DISGRACED peer Lord Hanningfield has been ordered to pay back more than £37,000 or face 15 months behind bars.

The former Essex County Council leader, formerly Paul White, was convicted of falsely claiming £13,379 in House of Lords expenses in May last year and sentenced to nine months in jail.

Now he has been ordered to repay an additional £37,158 after a hearing at Southwark Crown Court.

Prosecutors successfully applied to claim back property obtained in the six years before Lord Hanningfield was charged, under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

He has six months to pay or faces being jailed for 15 months.

Lord Hanningfield, 72, who led Essex County Council for ten years before his arrest in 2010, served nine weeks of a nine-month sentence after his conviction last year.

He had to repay the money he fiddled before he was allowed to return to the House of Lords in March.

Mike Mackrory, leader of the Lib Dem opposition at Essex County Council, said: “I think it is absolutely right he should pay back those expenses.

“Clearly he was found guilty of misuse of public funds and he should pay it back in full.”

Lord Hanningfield had claimed thousands of pounds from the House of Lords for hotel stays in London despite being chauffeured back to his bungalow, in West Hanningfield, in an Essex County Council-funded car.

He also falsely claimed first-class rail journeys he never took and for petrol travelling between Chelmsford rail station and his home.

  • A City of London Police investigation into Lord Hanningfield’s Essex County Council expenses is ongoing and he remains on bail.