Kent Police have given their response to the sentencing of the former South East MEP Peter Skinner for expenses fraud at Southwark Crown Court today. The ex-MEP from Snodland in Kent was jailed for four years.
The court heard how officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate launched an investigation into Skinner’s activities in December 2010 after becoming aware of a potentially fraudulent document relating to consultancy work that Skinner claimed had been provided by his father.
Kent Police said that it was later established that the document, which authorised payments of £5,000 to his father’s business every three months, contained fake signatures.
Investigators carried out further audits of Skinner’s personal and office accounts and found numerous examples of the politician spending money that had been intended for staff on himself and others.
Kent Police gave examples such as the former MEP buying a Land Rover Discovery for his ex-wife and paying monthly maintenance payments as part of his divorce settlement. There was also evidence that he used the money to pay for his honeymoon to the United States and Hawaii following his second marriage.
The Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Adrian Brown said that Skinner had betrayed his supporters:
"Peter Skinner served as an MEP for 20 years and has badly let down those who supported and trusted him throughout his time in office.
‘He abused his position, diverting significant sums of public money from legitimate parliamentary use to enhance his own lifestyle."
The MEP was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court today having previously been found guilty of one count of fraud, one count of false accounting and one count of making a false instrument.
The MEP had claimed about £480,000 of expenses during his time in office. An investigation found that more than £100,000 of it had been diverted for his personal use. The Prosecutor Jonathan Davies told the court the total lost to the European Parliament was £132,434.02, and the judge agreed that it was "in excess of £100,000".
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A Frenchman was seen dumping an air rifle in a bin in the departure hall - just hours after 130 people were killed in the Paris terror attacks.
But Jerome Chauris walked free from court, as a jury accepted his defence that his poor English meant he was confused by the signs at Gatwick.
Malcolm Shaw reports.
Kent schoolchildren had the chance to fire questions at astronaut Tim Peake, as he flew overhead aboard the International Space Station today.
Pupils from 23 schools came together to ask him questions via radio link-up from Wellesley House School in Broadstairs.
One question asked by a little girl called Scarlett left him stumped: "What is your favourite Shakespearian quote?", she asked.
But science is clearly his strong point and his answer was inspiring.
WATCH : Kent school children have some surprising questions for astronaut Tim Peake
There were worrying moments at the start of the live link-up when Tim Peake didn't seem able to hear messages from the school.
Science teacher Kerry Sabin-Dawson said: "There was so much tension in the room, waiting and hoping he would hear us. But he did and that was a wonderful moment."
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Ambitious plans have been unveiled to redevelop a derelict cement works on the South Downs in Sussex.
The massive quarry near Shoreham closed twenty-five years ago, but remains a blot on the landscape.
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Malcolm Shaw spoke to local businessman Neil Laughton, Ed Carr of the South Down Project, and former cement worker John Richards.
To find out more visit www.southdownproject.com
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Zoe Ball was on hand to wave the chequered flag and, as Andy Dickenson reports, the sun and the whole city came out to cheer the competitors on.
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