Former Labour minister Denis MacShane pleads guilty to fraud over £13,000 Parliamentary expenses

Court hears how money was used to fund trips to Europe under banner of 'research and translation' work

The former Labour minister Denis MacShane has pleaded guilty to fraud over his Parliamentary expenses.

Once the minister for Europe under Tony Blair, MacShane resigned as an MP last year before he could face punishment for submitting fake receipts amounting to £12,900 of taxpayers’ money.

He used the money to pay for trips to the continent, including one to judge a literary competition in Paris, and claimed the money back citing “research and translation” services.

Sentencing has been adjourned until 19 December, and Mr Justice Sweeney said that “all sentencing options remain open” to the court.

The maximum sentence for false accounting is seven years, though MacShane is expected to receive less than that.

Today’s guilty plea comes after a period of investigation spanning more than four years. MacShane’s accounts first came to the attention of Parliamentary authorities at the height of the 2009 expenses scandal.

Commons officials identified potential criminal activity and referred the information to police within months, but the case was complicated by the long-standing principle of Parliamentary privilege.

Under this rule, detectives could not be given access to damning correspondence with the standards commissioner in which MacShane described how signatures on receipts from the European Policy Institute (EPI) had been faked.

The EPI was controlled by MacShane and the general manager's signature was not genuine.

One letter, dated October 2009, described how he drew funds from the EPI so he could serve on a book judging panel in Paris.

But the letters only emerged in November last year after Scotland Yard said it was taking no further action and the cross-party standards committee published a report recommending a 12-month suspension from the House.

MacShane, who served as Europe minister under Tony Blair, resigned as MP for Rotherham before the punishment could be imposed.

Police re-opened their probe in the light of the fresh evidence and the 65-year-old was charged in May - even though the letters are still not thought to be admissible in court.

The offence covered 19 receipts that MacShane filed between January 2005 and January 2008.

MacShane is understood to accept that he made a “grotesque mistake”.

But he insists he did not make any personal gain from the claims.

He has indicated that he told the police “everything and more” that he told the Standards Commissoner before the criminal case was initially dropped.

Mr Justice Sweeney told the politician as he stood in the dock in Court Number 2: “You will understand, I'm sure, that all sentencing options remain open to the court.”

The maximum sentence for false accounting is seven years - although MacShane is likely to get less.

He joins a list of politicians prosecuted as a result of the expenses scandal that erupted in 2009.

They include fellow former Labour minister Elliot Morley, as well as Jim Devine, David Chaytor and Eric Illsley.

Tories to fall foul of the law were Lord Hanningfield and Lord Taylor of Warwick.

Sentences have ranged from nine to 18 months.

Another ex-Labour MP, Margaret Moran, was spared prison and given a supervision order instead after suffering mental health problems.

There are not believed to be any more cases in the pipeline.

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea