Labour's former Europe minister faces police inquiry over expenses

A former Labour minister has become the latest MP to face a police investigation into his expenses claims after his case was referred to Scotland Yard by Parliament's sleaze watchdog.

Denis MacShane, who served as Europe minister under Tony Blair, was also suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party yesterday after it emerged that the Metropolitan Police had been asked to examine his claims by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, John Lyon.

As well as looking at the Rotherham MP's case, which had been under examination by the Standards Commissioner for more than a year, it also emerged that the Metropolitan Police were examining "a small number of other allegations" over his expenses. Three former MPs, one current MP and two peers are already defending charges that they abused the system.

Mr MacShane was criticised in 2009 over a series of revelations about his parliamentary expenses. His claims, which amounted to £125,000 over seven years, included a £20,000-a-year bill for an office located in the garage of his constituency home.

He was also criticised for claiming on eight laptop computers over three years. Records revealed he had invoiced for translation work carried out for him by the European Policy Institute, controlled by his brother.

Mr MacShane has denied any wrongdoing. Yesterday he said: "I have been informed by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards that he has written to the Metropolitan Police in connection with his inquiry into a complaint against me filed in June 2009. While I obviously regret this development I will of course co-operate fully with the police, as I have with the commissioner."

It is thought to be the first time the commissioner has passed on a case to police. The Standards and Privileges Committee, a group of MPs which endorsed Mr Lyon's decision to refer the case to Scotland Yard, agreed to the move at a meeting on Tuesday.

Mr MacShane has been one of the most vocal opponents of the reformed expenses system, overseen by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa). In August, the authority released accounts of incidents in which its staff had been abused by MPs after a Freedom of Information request. Following the revelations, Mr MacShane admitted he had bought an Ipsa volunteer a box of chocolates after reducing them to tears during an argument.

"This all stems from the very hectic, tense, exhaustive period just after the election," he said at the time, adding that he disputed the authority's account of events.

He reportedly added that Ipsa "should not be keeping secret files on MPs without informing them" and that it would be easier to "learn Chinese" than master the new expenses system.

The Labour Party was quick to act after Scotland Yard confirmed it was to investigate Mr MacShane's claims, immediately withdrawing the whip from the long-serving MP.

"The Labour Party has today suspended Denis MacShane from the Parliamentary Labour Party and the whip pending the outcome of any investigation," a spokesman said.

Another MP was also censured for a breach of parliamentary expenses rules yesterday. Bill Wiggin, the Tory MP for North Herefordshire, was told to make an embarrassing apology to the House of Commons after he claimed £11,000 for mortgage payments on the wrong home.

He claimed the sum for his property in Ledbury, rather than his second home in London. The Parliamentary Standards and Privileges Committee said no public money had been lost as a result of the mistake, but it did order him to pay back £4,009 in telephone, electricity and maintenance bills wrongly claimed.

"As requested by the committee I have apologised for my mistakes, which were purely accidental, and paid back the money they say I overclaimed six years ago," Mr Wiggin said last night.

"The committee clarified that although I did not break the rules, as they were then, they have on the balance of probability estimated that I overclaimed. I have immediately complied with the committee's request."

Parliamentarians in court

Elliot Morley

The former Labour MP for Scunthorpe has been charged with two counts of false accounting in relation to "shadow mortgage" repayments.



David Chaytor

The former Labour MP for Bury North will appear in court after being charged in February with three counts of false accounting. It is alleged that he claimed £1,950 for IT services using false invoices.



Jim Devine

The former Labour MP for Livingstone will appear in court accused of claiming £3,240 for cleaning services and £5,505 for stationery.



Eric Illsley

The current MP for Barnsley Central, who has been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party, will appear in court accused of three charges under the Theft Act.



Lord Hanningfield

The peer, who is currently suspended from the Conservative Party, is accused of submitting claims "for expenses to which he knew he was not entitled".



Lord Taylor

Another peer currently suspended from the Tory Party, he is charged with six counts of false accounting in relation to alleged claims for £24,300 in subsistence costs.

* All six deny the charges against them.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat