Former MEP jailed for four years over expenses fraud
A former Labour MEP who fraudulently claimed more than £100,000 in expenses has been jailed for four years.
Peter Skinner, who served in the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 for the South East, was found guilty of three charges after a trial at Southwark Crown Court.
The 56-year-old claimed the maximum Parliamentary Assistance Allowance (PAA) over a three-year period between 2004 and 2007 to pay his staff.
The loss to the European parliament is thought to be “in excess of £100,000”, Judge Maura McGowan said today.
Mr Skinner is said to have channelled thousands of pounds of the funding into his own account, spending it on luxury items including holidays abroad and jewellery.
He also made fraudulent payments worth £10,000 a month to his wife from December 2007 until July 2009, which allowed him to claim PAA.
Mr Skinner also fabricated a letter claiming his father worked for him to justify sending his parents £5,000 every three months.
He was found guilty of one count of making a false instrument, one of false accounting and a one count of fraud in the period between 2004 and 2009.
In total, he claimed up to £480,000 during the period, of which around £100,000 was fraudulent.
Sentencing Mr Skinner today, Justice Maura McGowan said: "You were trusted by the public and you abused that trust.
"You have not only damaged public trust in individual parliamentarians but also in the democratic institution itself.
"This was a breach of trust of the worst kind - this was a sustained pattern of stealing from the taxpayer."
He now faces a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.