Labour selects candidate for Barnsley seat

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The Independent Online

The Labour Party has chosen its candidate for the expected by-election in Barnsley Central.

The safe Labour seat is currently held by the disgraced Eric Illsley, who has admitted dishonestly claiming more than £14,000 in expenses.

Illsley has confirmed he will stand down as an MP, triggering the by-election in the seat he has held for more than 20 years.

But as he has not formally resigned from the Commons, the by-election has not yet been called and no date has been set.

This morning, the Labour Party confirmed former soldier Dan Jarvis was selected as its candidate at a meeting in Barnsley last night.

Illsley, 55, announced he was quitting as an MP after his conviction earlier this month.

He said he "deeply, deeply" regretted his actions and would be resigning before his sentencing next month.

In a statement issued by his office earlier this month, Illsley said: "I have begun to wind down my parliamentary office, following which I will resign from Parliament before my next court appearance."

Illsley, who had already been suspended by the Labour Party, became the first sitting member convicted for abusing expenses when he changed his pleas to guilty at the start of his trial.

He had previously argued that lax Commons allowances were designed to "supplement" the income of politicians.

The dishonest claims - totalling around £14,500 - were made for council tax, telephone usage, service charges and maintenance, and insurance and repairs at his second home in Renfrew Road, Kennington, south London.

The judge ordered the hearing to be adjourned for at least four weeks for a pre-sentence report.

It is understood Illsley was given an ultimatum that he would face a cross-party expulsion motion unless he went voluntarily.

Mr Jarvis said: "Barnsley is a great community with a proud history and I'm honoured that local Labour Party members have chosen me as their candidate for Barnsley Central.

"The Tory-Lib Dem Government is cutting too fast and too deep and they haven't got a plan for growth and jobs in Barnsley. This by-election is a chance for the people of Barnsley to send a clear message to David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

"I will always stand up for Barnsley and do the right thing for this community."

A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said the party had received expressions of interest from a number of potential candidates but the decision has not been made.

He said the party was looking forward to a "positive and strong" campaign.

Illsley retained the seat last year with a majority of 11,093. The Lib Dems beat the Tories to the runners-up spot by just six votes.

A spokesman for the Conservatives said the party is waiting until the writ has been issued for the by-election before it selects its candidate.

The BNP has announced it will field a candidate.