resubmitted paperwork so some form of punishment and rehabilitation should be in order, though when she is able to learn from and benefit from it.

TheCrackFox Tue 13-Nov-12 17:23:13

She should pay back the money with interest.

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

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

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 17:04:16

"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'.

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.

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