The parliamentary expenses scandal, which shook the British political establishment three years ago, returned to haunt Westminster with a senior Labour Party M.P. and former minister Denis MacShane being forced to resign after being found guilty of claiming thousands of pounds in expenses.
Mr. MacShane, who was Europe minister in Tony Blair’s government, resigned as he faced an unprecedented year-long ban from the House of Commons. The Labour Party suspended him declaring that his career as an M.P. was “effectively over”.
The move followed a report of the cross-party Parliamentary Committee on Standards and Privileges which said that Mr. MacShane “plainly intended to deceive” the authorities by submitting “misleading” invoices.
Though Mr. MacShane returned the money, the committee said that his offence was so grave that he must be suspended from the House for 12 months without pay.
“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 twelve months”, it said.
The case related to his claims for “research and translation” work carried out by the European Policy Institute (EPI) which the committee described as a “loose network”. It had no office, no salaried staff and its bank account was controlled by Mr. MacShane himself.
“The sum claimed was not a sum determined by the general manager of the EPI... 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”, it said.
Mr. MacShane (64) apologised but said he was going through a personal crisis at the time as his daughter had died in an accident and his marriage was on the rocks.