Three MPs and one Lord have been charged with fraud offences including false accounting and creating fake invoices.
MPs Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine and peer Lord Hanningfield are to be charged over their expenses claims, the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC announced today.
BREAKING NEWS: Lord Hanningfild has just resigned his position as a front bench business spokeman and the Conservative Party have withdrawn the Peer's whip.
Sources close to the Metropolitan Police suggest more may be charged.
All charges are under the Theft Act, Mr Starmer said one further case was still being investigated, while there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against Labour peer Lord Clarke of Hampstead.
The politicians will face City Of Westminster Court on 11th March - false accounting carries a maximum jail sentence of seven years.
Complaints from members of the public sparked the high level investigation by senior Scotland Yard officers and lawyers back in May last year. Files on six Parliamentarians suspected of the worst excesses of the expenses system were passed to the CPS in November and December.
Starmer said the issue of Parliamentary Privilege, where an MP or Peer can speak freely in the Houses without threat of legal action, was uncertain and "would be tested in the courts."
The former Agriculture Minister and Labour MP for Scunthorpe faces two counts under the Theft Act 1968 of dishonestly claiming expenses.
The first count alleges that between April 2004 and February 2006, Mr Morley dishonestly claimed mortgage expenses of £14,428 for a house in Winterton, Lincolnshire. The second count alleges that between March 2006 and November 2007 Mr Morley dishonestly claimed mortgage expenses of £16,000 for the same property when there was no longer a mortgage on that property.
The Bury North MP faces three charges under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 for false accounting.
The first count alleges that in May 2006 Mr Chaytor dishonestly claimed £1,950 for computer services by using false invoices. The second count alleges that between September 2005 and September 2006 Mr Chaytor dishonestly claimed £12,925 for renting a property in Regency Street, London, when he was in fact its owner. The third charge alleges that between September 2007 and January 2008 Mr Chaytor dishonestly claimed £5,425, purportedly for renting a property in Bury, Lancashire, from his mother.
The Livingston MP faces two charges under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 for false accounting.
The first count alleges that between July 2008 and April 2009 Mr Devine dishonestly claimed £3,240 for cleaning services using false invoices. The second count alleges that in March 2009 Mr Devine dishonestly claimed £5,505 for stationery using false invoices.
The Conservative Peer, who is also leader of Essex County Council, faces six charges under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 for false accounting.
The charges allege that between March 2006 and May 2009, he dishonestly submitted claims for expenses to which he knew he was not entitled. The allegations focus on numerous claims for overnight expenses for staying in London when records show he was driven home and did not stay in the capital.
Dark days for Westminster
Today's shocking charges mark the end of a disturbing and damming week for Westminster.
Yesterday's Sir Thomas Legg slammed the activities of MPs and the expenses system, condemning it as "deeply flawed" and operated in a "culture of deference" - hundreds of MPs were ordered to repay a total of £1.12 million, yet the inquiry cost more.
Only about £800,000 has so far been returned to the public purse. Some MPs are standing down at the next election and may refuse to cough up - Harriet Harman, the Leader of the House, has set a repayment deadline for 22 February.