DISGRACED peer Lord Hanningfield told how he is now living life on the breadline after the parliamentary expenses scandal ended his career and tarnished his years of public service.
Lord Hanningfield, 73, jailed for parliamentary expenses fraud in 2011, says he is now getting by on his state pension and a “small” pension from his time as a farmer.
His bungalow in West Hanningfield is on the market, as he attempts to downsize, and his savings have been wiped out to pay legal bills associated with his court case over expenses, which saw him jailed for nine months.
But he says when he looks back on how his career collapsed so spectacularly he still can’t believe how – or why – it happened.
Lord Hanningfield feels much of the fall-out was because the public assumed he was a rich man skimming even more cash from the public purse.
But he says the reality was a long way from that.
He said: “In those days I was claiming about £28,000 a year – and I was paying someone a bit more than £20,000, so there wasn’t a lot left for myself for general expenses.
“You have to eat, have reasonable clothes, you have to do all sorts of things, you have to treat people a lot, you have to pay for things in the House of Lords.
“As a peer, there is no salary. Now there’s a flat rate of £300 a day. Then it was £50 a day for being a peer, but there were various categories which took it up towards £280 a day.
“I was at the House of Lords, on average, about 100 days a year. At £280 a day, that’s about £28,000.”
He added: “We’re not given any staff at all. When you’re an MP, you get £200,000 a year for your staff.
Most MPs have about four people. A peer doesn’t get any staffing at all – you have to pay staff yourself if you want some help.
“That £300 flat daily rate helps pay for it.
“It’s accepted, more or less, that you claim expenses so you can pay any staff you have, and to help you in day-to-day life.
Lord Hanningfield admits the fall-out from the case has been severe and says he is now living on a state pension, adding his case cost him £250,000 – and he’s mortgaged his house to pay debts.
He says: “This has wiped me out. I don’t have savings anymore. My house is on the market and I’m downsizing. I don’t live in a big house.
“I am living on my state pension. Before I got into politics I was a farmer, and I have a small farming pension. That’s all I have. It’s not enough.”