Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Former MP guilty of expenses fiddle

Jim Devine leaves Southwark Crown Court in London after he was found guilty of making false expense claims

Former Labour MP Jim Devine has been found guilty of fiddling his expenses.

Devine, 57, who held the Livingston seat, submitted false invoices for cleaning and printing work totalling £8,385.

He was found guilty by a jury at Southwark Crown Court of two charges of false accounting. He was cleared of one other count relating £360 for cleaning work.

The former backbencher, of West Main Street, Bathgate, West Lothian, was the first MP to stand trial in the wake of the expenses scandal.

The jury of six men and six women took two hours and 45 minutes to agree with the prosecution that on the two counts Devine showed a "woeful inadequacy" in abiding by the core principles expected of MPs.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said the case against Devine was "very straightforward".

The former MP made the fraudulent claims "with a view to gain for himself, or with an intent to cause loss to another - the public purse".

The prosecutor said a guide known as the Green Book was readily available to MPs and clearly set out the rules and regulations on submitting expenses that must relate to parliamentary duties. It lists the fundamental principles MPs should adhere to when making expenses claims, Mr Wright told the court.

"These are based on concepts of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership," he said. "We say these are qualities of which Mr Devine demonstrated a woeful inadequacy."

Devine was granted unconditional bail by Mr Justice Saunders, the trial judge, and he will be sentenced in due course.

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