The corruption which infests Westminster is endemic at all levels of the Conservative Party, as evidenced by the jailing of yet another Tory councillor for stealing £36,000 to fund his trips to the Carlton Club and the Savoy Hotel in the hope it would help boost his career prospects.
Dorset Conservative councillor Daniel Smy, 35, racked up huge bills by enjoying chauffeur-driven trips to expensive restaurants and the exclusive Conservative gentleman’s club. According to court evidence, Mr Smy had dreams of becoming an MP and used the money to ingratiate himself with the upper echelons of the Tory party.
He claimed the exorbitant trips on expenses and forged cheques from a building society staff association he was in charge of to pay into his back account.
But his double life was exposed when the association treasurer checked the books and realised Mr Smy had racked up thousands of pounds in expenses.
He pleaded guilty to 10 counts of theft and forgery and was jailed for 12 months at Bournemouth Crown Court.
The hearing heard Smy was a councillor for West Dorset, the deputy chairman of the South Dorset Conservative Association and chairman of a parish council at the time. His day job was as the chairman of the Portman Building Society’s staff association, which was funded by workers’ subscriptions.
Realising the finance checking procedures were “lax” he started to claim back money for his jaunts to London. Alison England, prosecuting, said he enjoyed stays at the Savoy and Royal Horseguards hotels, a shopping excursion to Selfridges and a trip to the Carlton Club.
She said: “He was in a position of trust and he had the opportunity to claim expenses for travel, accommodation and food and the like. The treasurer became aware that the expenses being claimed weren’t of an appropriate level. Smy led a life of fine dining and expensive living by drinking and staying in hotels.”
Councillor Peter Reed, a former colleague of shamed Smy, said he had got carried away with his political ambitions. He said: “The Carlton Club is used by the upper echelons of the Tory party and Daniel Smy harboured ambitions of playing a role in national politics and was currying favour at the Carlton Club to try and improve his chances of a career in politics.
“When he was a councillor here it was obvious his ambitions lay beyond local politics. But he was leading this double life of trips to the light fantastic of London at weekends but doing it on the back of his fellow workers’ money.”
Smy carried out the 10 offences between 2003 and 2006. He asked for a further 86 offences to be taken into consideration by the court. The Reverend Jaqueline Birdseye, of Smy’s local parish church, said he had been involved with community projects and deserved another chance.