If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 7 January 2011

Cheater Chaytor Goes Daaaaahn

So David Chaytor has been found guilty and sentenced to 18 months. So that's 9 months, less time spent on remand, less a bit because he is a decent chap of previously good character (heh, obviously not) and he pleaded guilty, so that will be about 10 minutes, then. In, no doubt, an 'open' prison. Hardly the twenty years banged up with Big Tony and the pot of Vaseline that we would have hoped for, but pleasing, nonetheless.

Let's not be too sympathetic here. He claimed more than £20,000 in expenses that he wasn't entitled to. He forged documents; he claimed for rent which had been paid to a family member (specifically against the rules) and covered it by altering his daughter's name; he printed invoices to indicate he had paid for services which he was not in fact charged for. None of this was accidental: it was premeditated thievery. Anyone caught doing this level of expenses cheating in the private sector would have been sacked immediately and in the slammer before you knew it.

He thought he was above the law, and the good news from today is that it is quite clear he was not. I never expected him to serve a serious sentence, and for the amount he dishonestly claimed 18 months seems about right. I was not sure he would have been convicted at all, seeing how Blair managed to massage the judicial process in all sorts of ways to keep him and his cronies squeaky clean. So today's news is good. He's been expelled from Labour, sent to prison, is a 'broken man' and has a career ruined. The sum he cheated is paltry, in the great scheme of things, but a dishonest man has been publicly shown to be a dishonest man, and shamed. A good day's work.

The BBC's take was predictable, of course. On the BBC News channel (why can't they just call it News24 like they used to?), the Chaytor story was the lead item. And after Chaytor's sins had been enumerated and the entrails inspected, who did they bring on but - Jonathan Aitken! Of course, a famous Tory who has also done time. Aitken was a one-off, and his conviction was 12 years ago, but the BBC deemed him a relevant commentator to bring on and muddy the waters.

For 'balance', I suppose.

I haven''t got the figures to hand, but the vast majority of the cheats were from the Labour Party. At a guess, I would say that, overall, there was one cheat from the other parties for every six from Labour. It seemed to be endemic to their political culture. And yet, to an alien watching the BBC from his green spaceship, it was pretty much 50/50, Labour and Tory, all in it together, no-one's to blame, best have a sherry and talk about the cricket, what?

Nice work, BBC. The day of your disestablishment comes closer.


  1. Our local MP was a Labour Trougher, who fiddled his expenses & had to reimburse the Taxpayer.

    When his repayment was reported in the local rag, it was as if he'd made a payment to charity.

    Fortunately, the electorate threw him out.

  2. Sometimes, the wisdom of crowds is a fine thing. Thing is, most of us have to deal with work expenses in our daily lives. How would they not think we would be outraged when the truth came out?

  3. At least he won't have to share a cell with a 'nasty' smoker...

    " Written answers and statements, 6 February 2006

    David Chaytor (Bury North, Labour)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he has taken to ensure that non-smoking prison inmates are not required to share cells with prisoners who smoke.

    Fiona Mactaggart (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office; Slough, Labour)

    Each prison develops its own no smoking" policy in line with current health and safety advice, taking into account the type of establishment it is, its population and the special needs of that population. Wherever possible prisoners should not be required to share accommodation with a smoker if they so request."

    ( From dickpuddlecotes's blog)

  4. "How would they not think we would be outraged when the truth came out?"

    Because they were MPs; because it was endemic in Parliament; because expenses-fiddling had taken place for generations; because they didn't think it would become public knowledge; & the rules / regulations they expect common people to abide by shouldn't have to apply to an MP.

  5. Don: "At least he won't have to share a cell with a 'nasty' smoker..." Thank God for that. I was worried for a minute.

    Joe: Indeed, and the fact that they didn't think the rest of us would be just ever so slightly miffed about it shows how out-of-touch they have become.

  6. We've got Jim Devine up next. See what we have to put up with in jockoland ;) His 'interview' on Channel 4 was a classic.....Get the popcorn out..


  7. Yes, that's a classic of its kind. Rough translation: yeah, I did it, but then I did it in the Union, and I did it in the NHS, and anyway a big boy told me it was OK. I have no morals of my own.

    I can't wait to see him whingeing when he gets to court. OH reckons he'll get a lot more than Chaytor. We shall see ...

  8. I was particularly impressed that the judge made a point of sentencing him more sternly because of the breach of trust involved, and to take into account any future consequences of that tarnishing the relationship between MPs and electorate. For once, a justice who gets the picture.

    Aitken was quite good value - they had him on Channel 4 News as well. His advice was, basically, go into general population and be humble about it. Apparently what he did himself, rather than take the softer option of being treated as a vulnerable prisoner.

    Either way it doesn't sound like Wandsworth is going to be a barrel of laughs for him. Bet he was hoping for a soft option like Ford when he chose to plead guilty.

    I await with interest what will happen to those who refused the chance to admit it was a fair cop with some dignity intact - Devine in particular. His interview was a bit like the chap a few years back (name escapes me) whose defense was: I didn't knife her, she was already dead when I raped her...there's no good way to come out of that particular corner.

  9. Agreed, it's quite a good result, all in all. The 18 months is in line with the sentencing guidelines, and the man has been publicly shamed. That's all I would ask ... oh, and the 20 grand back, please.

    Devine is a different matter. The C4 interview showed him to be way out of his depth (and I think Gurumurthy did a great job on him) and backed into a corner. But he as much as confessed on air, and how he will plead innocence or ignorance in court will be a popcorn moment. I believe that "a big boy did it and ran away" is not an accepted defence in the British legal system.

  10. Sally Ann Bowman/Mark Dixie.

  11. Fiddling expenses came naturally to the Labour MPs. After all, their political philosophy is to take money from the public and spend it how they see fit.

  12. Good point. If you regard all money as a resource of the state, to dispense as it sees fit (which is only a more extreme version of Labour philosophy), then dispensing it to yourself for doing a bloody good job is quite natural.

    It's only those who have grafted for every penny that have respect for what other people have grafted for.


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