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.

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
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