POLICE have launched a probe into Lord Hanningfield’s Essex County Council expenses claims.

Essex County Council has asked police to look into his claims during his time as its leader.

The announcement was made just after the peer was found guilty of fiddling his House of Lords expenses.

In a statement, Peter Martin, who succeeded the former Tory leader, said an internal audit raised “concerns” during Hanningfield’s time as leader from 2001 to February 2010.

Mr Martin said: “Lord Hanningfield remains a county councillor until his sentence has been determined. I can confirm he has been removed from the Conservative group at County Hall.

“Our own rigorous internal audit revealed concerns over Lord Hanningfield’s expenses while he was leader of this council.

“We have taken a robust approach to dealing with their findings.

“In consultation with the chief executive, we have asked Essex Police to investigate the matter.

“There will be no further statement or comment from County Hall until the police have completed their enquiries.”


FORMER Essex County Council leader, Lord Hanningfield, has been found guilty of six counts of expenses fraud.

Lord Hanningfield, 70, a former Lords opposition frontbencher and Essex County Council leader, was convicted by a jury of nine women and three men at Chelmsford Crown Court following an eight day trial.

They returned their verdicts after four hours of deliberation.

He had denied fraudulently claiming parliamentary expenses totalling nearly £14,000 between March 2006 and May 2009. The charges relate to six individual one month periods.

But the jury found that he unlawfully claimed expenses, including £13,379 for overnight stays in London when he was not in the capital.

He showed no emotion as the verdicts were returned.

As well as claiming overnight allowances, Lord Hanningfield, from West Hanningfield, near Chelmsford, Essex, also wrongfully claimed £382 in train fares and £147 in mileage by doubling the seven-mile distance from his house to the train station.

Throughout the trial Lord Hanningfield insisted he had been left out of pocket. He said that he "averaged out" his claims to recoup some of the money he had spent as a result of his parliamentary duties.

He has already paid back some of the claims, including the cost of overnight stays, when he was in fact on a plane to India.

When the former leader of Essex County Council was questioned by police he told them to look at the records of other peers and claimed he was not the only one claiming expenses in this way.

He was caught out when detectives examined diaries and a paper trail resulting from the use of a chauffeur driven car.

Detectives spent £18,000 auditing his expenses claims after the allegations came to light.

During the trial Lord Hanningfield, who was earning £47,000 a year as Essex County Council leader at the time of his arrest, claimed he remortgaged his bungalow to fight the case and sold some land behind his house for £30,000, using £15,000 of this to pay his legal costs.

Unmarried Lord Hanningfield said public service had been his life.

He said he had now been left penniless and after 40 years in local government he is not entitled to a local government pension because he "never got round to signing the forms".