jueves, 31 de marzo de 2011

Ex-MP jailed over false expenses claims - AFP

LONDON — A former Labour MP who made false expense claims has been jailed for 16 months.

Jim Devine is the third former lawmaker to be jailed over the expenses scandal.

The 57-year-old was found guilty last month of submitting fake claims for cleaning and printing work worth worth £8,385.

Sentencing him at Southwark Crown Court, Judge John Saunders criticised the ex-lawmaker for continuing to make false claims even after the scandal had erupted and expenses were under public scrutiny.

"Mr Devine set about defrauding the public purse in a calculated and deliberate way," said the judge.

"These offences constituted a gross breach of trust which, along with others, had had the effect of causing serious damage to the reputation of parliament.

"Mr Devine made his false claims at a time when he well knew the damage that was being caused to parliament by the expenses scandal, but he carried on regardless."

Devine, who has been declared bankrupt since his conviction, had told his trial that he was acting on advice given with a "nod and a wink" by a fellow lawmaker in a bar in parliament.

Dozens of parliamentarians were caught out in 2009 after The Daily Telegraph published details of claims, revealing how taxpayers' money was used for lawmakers' widescreen TVs, furnishings and even an ornamental duck house.

Under the old expenses system, lawmakers could claim thousands of pounds towards buying, furnishing and renovating a home in the capital. The system has now been changed.

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