Expenses cheat MP Chris Davies has been stripped of his seat, plunging the next Conservative leader into a perilous by-election.
A recall petition easily cleared the ten per cent threshold for triggering a by-election, with 19 per cent of local voters – a total of 10,005 people – demanding Mr Davies be removed.
The move follows the Tory backbencher’s conviction for expenses offences, when he admitted submitting a false claim at crown court.
It is the second time an MP has been successfully recalled, after Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was unseated following her conviction for perverting the course of justice over a driving offence.
Mr Davies claimed he had made “a mistake” over his expenses claims, insisting there had been no attempt “make any financial gain” after being fined £1,500 in April.
But The Independent revealed how a whistleblower, former staffer Sarah Lewis, had been “shocked’ by the full extent of his expenses fiddling.
© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media LimitedThe Liberal Democrats are well-placed to take the seat, having held it until 2010. The party was only 8,000 vote behind at the last election, in 2017.
Defeat for the Conservatives would shrink the party’s working majority to just three – when three Tory MPs have said they could join a vote-of-no confidence to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Justice Edis said: “It seems shocking that when confronted with a simple accounting problem, you thought to forge documents.
“That is an extraordinary thing for a man with your position and your background to do.”
He added: “There was no error here. What you did was done quite deliberately and it must have taken some time to create your fake documents.”
Jane Dodds, the Lib Dem candidate in Brecon and Radnorshire, said Mr Davies’ demise presented “a golden opportunity to do things differently”.
“Thousands of residents across Brecon and Radnorshire have taken the chance to demand better than a Westminster politics that fails to take their concerns seriously,” she said.
With little more than four weeks until Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt replaces Theresa May, the by-election is unlikely to take place before the new prime minister is in place.
Ms Lewis told The Independent that she discovered Mr Davies had attempted to claim £700 worth of photos for his office walls through two smaller invoices for “furniture and pictures”.
She said, as was testified in court, that Mr Davies had made up dates and invoice numbers on the documents.
And she revealed how she unearthed a hole in his expenses within months of him taking office, which led to the MP’s expenses card being suspended by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).