Director of Public Prosecutions Kier Starmer announced this morning that MP's Elliot Morley, Jim Devine and David Chaytor are to be charged, along with Lord Hanningfield, in respect of alleged offences under the Theft Act.
The prosecutions come in the wake of the long-running scandal of MPs expenses, which saw over half of sitting MPs required to repay over-claimed amounts in yesterday's Legg Report.
All four charged have strongly denied the allegations, and have said they will defend themselves 'robustly'.
However, the Parliamentary Fees Office said that in the wake of the Inquiries and CPS charges, they were to introduce new expense procedures. Commons Squeaker John Bercow said, "we need to ensure that fairness is at the core of the Expenses system. We are therefore introducing a new category system that will entitle sitting MPs to claim the cost of legal counsel against the expenses system.
"Additionally, we are investigating a secondary claims system to ensure that should any of those charged be convicted, their payments for snout, KY Jelly and protection money to 'Bludger' Jones on C Wing will be reimbursed under the Constituency Matters category. Dunlopillo will remain available through the John Lewis List."
Mr Bercow added that the Government were investigating a 'radical new method' of expenses, which would end the 'opaque and underhand' current system of simply stealing taxpayer's money*, and instead adopt an 'open and honest system of theft'*, whereby MPs will have the right to enter the houses of constituents, take whatever they want and flog it on eBay whenever they find themselves a few quid short.