MacShane faces Commons ban over 'gravest' expenses fraud

Nov 2, 2012

Labour MP could face another police probe over expenses claims for his work in Europe

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THE parliamentary career of former Labour minister Denis MacShane appears to be over after Westminster’s standards committee called for him to be banned from the Commons for a year for submitting 19 expenses invoices that were "plainly intended to deceive".
Kevin Barron, chairman of the cross-party committee, described it as the "gravest case which has come to the committee for adjudication".
The invoices in question were submitted between 2004 and 2008 and totalled £12,900. They were claims for "research and translation" work carried out by the European Policy Institute (EPI).
However the committee found that the claims also covered travel, hospitality and other items, consisted of broad estimates and were plainly "false". The Guardian reports that MacShane allowed interns to keep laptops, paid for by parliament, when their placements came to an end.
The BBC notes that the EPI was a "loose network" with no staff and a bank account run by MacShane. "In effect, he was sending the invoice to himself and writing his own cheque," said Barron.
MacShane now faces being suspended from the Commons for 12 months, with loss of pay and pension rights. But his political career appears to be dead with the Labour Party suspending him and a party spokesman saying he would be expected to resign his Rotherham seat.
In a statement, MacShane, who has repaid the £12,900 in full, said he was "shocked and saddened" by the findings and blamed the BNP for waging "a three-year campaign" against him.
If he does not resign, he could carry on as an independent until 2015, says The Spectator. "This underlines the need for legislation allowing the recall of MPs by their constituents."
The parliamentary probe came three years after MacShane was reported to the watchdog. "The investigation was delayed because of a police enquiry that was only resolved last July. It was not clear why the police enquiry was terminated without charges," said The Daily Telegraph.
However, political blogger Guido Fawkes suggests that MacShane could still face criminal charges. "Police could not use the evidence gathered by the Committee during their investigation because it was subject to parliamentary privilege. Now that it has been published however it is no longer privileged and can be used by the forces of the law."
He added that a new complaint had been made to the Met Police.

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