Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Shamed MP freed after four months

Former Labour MP Jim Devine has been released from prison where he was serving a sentence for fiddling his expenses

Expenses cheat MP Jim Devine has been released from prison after serving just a quarter of his sentence.

The former Labour MP for Livingston, who was jailed for 16 months in March after being branded a liar by his trial judge, was released from Standford Hill Prison in Kent on Monday morning.

He spent four months behind bars after submitting false invoices totalling £8,385 between 2008 and 2009 - after politicians' claims had already become front-page news.

It is understood that Devine, 58, was freed under the home detention curfew scheme, which allows prisoners who pose a low risk to be tagged and released early after serving at least a quarter of their sentence.

He is the third former MP jailed over the parliamentary expenses scandal to be released. Eric Illsley and David Chaytor have already been tagged and released under the same scheme after serving part of their sentences.

Devine told his Southwark Crown Court trial that he was acting on advice given with a "nod and a wink" by a fellow MP in a House of Commons bar. But his defence was rejected by the jury and the trial judge Mr Justice Saunders said he had been "lying in significant parts of the evidence he gave".

Devine "set about defrauding the public purse in a calculated and deliberate way", the judge said. "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 also tried to pin the blame on his former office manager, Marion Kinley, claiming she had paid herself more than £5,000 from his staffing allowance without his knowledge.

Devine will be on the home detention curfew scheme for the next four months before spending the last eight months of his sentence on probation.

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Jim Devine was excluded from the Labour Party some time ago and is no longer a member."

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