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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before