The parliamentary expenses scandal that shook the British political establishment three years ago returned to haunt MPs on Friday as a senior Labour Party MP and former minister Denis MacShane was forced to resign after being found guilty of falsely claiming nearly £13,000.
His resignation came as he faced a 12-month ban from the House of Commons.
The Parliamentary Committee on Standards and Privileges found that Mr MacShane, who was minister for Europe in Tony Blair’s government, submitted 19 false invoices which were "plainly intended to deceive" Parliament's expenses authority.
Describing it as the ``gravest case’’ of expenses abuse brought to its notice, the committee recommended his suspension from the House for 12 months .
``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.
Acting swiftly, meanwhile, Labour suspended him from the party. Mr MacShane said he was considering his position, suggesting that he might step down as MP.
Labour called the committee’s finding as ``very serious’’ and said Mr MacShane’s ``career as a Labour MP is effectively over’’.
`` We will be talking to Denis MacShane about his future and the best course of action for him and for his constituency," it said.
Mr MacShane apologised to the leadership for ``any embarrassment’’ .
"I am consulting family and friends as I consider my position and study the full implications of the report,’’ he said.
The case relates to his claims between 2004-2008 for "research and translation" work carried out by the European Policy Institute which the committee described as a "loose network". It had no office, no salaried staff and its bank account 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.
The expenses scandal, which broke in 2009, involved MPs from across the political spectrum.