Disgraced MP jailed for expenses fiddle still has Commons pass

Jim Devine, who made £8,000 in false claims, is excused court costs because he is bankrupt

An former MP with a criminal conviction for defrauding the taxpayer over his expenses still has a pass that allows him access to the House of Commons, an investigation has revealed.

Jim Devine, who in March was jailed for 16 months for making more than £8,000 of false expense claims, is still on probation and has only just had his electronic tag removed after being released from prison in August.

But he is still allowed to book restaurants with family in the Palace of Westminster, meet MPs informally and bring guests into the House of Commons.

Jonathan Aitken, jailed in 1999 for perverting justice, is also on the list of former MPs with passes. He said he had had the pass for eight or nine years and used it to chair a committee on the rehabilitation of offenders.

The revelations will add to pressure to reform the system of ex-MPs' access to Westminster after an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for The Independent found about one in five of the 79 MPs who applied for Former Member Passes after the 2010 election now work for companies or organisations with an interest in lobbying.

Yesterday, it emerged that Devine would be unlikely to be able to repay thousands of pounds of court costs arising from his prosecution because he was bankrupt. The former Labour MPs David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Eric Illsley, however, were ordered to repay legal aid and prosecution costs after their convictions for fiddling their expenses.

Southwark Crown Court told Chaytor, 62, the ex-MP for Bury North, and Morley, a former Environment minister and Scunthorpe MP, to each pay prosecution costs of £23,176. Illsley, the ex-MP for Barnsley Central, must repay £12,178. No orders were made against Devine, 58, former Labour MP for Livingston. The prosecution of the former MP Margaret Moran is unlikely to go ahead after a court heard she was "unfit to plead". Jim Sturman, QC, for Moran, said: "These proceedings are a continual threat to her life, not just to her liberty, and the experts agree that she is unfit to plead."

Last night, the Labour MP John Mann, who has campaigned for reform of the system, said: "This just underlines the case that the whole system needs to be reformed. These passes reinforce the image of the Commons as a gentleman's club and that undermines our democracy."

Devine could not be reached for comment.

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey fans rejoice, series five returns later this month
TV
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor