Up to four MPs and peers are to face fraud charges over the expenses scandal by early in the New Year, it emerged today.
In a move which shook through the political establishment, detectives have referred case files on four parliamentarians to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Police believe there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges in each of the cases, sources said.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, is expected to rubber stamp charges against the politicians by February.
Such a development would result in the highly embarrassing spectacle of MPs and peers appearing in court before next May’s expected General Election.
The politicians could face charges of fraud or false accounting, with maximum penalties of ten or seven years. There was no official word today on which cases had been sent to the CPS.
However it is known that police believe there is strong evidence against Labour MPs Elliot Morley and David Chaytor, and Labour peer Baroness Uddin, and that such cases were likely to be in the first batch of files to be considered by prosecution lawyers.
Other politicians believed to be under police investigation include Labour MP Jim Devine, Lord Hanningfield and Lord Clarke of Hampstead.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘The Metropolitan Police Service has today delivered four main files of evidence relating to parliamentary expenses to the Crown Prosecution Service.
‘The files relate to four people, from both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and will now be subject to CPS consideration on whether there should be any charges.
‘A small number of cases remain under investigation.’