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.
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Russell Brand opposes anti-Semitism after death threats: 'We must disavow all forms of prejudice that lead to exclusion and execution'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Microbial life found living on the exterior of the International Space Station, say reports
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27