Bournemouth EchoMoran 'had £53,000 in false claims' (From Bournemouth Echo)

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Moran 'had £53,000 in false claims'

Bournemouth Echo: Former Labour MP Margaret Moran is accused of 15 charges of false accounting Former Labour MP Margaret Moran is accused of 15 charges of false accounting

Former Labour MP Margaret Moran received £53,000 by making false expenses claims, a court has been told.

The 57-year-old, of Ivy Road, St Denys, Southampton, is accused of 15 charges of false accounting and six of using a false instrument over the claims for parliamentary expenses.

Prosecutor Peter Wright QC told the jury her claims made between 2004 and 2008 totalled around £60,000, and that Moran received around £53,000 to which she was not entitled.

The former politician was found unfit to stand trial at Southwark Crown Court due to mental health issues, so the proceedings are taking place in her absence.

Rather than finding her guilty, jurors have to decide whether Moran did commit the acts alleged in the charges, and whether they amount to the offences with which she is charged.

Mr Justice Saunders told them: "It would be unfair for you to be able to find her guilty when she has had no opportunity to give her side of the story. Doctors have said to require her to attend court could have serious consequences for her physical health."

It is alleged that the former MP for Luton South, who stood down at the last election, "flipped" her designated second home, making claims for properties in London, Luton and Southampton. One of the 21 charges she is facing relates to a claim for £22,500 to treat dry rot at her Southampton home.

Moran's health began to deteriorate after allegations about MPs' expenses claims came to light in 2010, the jury heard. Mr Wright said: "Eventually her health deteriorated such that in April this year the court determined she was unfit to stand trial."

He told the jury that Moran, who had been an MP since 1997, was "entirely familiar" with the constraints of the system for claiming expenses. Rules governing MPs' expenses at the time meant bills and invoices were not needed for claims under £250, the court heard.

But Mr Wright said MPs were made aware "this was not some private pot you can dip into if you choose". "The underlying responsibility of each MP is to conduct their financial affairs with the utmost probity," he said.

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