Peer spent £286,000 on council card

Lord Hanningfield Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Disgraced peer Lord Hanningfield spent more than £286,000 on luxury hotel stays and trips to India, China and the Bahamas using a council credit card.

City of London Police announced this week it would be taking no further action after investigating Hanningfield's spending while leader of Essex County Council, saying there was insufficient evidence.

But the council published a full list today of Hanningfield's credit card transactions between 2005 and 2010 as part of its review of spending at the authority.

The 71-year-old, real name Paul White, from West Hanningfield, Essex, was last year jailed for falsely claiming parliamentary expenses.

He served nine weeks of a nine-month sentence and was ordered to repay more than £30,000.

The credit card log includes flights to the Bahamas costing £5,652 followed by a stay at the Wyndham Nassau which has been described as "paradise" and offers its own lagoon and Las Vegas-style casino.

On another trip Hanningfield spent £1,538.30 for a stay at the Hotel Imperial in Delhi, described as "the best luxury hotel in India".

Hanningfield also travelled to destinations including the US, Australia, Italy, France, Finland and Uganda.

The thousands of transactions include spending on meals, books, flowers and train journeys.

The report states that Hanningfield received a further £236,644 in expenses and allowances between 2006 and 2011.

It adds that although Lord Hanningfield reimbursed costs identified as being personal spending, there had been issues with a lack of receipts and expenditure above recommended guidelines.

The council admitted controls on the former council leader's spending had not been sufficiently "stringent".

Council leader Peter Martin said that since Lord Hanningfield left the council, action had been taken to tighten the authority's "governance framework".

Mr Martin said: "I am pleased that the police investigation is now closed and we are now able to move on.

"Lord Hanningfield was obviously a large part of the authority for a number of years but it is three years since he stepped down as leader and a lot has changed since then.

"It is now time to look forward rather than back."

After City of London Police announced its decision, Hanningfield said he was "relieved" but called on the council to launch an investigation into why the allegations were made.

He said: "I now believe that the council must examine its actions including the activities and motivations of those senior officials who ran and continue to run the authority.

"My heart sinks to think of the hundreds of thousands of pounds that the council has spent on this exercise through the hiring of expensive lawyers and the time and energy that could have been spent on delivering services for the people of Essex."