Expenses scandal: Lord Hanningfield stands down following theft charges

LORD Hanningfield has announced that he is standing down from the frontbench in the House of Lords to avoid embarrassment for his party. The Tory peer is faced with six charges of false accounting in which he allegedly made false expense claims for over

LORD Hanningfield has announced that he is standing down from the frontbench in the House of Lords "to avoid embarrassment for his party."

The Tory peer is faced with six charges of false accounting in which he allegedly made false expense claims for overnight stays in London between March 2006 and May 2009 - when records show he was actually driven home.

Despite denying any wrongdoing he has also been suspended from the parliamentary conservative party.

Lord Hanningfield said he would "vigorously defend himself" against the charges which have been brought about under the theft act.

He added that he was "disappointed" to be charged and that he has stepped down form his position as shadow transport minister to "avoid any embarrassment or distraction" to the Conservative Party.

He said that he is also cooperating fully with the ongoing police investigation.