Ex-UK minister jailed over expenses claims

A London court sentenced a former government minister to 16 months in prison on Friday over the largest bogus claim exposed in Britain's lawmaker expenses scandal.

Elliot Morley pleaded guilty last month to two charges of false accounting over bills worth 32,000 pounds (nearly $52,000).

The 58-year-old former Labour Party politician claimed for mortgage payments on a loan that had already been paid off.

Justice John Saunders told Southwark Crown Court that Morley was guilty of "blatant dishonesty" and had "thrown away his good name and character."

In his verdict, Saunders said he was satisfied that "the excessive claims were made deliberately and are not explicable even in part by oversight."

The sentencing follows the 2009 disclosure of previously secret expense files that revealed how politicians had billed the public for items including swank second homes and pornographic movies.

Morley is the first former minister to be jailed for fiddling his expenses; three other former lawmakers received terms ranging from 12 to 18 months.

The case ended a political career spanning nearly 20 years. Morley, an environment minister in Tony Blair's government, chose not to run again for Parliament last year.

A total of 392 current and former legislators were ordered to repay about 1.12 million pounds ($1.8 million) following an investigation into the scandal.