R v Chaytor and others [2010] UKSC 52

In November the Supreme Court was asked to rule on the issue of whether the criminal courts are prevented from trying former Members of Parliament on charges relating to expenses claims on the grounds that the proceedings would infringe parliamentary privilege. The appellants had been committed for trial on charges of false accounting arising from claims submitted for parliamentary expenses. They relied on two bases of Parliamentary privilege to object to these proceedings: Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1689 which provided that courts could not question any proceedings in Parliament, and the wider exclusive jurisdiction enjoyed by Parliament to manage its own affairs. The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeals. Submission of expenses claims fell outside the core business of Parliament, to which Article 9 was directed. As for the exclusive jurisdiction, Parliament had to a large extent relinquished this in relation to administrative matters and had recognised the overlapping jurisdiction of the courts in cases of criminal conduct. In the appellants’ cases, Parliament had cooperated with the police investigation and refrained from exercising a disciplinary jurisdiction over them.