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MacShane: My jail time in Belmarsh

Jailed former minister Denis MacShane has told how he felt someone "had it in for me" after he spent six weeks in high-security Belmarsh prison before being moved to Brixton, rather than doing his time in an open jail like other expenses-fiddling politicians.

In a diary of his time behind bars, published in the Mail on Sunday, Mr MacShane recalled how he was locked up alongside gangsters and killers - including Soho nail bomber David Copeland - as he spent Christmas in Belmarsh last year.

And he revealed that jailed Polly Peck tycoon and former Conservative Party donor Asil Nadir read the lesson to fellow-inmates at the Christmas Day church service inside the south-east London jail.

The former Labour MP for Rotherham was given a six-month jail sentence for making b ogus expenses claims worth £12,900.

In his diaries, Mr MacShane complains of being denied writing implements and access to phones in jail and being fed "industrial turkey (and) a tiny cocktail sausage with a bit of bacon and a smidgen of stuffing" for Christmas dinner.

And he reveals that at both Belmarsh and Brixton jails, warders initially addressed him as Ian McShane - perhaps muddling him up with the Lovejoy and Deadwood actor.

Mr MacShane was jailed for filing fake receipts to cover trips to Europe, but insisted he did not personally profit from it.

In his diaries, he says that fellow-inmates were "baffled" that he should be locked up alongside them, given the scale of his offence.

And he says he told lags about the methods used by other MPs to rack up far larger sums through their expenses claims while remaining within the rules in force at the time, concluding: "Dear, oh dear, why didn't I claim my expenses like other profiteering MPs?"

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