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MP Illsley faces resignation calls

Disgraced Eric Illsley is under massive pressure to quit as an MP after admitting dishonestly claiming £14,000 in parliamentary expenses.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband both demanded the member for Barnsley Central go voluntarily after it emerged he could keep his job and salary even if a jail term is imposed.

Illsley became the first sitting member convicted for abusing expenses when he changed his pleas to guilty at the start of his trial. He had previously denied dishonestly claiming a total of more than £25,000, arguing that lax Commons allowances were designed to "supplement" the income of politicians.

But his barrister William Coker QC said his client admitted wrongly obtaining a revised sum of about £14,500. The claims were made for council tax, telephone usage, service charges and maintenance, and insurance and repairs at his second home in Renfrew Road, Kennington, south London.

In a five-minute hearing, the disgraced MP, who has already been suspended by the Labour Party, sat in the dock rubbing his face and frowning. He spoke only to confirm his pleas, saying "guilty" to the three charges of false accounting relating to three years of expenses on his second home in London.

Prosecutor Peter Wright QC said the Crown accepted the revised figure for the dishonest claims. The judge adjourned the hearing for four weeks for a pre-sentence report.

Illsley left court alone and refused to answer questions from journalists. But Simon Clements, head of the Crown Prosecution Service Special Crime Division, said: "This was a significant sum of money and the grossly inflated claims he submitted could not be attributed to an oversight or accounting error - indeed he claimed that the expenses system was a way of supplementing members' salaries.

"By his guilty pleas he has accepted that he was dishonest in making these claims. As an elected representative, Eric Illsley took advantage of the trust placed in him by his constituents to act honourably on their behalf. Instead, he siphoned off public money into his own pockets and betrayed those who rightly expected the highest standards of integrity from him as a Member of Parliament."

The Representation of the People Act 1981 disqualifies MPs if they receive a custodial sentence of 12 months or more. In those circumstances, their seat is automatically vacated and a by-election held. However, there is no set mechanism for expelling members who are handed shorter jail terms.

The Commons authorities indicated that the whole House would need to pass a resolution removing him from his seat. Tory Peter Baker is believed to be the last MP expelled in 1954, after he was convicted of fraud.


From Belfast Telegraph