Conservative MP set for by-election fight after being fined £1,500 over false expenses claim
Tory MP Chris Davies could face a by-election to unseat him after he was fined £1,500 and ordered to do community service for making false expenses claims.
The MP for Brecon and Radnorshire in March admitted to two charges of submitting expenses claims which he knew to be “false or misleading”.
He was fined and ordered to carry out 50 hours' community service at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday, with the move paving the way for voters in his seat to try and be given the chance to unseat Mr Davies through a recall petition.
At an earlier hearing in March Mr Davies pleaded guilty to providing false or misleading information for allowances claims, contrary to section 10 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 - which was brought in in the wake of the MP expenses scandal.
He also pleaded guilty to a second charge of 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.
Mr Davies served as a councillor in Powys before being elected to the Commons at the 2015 general election, where he unseated the Liberal Democrats’ Roger Williams.
He later served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Wales Office.
A by-election will have to take place in Brecon and Radnorshire if 10% of local voters sign a petition authorising one.
According to the Electoral Commission, a recall petition is opened if an MP is handed a custodial sentence, is barred from the Commons for 10 sitting or 14 calendar days, or is convicted of providing false or misleading information for allowance claims under the 2009 law.
Speaking in March, a spokesperson for Speaker John Bercow's office made clear that a petition - which would trigger a by-election if successful - would be opened once Mr Davies had been sentenced.
"As soon as the court has formally informed Mr Speaker that sentencing has taken place, procedures under the Recall of MPs Act 2015 require him to write to the returning officer in Mr Davies' Brecon and Radnorshire constituency," they said.
"Once the letter has been sent, Mr Davies is subject to the recall petition process and it will be for the returning officer to make the arrangements for the petition."
Under the rules, constituents would have six weeks to add their names to the petition.
Labour party chair Ian Lavery has also blasted the Conservatives for their response to the misconduct.
He said: "It’s shocking that the Conservative Party has still failed to take action against Christopher Davies, over a month after he admitted stealing from the public purse.
“MPs getting away with this kind of self-serving, dishonest behaviour turns people off politics. Theresa May has continued to rely on his vote for her botched Brexit deal, when she should have kicked him out of her party immediately.
“Christopher Davies has shown he is not fit to sit in Parliament. The Prime Minister should finally do the right thing and get rid of him.”
A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Chris Davies has been given a formal warning from the Chief Whip following today's ruling. He has apologised and it is right that the people of Brecon and Radnorshire now get to have their say about whether they still support Mr. Davies.”
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