Wednesday, 24 Apr 2024

Tory MP Christopher Davies faces prison over fraudulent expense claims

Tory MP Christopher Davies is facing jail after admitting Parliamentary expenses fraud over false invoices worth £700 for pictures and furniture at his constituency office

  • Christopher Davies admitted two counts of expenses fraud in court this morning
  • The Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire was first elected in 2015
  • He admitted making ‘false or misleading’ claims in March and April 2016 
  • Magistrates sent Davies to Crown Court for sentencing where he faces prison  
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Conservative MP Christopher Davies, pictured today arriving at Westminster Magistrate Court, admitted fraud in connection with his parliamentary expenses 

Tory MP Christopher Davies is facing a prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to two counts of expenses fraud. 

Prosecutors dropped a charge of forgery when he appeared today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. 

However, he will have to appear in crown court for sentencing after district judge  John Zani has said he ‘does not consider’ his sentencing power sufficient to settle the case. 

The first charge was providing false or misleading information for allowances claims contrary to section 10 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009.

He admitted that in March 2016 he made a claim under the MPs’ allowances scheme and provided an invoice that he knew to be ‘false or misleading’.

The second charge was attempting to provide false or misleading information for an allowance claim using an invoice ‘that he knew to be false or misleading’ in April 2016. 

Thomas Forster QC, defending, told the court Davies accepts his responsibility and expresses his ‘sincere and unreserved apology for what he has done’.

Mr Forster said of the 51-year-old: ‘A disastrous accounting episode, as far as he is concerned.

‘He recognises he is the author of his own misfortune, all of this has to be laid at his door and blames no-one else but himself.’

The court heard Davies had already informed Commons Speaker John Bercow of his intention to plead guilty.

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Mr Forster said his client, who was seated in the dock wearing a grey suit and pink shirt, is a ‘family man’ with two children who is local to his constituency.

‘It took courage to plead guilty and face the music,’ Mr Forster added. ‘He has not shied away from that responsibility and he should be given credit.’

Davies served as a councillor in Powys before he was elected as MP for Brecon and Radnorshire at the 2015 general election, beating incumbent Liberal Democrat Roger Williams with the seat’s largest majority since 1983.


Mr Davies, pictured left, was first elected to Parliament at the 2015 General Election

In January 2018, he was appointed Private Secretary to the Wales Office. 

He was charged in February this year.

The court heard how the two charges relate to around the time when he was setting up his constituency office following the 2015 snap general election.

He had contacted a photographer in his constituency and purchased nine images from him to decorate and display in his constituency office, using his own money to pay the £700 for them initially.

There were two budgets available to him, the Start Up Costs Budget – for office furniture and IT equipment – and the Office Costs Budget, both of which he could claim the full amount from.

But Philip Stott, prosecuting, revealed Mr Davies found in February 2016 that only £476.02 was left in the Start Up Costs Budget, with £8,303.75 remaining in the other.

He then proceeded to create two fake invoices, so the £700 cost could be split between the two budgets – £450 to the Start Up and £250 for the other.

The court heard he could have claimed the full amount from the budget with the larger amount available, or had the photographer create new legitimate invoices to split the cost that way.

Davies highlighted in a letter to the Party Investigating Officer sent in February 2018, in which he responded to the allegations against him, that he had been ‘told in a conversation by a more experienced MP that you could “split” expenses” and therefore attempted to do so.

Davies has since repaid the £450, with the £250 claim never submitted.

Before entering politics he worked as a rural auctioneer, an estate agent and also managed a mixed veterinary practice in Hay-on-Wye.

Davies was first interviewed by police in July 2018 and then again in October. He claimed he had made an ‘honest mistake’ by claiming for furniture and pictures for his constituency office in 2016.  


His legal team said Davies apologised for the  ‘disastrous accounting episode, as far as he is concerned’

Davies was referred to police by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa). 

Addressing Davies, Judge Zani explained his decision to send the case onwards for sentence. 

He noted the MP had shown ‘considerable remorse’ and saw there was no financial gain for his actions. 

‘However, in my view, these are two very serious offences to which you have pleaded guilty.

‘The documents you created are troublesome in that they carried a deal of information that you put together which absolutely intended to deceive.

He said as an MP, a position of considerable responsibility and trust, there is a need to be ‘meticulous in your claims’.

MailOnline has approached Davies and the Conservative Party for a comment. 

Number 10 said the case was a matter for the Conservative Party.  

Ian Lavery MP, Labour Party Chair said: ‘Trust in politics and politicians is essential to our democracy. Chris Davies cannot remain a Tory MP after admitting to this offence.’

A CPS spokesperson said: ‘We are clear that Mr Davies was not seeking to profit from the submission of the false invoices. However, for the parliamentary expenses system to work effectively and maintain public confidence it must rely on accurate, genuine information.

‘The defendant’s guilty pleas were considered carefully and we were satisfied that they covered the wrongdoing and allowed the court sufficient sentencing powers. In those circumstances we would not proceed with the forgery charges.’  

MPs and their dodgy expenses  

Anthony Steen

The Conservative MP for Totnes said he would not stand for re-election after it was revealed in 2009 that he had spent £87,729 in four years towards the upkeep of his £1 million mansion.

Costs passed on to the public purse included tree surgery and a wrought-iron fireplace, but Mr Steen said he did not know ‘what the fuss is about’.

He said people were ‘jealous’ of his ‘very, very large house’, adding: ‘What right does the public have to interfere with my private life? None.’

He was later given a CBE for his work tackling human trafficking.

Margaret Moran

The former Luton South MP falsely claimed more than £50,000 in expenses, a jury ruled, but it was unable to find her guilty of the offence as she was deemed not fit to stand trial in 2012.

She previously announced that she was standing down after days of public anger over claims of £22,500 for treating dry rot at her partner’s home in Southampton, 100 miles from both her constituency and Westminster.

Moran said the ‘understandable public anger’ over MPs’ expenses had caused her ‘great stress’ and ‘seriously worsened my existing health problem’, resulting in her not formally standing trial.

Marion Little

Not an MP, but a senior Conservative Party official, Little was found guilty in January 2019 of falsifying election expenses in a bid to defeat then-Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

The 63-year-old was convicted in the trial of Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, who was acquitted of breaking electoral rules in his 2015 South Thanet campaign against Mr Farage.

Little, who had worked for the party since 1974 and was held in high regard by Tory top brass, was handed a nine-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay £5,000 towards the ‘very substantial’ prosecution costs.

Jacqui Smith

The then-home secretary became the first Cabinet casualty of the MPs’ expenses scandal, after it was revealed she told prime minister Gordon Brown within days of revelations about her finances that she wanted to quit the government in a reshuffle.

Sources close to Ms Smith said she was so hurt by the revelations in March 2009 – including the humiliation of repaying the £10 her husband, Richard Timney, who worked as her assistant, claimed for watching two adult films – that she told Mr Brown just days later that she wanted to quit.

Ms Smith was also criticised for claiming that her main residence was a rented room in the property she shared with her sister, allowing her to claim the second home allowance on the family home in Redditch, Worcestershire.

David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Eric Illsley

The trio were landed with massive bills to repay legal aid and prosecution costs in 2011 following their convictions for fiddling their expenses.

A judge at Southwark Crown Court ordered that Chaytor, former MP for Bury North, and Morley, a former environment minister and ex-Scunthorpe MP, should each pay prosecution costs of £23,176, with Illsley, ex-MP for Barnsley Central, ordered to pay £12,178.

Morley, 59, was ordered to pay £33,005 legal aid costs, with Chaytor told to pay £23,036 and Illsley, 56, £10,909.

No orders were made against Jim Devine, former Labour MP for Livingston, after the court was told that he was bankrupt.

All four received jail terms relating to expenses fraud.

Lord Hanningfield

The life peer and former Tory member was jailed for expenses fraud in 2011.

He was later accused of wrongly claiming around £3,300 in expenses in 2013, but was cleared after Parliament intervened.

He later told a newspaper: ‘People are making a mountain out of a molehill. I may have made a mistake in the past but I am still being penalised for it.’

Sir Peter Viggers

The MP for Gosport’s bill for a floating duck house became a symbol of the 2009 scandal and forced him to end his Commons career.

The Tory grandee claimed £1,645 for the item, which appeared as a ‘pond feature’ on his list of expenses.

It was disallowed by the Fees Office.

Douglas Hogg

The Tory former Cabinet minister, whose bill for moat-clearing was seen as another example of largesse, switched the designation of his second home in 2008 from his Lincolnshire manor house to a property in London.

In addition to what he described as ‘core expenses’ of £1,091.42 a month – including £759 service charges and £40 a week for cleaning – he put in a series of claims for household items.

These included £20 for a toaster, £19 for low-energy lightbulbs, £4.99 for weedkiller, and £2.99 for refuse bags.

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