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The separation of powers and the exclusive cognisance of parliament

16 August 2016

Rupert Bowers QC and Daniel Godden examine the constitutional importance of parliament's assertion of privilege in a recent case against a Tory peer

On 30 September 2015, Lord Hanningfield was charged with an offence of false accounting. On 18 July 2016, the first day of his trial, the Crown offered no evidence. The prosecution was unable to continue due to a late intervention by parliament which stated that only it had jurisdiction over the subject matter of the indictment. The intervention by parliament, which knowingly halted a criminal prosecution, was unique in modern legal history.

Lord Hanningfield was indicted on a single count of false accounting that arose from his having submitted a claim for the daily attendance allowance at the House of Lords in the month of July 2013. Members of the House of Lords are entitled to claim a daily allowance of £300 (or £150) for every qualifyin...

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