Parliamentary privilege

Three Labour MPs and one Tory peer have had the whip suspended as they face trial allegedly fiddling their expenses.

Elliot Morley, David Chaytor, Jim Devine and Lord Hanningfield all face charges under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968.

Anyone convicted faces a maximum sentence of seven years’ in prison.

Parliamentarians are concerned that the men’s legal teams will try to use parliamentary privilege to protect them against prosecution, potentially worsening Westminster’s already battered reputation.