To the astonishment of many, three of the four politicians facing the courts over their expenses have applied for and been granted legal aid.
David Chaytor (Bury North) is accused of claiming rent on his London flat, submitting invoices for IT work both falsely and renting a flat from his mother and claiming for that, which is against the rules.
Elliot Morley (Scunthorpe) is accused of claiming interest payments for a mortgage that was already paid off.
Jim Devine (Livingstone) is accused of wrongly submitting printing services invoices and wrongly claiming cleaning and maintenance costs.
Lord Hanningfield, the fourth involved, has not asked for legal aid.
All four have stated that they should not be dealt with by the courts but by the Westminster Parliamentary authorities under the 1689 Bill of Rights. So the main argument, which will cost the taxpayer potentially millions of pounds, will be whether these men should face trial or be facing Parliament instead. The cost so far, according to Scotland Yard, has been Â£508,500.
An elite team of legal minds has been brought together by the four to essentially argue that the politicians are above the law. If they fail they could face up to seven years in prison.
Both the Tories and LibDems have of course slammed the decision. But it is up to the independent courts to decide on each individual case as to whether they qualify or not. Justice must be done properly, whether or not we agree with some decisions.
Of course the politicians will do their utmost to face Parliament instead of the courts. Parliament are just likely to censure them and maybe fine them, then the whole thing can be quietly dropped so they can get on with their lives. Interaction with the courts that we lowly proles have to face could well ruin them and their families for life. That is why they must face the courts, to send out a clear message to everyone that this sort of sharp behaviour will not be tolerated. Then perhaps we’ll get proper lawmakers in place to set laws for the people not for the rich few.
To add insult to injury, the MPs, during their first (of many I hope) brief appearance in court, refused to enter the dock. This first appearance was at Westminster Magistrates Court and they are now due to go before Southwark Crown Court in May.