A former Labour minister on Monday pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming expenses, more than four years after first admitting that he falsified invoices in a case which calls into question the police and Parliamentary authorities.
Denis Macshane continued to receive a Parliamentary salary and expenses – and was re-elected to Parliament – despite the authorities being aware that he had admitted the fraud.
On Monday, almost four and a half years after his illegal conduct was first exposed, he admitted false accounting at the Old Bailey.
Mr MacShane received over £100,000 in allowances after the allegations appeared on top of his salary of £67,000 a year. His resignation triggered a by-election that cost around £150,000.
MacShane entered a guilty plea during a short appearance at the Old Bailey, admitting filing 19 fraudulent invoices between January 2005 and January 2008.
The former Minister for Europe admitted false accounting by putting in fake receipts for £12,900 of “research and translation” services.
However, the former Rotherham MP first admitted that he had submitted invoices signed with what he called “a nom de plume” in a letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner in July 2010, raising questions as to why it took a further three and a half years for him to be brought to justice.
MacShane, 65, systematically submitted receipts from the “European Policy Institute”, a group he subsequently described as a “loose network” with “no office, no staff, and just a post-box address.”
Mr MacShane used a name on the receipts which he explained was “a nom de plume used over the years to cover expense claims and payments from the EPI.”
The allegations about MacShane first emerged in June 2009, when questions were raised about MacShane’s expenses.
The MP was reported to the parliamentary watchdog and an inquiry began. However, in October 2010, John Lyon, the then Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, wrote to the Met Police Commissioner warning him that he thought MacShane might have committed fraud.
Mr Lyon said that he believed MacShane’s invoices “might have been produced in a way which could raise questions of possible criminality”.
However, the information gathered by Mr Lyon was not handed to the police, because it was subject to parliamentary privilege.
It remains unclear whether the letters MacShane wrote to the Commissioner would be admissible in court.
The police investigated, but decided to take no action against Mr MacShane in July 2012.
Mr Lyon then re-opened his investigation into the MP and in October 2012 his report into Mr MacShane finally emerged. MacShane was suspended from Parliament for twelve months, although would have been able to continue as an MP.
The police then re-opened their inquiry and Mr MacShane finally resigned – triggering a by-election in Rotherham.
Since April 2010, he claimed £97,946 in allowances and received an annual salary of £65,738.
Several MPs and peers were jailed following the 2009 expenses scandal.
Former Labour MPs Elliot Morley, Jim Devine, David Chaytor and Eric Illsley, were jailed following the 2009 expenses scandal, while Margaret Moran was spared jail because of mental health issues.
The Conservative peers Lord Hanningfield and Lord Taylor of Warwick also went to jail.
Sentences have ranged from nine to 18 months’ imprisonment.
MacShane became an MP in 1994, following a by-election. He was the Minister for Europe from 2002 to 2005, under Tony Blair.