Political reform group Unlock Democracy has welcomed the new Supreme Court ruling that MPs are not protected by parliamentary privilege over their expenses claims.
The ruling was announced on Wednesday 10 November 2010. It dismissed claims made by Labour MPs David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Jim Devine that they should not be tried in a criminal court because their expenses are covered by parliamentary privilege and are therefore not subject to criminal laws.
All three men deny theft by false accounting over their parliamentary expenses, but will now face the public charges over the issue that they were seeking to evade.
Peter Facey, the director of Unlock Democracy, which campaigns for thoroughgoing reform of Britain's parliamentary and voting system, commented: “Supreme common sense has been applied in the case. MPs should not be above the law."
He added: “This is not an attack by the courts on free speech but a judgement confirming that MPs should live by the same rules as those they represent."
“There are specific aspects of an MP's job, such as living in one part of the country and working in another, that are not usual for the rest of the population, that require additional financial support. Without this only the very wealthy could afford to be MPs. But it is essential that MPs do not profit from the system,” said Mr Facey.
Unlock Democracy: www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/