Jury retires in ex-MP expenses trial

The jury in the trial of a former MP accused of fiddling his expenses retired to consider its verdict today.

Jim Devine, 57, who held a seat in the House of Commons for Livingston in Scotland is on trial at Southwark Crown Court for falsely claiming almost £9,000 from the public purse.



The former Labour backbencher, of West Main Street, Bathgate, West Lothian, denies three charges of false accounting.



Count one is in respect of two invoices from Tom O'Donnell Hygiene and Cleaning of £180 each.



The second refers to three other invoices on Tom O'Donnell headed paper for £360, £360 and £2,160.



In total the amount he is accused of falsely claiming for cleaning services between July 2008 and May 2009 therefore equals £3,240.



The third count alleges that between March 2009 and April 2009, Mr Devine dishonestly claimed £5,505 for stationery from Armstrong Printing using two false invoices.



Mr Justice Saunders, the trial judge, sent away the jury of six men and six women this afternoon after going through the facts of the case and points of law.



Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, told jurors during the trial the case against Devine was "very straight-forward".



He said the former MP made the claims "with a view to gain for himself, or with an intent to cause loss to another - the public purse".



Referring to a claim he made for printing costs, he said: "It was merely a device used by Mr Devine in which to receive a substantial amount of public money to which he was not entitled."



He added: "The money he received from the fees office was sufficient to extinguish his overdraft."



Mr Wright said the expenses guide, known as the Green Book, listed the fundamental principles MPs should adhere to when making expenses claims.



He said: "These are based on concepts of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.



"We say these are qualities of which Mr Devine demonstrated a woeful inadequacy."



Gavin Millar QC, defending, said to the jury: "Jim Devine asks you to give him no special treatment when you discuss this case."



The barrister also urged them not to set an even higher bar, saying: "There maybe a temptation in this case to apply a more demanding standard of honesty because he was an MP."



Mr Millar said if Devine wanted to clear his overdraft, he would not falsify invoices to the tune of just a few hundred pounds.



He said: "Why would Mr Devine go to the lengths of photocopying a blank invoice and persuading someone to right a lie on it for £180.



"The Crown can't have their cake and eat it.



"Either he wanted to get rid of his overdraft of thousands and thousands of pounds or he didn't.



"£180 is hardly going to make a difference."



Mr Millar told the jury that the cleaning receipts were all written out by cleaning staff or Mr O'Donnell, and referred to work that was carried out.



Dealing with the receipts for printing, Mr Millar said Devine was told by a fellow MP that he was able to transfer money from his communication allowance to cover his staffing costs.



The barrister said it was unsurprising his former colleagues have not backed him up.



"MPs have had enough of the expenses scandal," he said.



"Those that have survived it want to distance themselves as much as possible.



"That includes distancing themselves from Jim Devine."





The trial was adjourned to tomorrow, when the jury will resume its deliberations.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child