Friday 23 February 2018

First MEP jailed for expenses fraud

Eric Illsley arriving at court in London yesterday
Eric Illsley arriving at court in London yesterday

Sam Marsden in London

A former Labour MP was jailed yesterday, and a second is facing a prison sentence, after both were convicted of fiddling their parliamentary expenses.

Eric Illsley (55) was jailed for 12 months for dishonestly obtaining some £14,500 (€17,100) of taxpayers' money, and Jim Devine (57) was found guilty of making false claims worth more than £8,000.

Illsley, who stood down this week as the MP for Barnsley Central, received an average of £100 a week in expenses more than he was entitled to over a three-year period.

His fraud only came to an end when the Commons authorities changed their rules to require MPs to provide receipts for all claims over £25.

Devine, the former Labour MP for Livingston in Scotland, was convicted of two charges of false accounting after he submitted false invoices for cleaning and printing work totalling £8,385.

A jury at London's Southwark Crown Court agreed with the prosecution that he showed a "woeful inadequacy" in abiding by the principles of selflessness, integrity and honesty expected of MPs.

Illsley became the first sitting member of parliament convicted of expenses fraud when he pleaded guilty last month to three counts of false accounting. Despite huge pressure he did not quit as an MP until Tuesday night.

The former MP admitted to probation officers that he did not need the extra money he falsely claimed and attributed his actions to greed, Southwark Crown Court heard yesterday.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Saunders said Illsley bore a small but significant part of the responsibility for the public's loss of faith in MPs following the expenses scandal.

Illsley, of Westmoor Crescent, Pogmoor, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, showed little reaction as he was sentenced. He could be released after three months under early release rules for non-violent prisoners.

Devine, of West Main Street, Bathgate, West Lothian, who was the first MP to stand trial over the expenses scandal, will be sentenced at a later date.

Irish Independent

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