17 Aug 2010

Former MP Roger McClay admits fraud

8:33 am on 17 August 2010

A former government minister and children's commissioner has been convicted of making thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent expense claims for travel.

Roger McClay admitted defrauding the charities and Parliamentary Services when he appeared in the Auckland District Court on Monday.

The 65-year-old, a former National MP and minister outside Cabinet in the Bolger government, pleaded guilty to three charges of wrongly claiming about $26,000 over three years.

As a former MP elected before 1999, McClay has been entitled to a 90% subsidy for 12 domestic return flights each year.

He claimed the subsidy for air travel, while also claiming mileage costs for the same journeys from Keep New Zealand Beautiful and World Vision.

The fraud took place between 2005 and 2008. McClay originally faced 56 charges, however all but three were withdrawn on Monday.

One of the defrauded charities is Keep New Zealand Beautiful, whose vice chair Ben Lightfoot told Morning Report he would not like McClay to go to jail, as in his view the former MP has been punished enough because of the publicity the case has received.

McClay previously denied all the charges and will be sentenced on 25 August.

Under parliamentary rules, the former MP will lose his travel perks upon conviction.