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Welsh Tory MP Christopher Davies fined £1,500 for false expense claim

Christopher Davies is the Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

An MP, who submitted false expenses, has been fined £1,500 and ordered to carry out unpaid community service. He could also lose his seat if enough of his constituents sign a recall petition and force a by-election.

Christopher Davies, the Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, pleaded guilty to providing false or misleading information for allowances claims, and attempting to do so.

The 51-year-old was told he had committed ''two very serious offences" which were "absolutely intended to deceive" when he appeared before magistrates last month.

The charges relate to two invoices for landscape photographs to decorate his new constituency office following the 2015 snap general election.

He had contacted a photographer in his constituency and bought nine images from him to decorate and display in his constituency office, using his own money to pay the £700 for them initially.

There were two budgets available to him, the Start Up Costs Budget - for office furniture and IT equipment - and the Office Costs Budget, both of which he could claim the full amount from.

But Philip Stott, prosecuting, revealed Davies found in February 2016 that only £476.02 was left in the Start Up Costs Budget, with £8,303.75 remaining in the other.

He then created two fake invoices, so the £700 cost could be split between the two budgets - £450 to the Start Up and £250 for the other.

Prosecuting, Mr Stott said while Mr Davies was entitled to claim for the pictures, he was not entitled to split the costs across two budgets.

Defending, Thomas Forster QC said the MP his offending was a 'mistake' rather than a "return to the bad old days" of "maxing out expenses accounts".

Mr Forster added that his client underspent "across every single budget".

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Chris Davies: From Powys Councillor to MP

Davies served as a councillor in Powys before he was elected as MP for Brecon and Radnorshire at the 2015 general election, beating incumbent Liberal Democrat Roger Williams with the seat's largest majority since 1983.

He served as parliamentary private secretary to the Wales Office from January to July 2018.

Before entering politics, he worked as a rural auctioneer, an estate agent and also managed a mixed veterinary practice in Hay-on-Wye.

Under parliamentary rules, Davies does not automatically lose his seat as an MP because his sentence was less than the 12-month minimum. However, the nature of his offence means that there will be a six week period during which constituents can sign a recall petition. If 10% of the electors of Brecon & Radnorshire sign the petition, Chris Davies would lose his seat, although he could stand in the subsequent by-election.

231231 APR 19