Margaret Moran, ex-MP found to have claimed £53k in false expenses, but won't face punishment(46 Posts)
"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:
"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.""
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.
What illness does she have " getting caught out -itis!. Send her to prison or fine her like everyone else. Her illness seems rather convenient.
She seeing the same doctor as Ernest Saunders, then?
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?
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.
sorry, xpost with poledra, yes Ernest Saunders is the one I was thinking of.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here's a recent conviction on somewhat similar grounds.
The woman was sentenced to 20 months:
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.
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.
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...
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.
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?
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.
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.
She should pay back the money with interest.
If she isn't going to prison then a community sentence should be imposed.
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.
"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'.
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.
Just because some poor bastards end up killing themselves in prison, it is not an argument to add one more to the total....
She should pay back the money with interest.
If she isn't going to prison then a community sentence should be imposed.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 - that isn't necessarily true. It depends a lot on the circs.
* 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.
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.
"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.
Round of applause for Snorbs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So basically, the majority think that Moran is just pretending to be mentally ill for personal gain?
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.
That wouldn't be the first thing she has done for personal gain.
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