Published on 2 Nov 2012 Sections

Labour’s MacShane resigns after expenses ruling

Denis MacShane resigned after 18 years as an MP after a cross-party committee of MPs recommended he face a 12-month suspension over false expenses claims.

The MP knowingly submitting false expense clams, effectively by sending invoices to himself from a company he controlled then claiming the amount as an expense, a House of Commons committee ruled toda

“I have decided for the sake of my wonderful constituency of Rotherham and my beloved Labour Party to resign as an MP,” Mr MacShane said in a statement on his website today following the released of the parliamentary report.

He indicated he would apply for the Chiltern Hundreds or step down as guided by the House of Commons authorities.

“I have been overwhelmed by messages of support for my work as an MP on a range of issues but I accept that my parliamentary career is over,” Mr MacShane said. “I appreciate the committee’s ruling that I made no personal gain and I regret my foolishness in the manner I chose to be reimbursed for work including working as the prime minister’s personal envoy in Europe.”

“I love the House of Commons and I hope by resigning I can serve by showing that MPs must take responsibility for their mistakes and accept the consequences of being in breach of the House rules,” he said, adding that he would not be giving interviews.

Earlier in the day, a report by the committee on standards and privileges said Mr MacShane knowingly submitted 19 false claims over a four-year period. Mr MacShane, a Glasgow-born MP since 1994 and former minister for Europe, was effectively “sending the invoice to himself and writing his own cheque”, the parliamentary commissioner for standards said.

‘Gravest’ case so far

Kevin Barron MP, the Labour chair of the committe, said it was the “gravest case” on expenses to be adjudicated so far. As such, the committee recommended that Mr MacShane be suspended from the House of Commons for 12 months, losing his salary and pension contributions for a year.

Mr MacShane was suspended from Labour earlier today before he announced his resignation.

While Mr MacShane has been cleared of criminal charges, the committee found Mr MacShane submitted false invoices over a period of four financial years and noted additional breaches of the code of conduct, including claims for activities which were not supported by the expenses scheme. During one three-year period, Mr MacShane expensed eight computers saying the “march of technology” required him to keep up to date with the latest equipment. The committee said he had given one taxpayer-funded computer to an intern who left and bought another subsidised computer for a new intern.

Between 2004 and 2008, Mr MacShane submitted 19 invoices totalling £12,900 for research and translation work carried out by the European Policy Institute, which he ran without additional directors, support staff or any offices.

“This is so far from what would be acceptable in any walk of life that we recommend that Mr MacShane be suspended from the service of the House for 12 months,” the committee said.

“We also considered his failure to cooperate with the investigation to be significant.”

‘Writing his own cheque’

The parliamentary commissioner for standards said some of Mr MacShane’s expense claims covered travel, hospitality and thousands of pounds in book purchases – but instead of receipts Mr MacShane submitted estimates. The commissioner also found the European Policy Institute’s bank account was controlled by Mr MacShane and that a signature on invoices purporting to be from the institute’s general manager was Mr MacShane’s signature.

“The sum claimed was not a sum determined by the general manager of the European Policy Institute … It was the sum of money entered on his computer by Mr MacShane himself. In effect, he was sending the invoice to himself and writing his own cheque,” the commissioner found.

He has since repaid the entire £12,900 of expense claims.

Mr MacShane had been previously suspended from the Labour party while police investigated his expenses claims, but he had the whip reinstated when the criminal inquiry was dropped in July.

A spokesperson said: “These are very serious findings concerning Denis MacShane and we accept his statement this morning that his career as a Labour MP is effectively over.” He served as minister for Europe from 2002 to 2005. The accusations of false invoices related largely to the period when Mr MacShane was no longer minister for Europe but still considered himself a European “envoy.”

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