Lord Hanningfield seeks damages over 'unlawful arrest'

Lord Hanningfield has threatened legal action over his "unlawful arrest" over money claimed when he was leader of Essex County Council.

He was held at home in September after his release from jail for parliamentary expenses fraud.

In a "letter before claim" to Essex Police, his lawyers said he was seeking £3,000 for unlawful arrest and detention and £1,500 for trespass.

Essex Police said they had received the letter and were considering it.

Lord Hanningfield was jailed for nine months in July for falsely claiming £14,000 while he was a Conservative peer in the House of Lords.

The former pig farmer, from West Hanningfield, near Chelmsford, had claimed expenses for overnight stays in London when he was not in the capital.

He was released early, after serving nine weeks, and given a curfew and electronic tag.

'Had no right'

His lawyers said his arrest at his home early one morning in September was unlawful.

Mark Spragg of Keystone Law said: "They can't just go and arrest anybody they feel like, there has to be a reason.

"On this occasion it appears that the arrest may have been unlawful in practical terms because he was arrested inside his house.

"Police actually had no right to go through his front door... they didn't have a search warrant."

He added: "Ultimately we would like expenses for Lord Hanningfield because he has suffered at their hands."

The letter before claim states that the reasons given for the arrest were unclear and also seeks costs of £2,000.

Speaking at the time of the arrest, Mr Spragg had described it as "hitting a man when he is down" and a "complete travesty".

Lord Hanningfield is on police bail until 18 January.

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