Nov 2 2012
Former Labour minister Denis MacShane is to be suspended from the Commons for 12 months after the Westminster sleaze watchdog found he had wrongly claimed thousands of pounds in expenses.
The Labour Party declared the MP's career to be "effectively over" after a damning report by the Standards and Privileges Committee detailed how he had knowingly submitted 19 false invoices over a four-year period that were "plainly intended to deceive" Parliament's expenses authority. The committee said it was the "gravest case" it had dealt with.
It was impossible to say how much Mr MacShane had claimed "outside the rules", the committee said, but it "may have been in the order of £7,500". His punishment reflected that his actions had been "so far from what would be acceptable in any walk of life".
In a report, it said: "He has expressed his regret, and repaid the money wrongly claimed. But this does not excuse his behaviour in knowingly submitting 19 false invoices over a period of four financial years which were plainly intended to deceive the Parliamentary expenses authorities."
Mr MacShane previously had the whip withdrawn by Labour when allegations from the British National Party that he abused his expenses were taken up for investigation by Scotland Yard in September 2010. He was reinstated in July when the Metropolitan Police said they were taking no further action.
Labour suspended him from the party and said it would be talking to him about "the best course of action" for him and his Rotherham constituency, which faces having no MP for a year.
In a statement, Mr MacShane said the BNP had won a "three-year campaign to destroy my political career". He stressed that the police investigation had not gone anywhere and that the Standards and Privileges Committee "notes that there is no question of personal gain".
Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon, whose investigations into Mr MacShane's conduct led to the report, said Mr MacShane had breached the rules and Code of Conduct for MPs in "an extremely serious way".
The MP entered 19 "misleading" expenses claims for research and translation services from a body called the European Policy Institute, signed by its supposed general manager. However, the institute did not exist "in this form" by the time in question and the general manager's signature was provided by Mr MacShane himself or someone else "under his authority".
The Commissioner added: "In effect, he was sending the invoice to himself and writing his own cheque. The claims were paid out unchallenged by the House authorities and the money put into a separate bank account which Mr MacShane controlled."