THE leader of Essex County Council has called on disgraced peer Lord Hanningfield to do the “right thing” and pay back more than £50,000.

Lord Hanningfield, who was Tory leader at Essex County Council between 2001 and 2010, is said to have wrongly claimed the cash on his council credit card.

Last week the authority’s audit committee said it could cost up to £110,000 to fight for the money and the council might not win.

It recommended dropping the case but the final decision lay with the current council leader David Finch.

Today he announced he would support the committee and said: “This about doing the right thing.

“It is about choosing to spend money on providing care, education, and roads, instead of spending it lining the pockets of expensive lawyers.

“I’ve made sure this situation can never happen again and our governance is now second to none.

“But I am still as angry and frustrated about this situation as Essex taxpayers are.

“So I am calling again on Lord Hanningfield to do the right thing and repay the money he owes.”