Disgraced ex-Yorkshire MP Denis MacShane hit out at prosecutors pursuing “celebrity” cases as he was released from jail after just six weeks behind bars.
The former Labour Europe Minister and Rotherham MP said drily that prison is a “fascinating” experience and “the place” to go to lose weight, as he walked free after six weeks of his six-month sentence for bogus expenses claims totalling nearly £13,000.
MacShane lashed out at former director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer for being “very keen” on celebrity cases, and contrasted his case with other MPs who admitted discrepancies but were not pursued by the police.
“I’m not talking about what happened – or the other MPs who made so much money and haven’t been held to account,” he said as he was released from HMP Brixton. “That’s for another time, another day, but I’m obviously glad to be out.
“I really met some very good people inside prison. I wouldn’t say I’d recommend it to anybody, but certainly if you want to lose weight and get fit, it’s the place.”
MacShane, 65, resigned his Rotherham seat in 2012 after being criticised by a Commons select committee for serious discrepancies in his expenses claims.
He later pleaded guilty to false accounting by filing 19 fake receipts for “research and translation” services and was jailed two days before Christmas.
“It’s been a fascinating six weeks,” he said. “I was last in prison in Communist Poland.
“I’ve met very interesting people. I’ve met a lot of people who know the difference between right and wrong, and are really prepared to admit to mistakes they’ve made in the past. It’s very different from the House of Commons in that regard.
“I’ve been well treated by the prisoners, I’ve learnt a lot. It’s been a humbling, rewarding and enriching experience. I’ve lost weight, I’m fitter than I’ve been for the last 10 years, and I’m glad now to get back and see my children, family and friends.”
He added: “I spent my time as I spent all my life, thinking, writing, talking to people, making notes.
“I’ve been keeping fit and for the first time eating more healthily.”
MacShane also said he had given talks on politics while serving his sentence – and had made copious notes about the experience “like a good journalist”.
“I’ve interviewed tons of people,” he said. “In 20 years I never thought about prisons in my life.
“No MP, no civil servant, no journalist has the faintest idea what it’s like.”