Political career is over, admits Robin Baldry
FORMER Derbyshire County Council chairman Robin Baldry admitted his political career was over after being sentenced for stealing thousands of pounds from the public purse.
The 70-year-old was banned from public office for five years and given an 18-week suspended prison sentence for falsifying his expenses.
Baldry admitted two counts of theft, amounting to more than £2,200. A judge ordered him to repay the money to the council, as well as court costs of £6,340.
Derby Crown Court heard how he submitted inflated mileage claims and had claimed for meals when at catered functions.
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He also repeatedly claimed 56 miles for the round trip from his home to the Matlock headquarters of Derbyshire County Council, although the journey was 40 miles.
The offences took place between 2005 and 2010.
Outside court, Baldry said: "I will resign. After 50 years in politics, I know my political career is now over. I will be standing down as a councillor in a very short time.
"I am sorry for what has happened. My actions were careless and cavalier.
"I have not tried to line my pockets. I have carelessly handled how I filled my forms in. I should have seen the error but I didn't and I am sorry."
Justin Wigoder, prosecuting, said the two charges covered £863 subsistence and £1,400 mileage claims made by Baldry.
He said: "The most striking example was on the two occasions in August and October 2010, when he and his wife lunched at Chatsworth House with the Duke of Devonshire. Nevertheless, he submitted in due course a claim for subsistence."
Mr Wigoder said council rules clearly barred any claims when a free meal was provided.
He said 40 miles was the shortest distance for a round trip from Baldry's home to Matlock. The longest route could be 49 miles.
Mr Wigoder said: "The figure of 56 miles is longer than any logical route between home and council offices. On numerous occasions, he presented the claim regardless. He had not physically travelled that distance and accepts it was dishonest."
Peter Pimm, in mitigation, said Baldry had worked up to seven days a week as council chairman, often for between eight and 12 hours a day. During his life, he had raised £500,000 for charity.
He said: "Dishonesty tends to be related to greed and trying to line your pockets. That is not what this is about. He was slap-dash and cavalier."
Judge John Burgess told Baldry: "You were placed in a high degree of trust. The higher you are, the more fastidious you should be because expenses are less likely to be challenged.
"Your attitude – and I am quoting your words – was cavalier. In your position, you should have been setting an example."
A spokeswoman for Derbyshire County Council said: "We're pleased that the court's decision has brought an end to the matter. Mr Baldry is now disqualified from public office and is no longer a member of Derbyshire County Council.
"The vacancy created in the Buxton West division will remain until the county council elections next May."