11 Feb 2011

Jim Devine: the obvious question on MPs’ expenses

Krishnan Guru-Murthy remembers asking MP Jim Devine the obvious question on expenses, in an interview which was later used as evidence in court.

Sometimes an interview question can be too clever by half.

The temptation is to skip ahead before asking the basics.

I had watched Jim Devine being interviewed by the other news organisations before we got our chance. And the desire to lynch him seemed to mean people weren’t asking the obvious one: what did you claim for? And did you actually spend that money on what you said it was for?

But I have to admit I was taken aback by Jim Devine’s apparent willingness to answer these questions. Whether this was because he genuinely felt he had done nothing wrong or because he was already laying the ground work for a possible criminal defence we’ll never know.

But his admission that he had claimed for things that had never actually been purchased and that he had obtained what must have been a false receipt was astonishing as it unfolded before us. And it was a lesson for me at least that it’s always best to start at the beginning.