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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Labour MP Jim Devine was jailed for 16 months

Labour MP Jim Devine jailed for 16 months over expenses

Now an Ex-Labour MP Jim Devine was jailed for 16 months for
fraudulently claiming £8,385 in expenses.

Devine was last month found guilty of using false invoices
for cleaning and printing work.

The Labour MP for Livingston, 57, is the third current or
former British MP to be jailed for fiddling their expenses, but was the first
to stand trial.

The English judge, Mr Justice Saunders, said he "set
about defrauding the public purse in a calculated and deliberate way".

He was sentenced to 16 months on each of two counts to run
concurrently. He was cleared of a third count, relating to £360.

Passing sentence at the Old Bailey, Judge Saunders said:
"These offences constituted a gross breach of trust which, along with
others, had had the effect of causing serious damage to the reputation of

"Mr Devine made his false claims at a time when he well
knew the damage that was being caused to Parliament by the expenses scandal but
he carried on regardless."

He said cleaning and maintenance work claimed for by Devine
was either not done at all or not paid for by Devine, and that invoices
submitted for printing work were "entirely bogus".

The judge dismissed as false Devine's claim in court that
another MP had told him what he did was "accepted practice".

Devine had been "lying in significant parts of the
evidence that he gave", the judge said.

But, Judge Saunders added, his crime was less serious than
that of former Labour MP David Chaytor, who was jailed for 18 months after
admitting falsely claiming more than £22,000 of English taxpayers' money for
rent and IT work, and this had been taken into account.

Chaytor last month lost an appeal to have his sentenced
reduced. Former Labour MP Eric Illsley was jailed for 12 months last year after
pleading guilty to £14,000 in expenses fraud.

And Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick awaits sentencing after
being convicted by a jury in January of fraudulently claiming more than £11,000
for overnight subsistence and travel.

Devine's lawyer said he would probably serve eight months -
but could get out in four with good behaviour.

Devine had denied "wholly deliberate deceit" in
submitting his Commons expenses, claiming he was advised by another Labour MP
and by expenses officials at the Commons Fees Office, that he was allowed to
use money in his communications allowance to cover staff costs.

In mitigation, Devine's lawyer said the fraud had been
"entirely out of character" and prison would "bear heavily on
him" as he suffers high blood pressure and has lost his reputation as well
as his 30-year political career.

Devine was declared bankrupt last month, following a
separate hearing at Livingston Sheriff Court.

The insolvency order was made after he failed to pay his
former office manager Marion Kinley £35,000 for unfair dismissal.

Last year an employment tribunal heard how he bullied Miss
Kinley and made up stories to justify firing her.

During his expenses trial, Devine claimed Miss Kinley paid
herself more than £5,000 from his staffing allowance without his knowledge by
forging his signature - an allegation his legal team now concedes was not true.

Speaking to the London Times after Devine was jailed; Miss
Kinley said he was a "Walter Mitty" character who "always
exaggerated everything".

"He has bare-faced lied about people just to cover his
own back," she added.

Devine, a former psychiatric nurse and union organiser, was
chairman of the Scottish Labour Party in the 1990s. He later succeeded Robin
Cook as MP for Livingston following the former foreign secretary's death.

He was barred from standing again as a Labour candidate
after the expenses allegations emerged - but he continued to claim for
household costs even after he was charged it’s good to be a British MP, you get
all your bills paid petrol, diesel, food, cleaning, ect,ect,ect all paid for by
English tax payers.

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