Lord Taylor's Playground Defence

Lord Taylor’s claims were connected to a residence in Oxford – an address the prosecution say he never stayed at and doesn’t own. This is conceded by his barrister who says John Taylor was told by another senior peer that his claims were ‘acceptable’. His defence amounts to “a big boy told me to do it” and “all the other kids do it”. His barrister said peers, including Taylor, treat expenses as “in lieu of a salary” and that falsely claiming for expenses like this was ‘commonplace’ in the Lords. They were all at it.

You might think that admitting falsely claiming for expenses was a clear admission of guilt. It seems that the defence is trying to show there was no mens rea or “guilty mind” without which they could argue there is no criminal liability because actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea“the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind be also guilty”. How Taylor will demonstrate an innocent mind when he gave false addresses will be interesting…


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