Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

MP Jim Devine 'devastated' over expenses charges

Mr Devine said he was 'astonished' at the charges

Livingston MP Jim Devine has said he was "absolutely devastated" at being charged for falsely claiming parliamentary expenses.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced that the Labour politician had been accused of dishonestly claiming for cleaning services and stationery.

Fellow Labour MPs Elliott Morley and David Chaytor have also been charged, along with Tory peer Lord Hanningfield.

The legal move follows the publication of MPs' expenses last May.

Mr Devine said he could not understand why new allegations had been raised after he had earlier been investigated and cleared over shelving and rewiring work he had claimed for previously.

Speaking from his home in Blackburn, West Lothian, the MP said: "I am absolutely astonished and devastated at the decision that has been taken today.

I don't understand why I was picked on
Jim Devine MP

"Two new charges have been brought, both of which are easily explained and both of which I'll be explaining in court."

He added: "I had some 13 witnesses to the shelving and other work and only one person involved in this was questioned."

Mr Devine said he should have been told by the House of Commons why he was facing a criminal case.

"If you look at the Legg report, I'm being questioned over two receipts that amounted to about £8,000.

Expenses claims

"I don't understand why I was picked on," said Mr Devine.

The 56-year-old was elected MP for Livingston in West Lothian in September 2005, following the death of leading politician and former minister Robin Cook.

He had previously been Mr Cook's election agent, and had worked as head of health for the Scottish branch of the public sector union Unison.

DEVINE CHARGES
The Act: Charged under Section 17 of the Theft Act 1968
Charge One: Between July 2008 and April 2009 Jim Devine dishonestly claimed for cleaning services using false invoices
Charge Two: In March 2009 Jim Devine dishonestly claimed for stationery using false invoices

The Westminster parliament had been due to publish expenses claims of all 646 MPs dating back to 2004 in July last year.

However, this all changed when the Daily Telegraph started publishing details of claims by individual MPs in early May.

A month after the spotlight came on MPs expense claims, Mr Devine was deselected by the Labour Party from standing at the next general election.

After learning the news on Friday, Mr Devine told the media: "I fully expect to be cleared. I've got to consider, to discuss with my lawyers, how I'm going to react to this.

"I've always handed in receipts for expenses for stuff. I've tried to play by the book.

"I made a mistake with the shelving, I accept that. From my side I don't think I've done anything wrong.

"If I had done something wrong, would I have allowed the police access to every receipt, to everything? I'm astonished."



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SEE ALSO
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05 Feb 10 |  UK Politics

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