False expenses claim Tory MP Chris Davies fined £1,500

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Chris Davies
Image caption,
Chris Davies's defence said the MP did not intend to make "personal gain" or act in a "dishonest way"

An MP convicted of making a false expenses claim has been ordered to do 50 hours unpaid work and fined £1,500.

Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire Chris Davies pleaded guilty to providing false or misleading information for allowances claims and attempting to do so in March.

Davies, 51, made an "unreserved apology" following his sentencing at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday.

He now faces a recall petition amid calls for his resignation.

Davies must complete the community order within 12 months and was also ordered to pay £2,500 in costs.

Tom Forster QC, defending, said it was likely Mr Davies's career was in "tatters"

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called for him to resign, but in a statement Davies said he wanted to "move on and continue" his role as an MP.

"I have accepted today's ruling and want to take this opportunity to make an unreserved apology," he said.

"I would like to reiterate that I made a mistake and at no point did I at any time try to make any financial gain."

The Conservatives said Mr Davies has been given "formal warning" from the chief whip Julian Smith.

A party spokesman said "it is right that the people of Brecon and Radnorshire now get to have their say about whether they still support Mr Davies".

Image caption,
The court heard Chris Davies's political career is likely to be in "tatters"

The charges related to when he was setting up his constituency office following the 2015 general election.

In 2016, he tried to split a genuine cost of £700 for photographs for his office between two budgets by faking two separate invoices.

The court heard only one of them, for £450, was reimbursed, from a start-up budget that only had about £480 remaining in it and was not due to roll over and otherwise may have been lost.

Davies would have been allowed to claim the whole amount from a separate budget for office costs.

Another invoice for the remaining £250 to be claimed from that budget was not submitted, the court heard, after his office manager noticed the discrepancy.

The prosecution did not allege he was seeking falsely to profit from the invoices, but said the forged documents "involved some sophistication and took effort to create" and there was "also the matter of breach of public trust".

Mr Forster said he was "new to the system" and had paid back any money given to him.

He said there was a "likelihood that his political career is in tatters" and Davies was the "author of his own misfortune".

Image source, Yui Mok/PA Wire
Image caption,
Mr Justice Edis said the case was different "from the expenses scandals from 10 years ago"

Mr Justice Edis said the MP's actions were "highly discreditable" and it "remains shocking that when confronted with a simple accounting problem you thought the simplest thing to do was to forge documents".

The office for the Commons' Speaker John Bercow is now expected to ask officials to open a recall petition - a by-election will be held if 10% of the MP's constituents sign it.

The figure needed to trigger a by-election is yet to be confirmed, but it is thought about 5,300 names would be required.

Following the sentencing, the Welsh Liberal Democrats said Davies "should resign immediately and give Brecon and Radnorshire the chance to elect a new voice to represent them in Parliament".