SHADOW home secretary Yvette Cooper has welcomed a decision by police to examine revelations on disgraced former Rotherham MP Denis MacShane’s abuse of expenses to establish if a criminal investigation should be re-opened.
Mr MacShane, who served as Europe Minister under Tony Blair, stepped down on Friday after the House of Commons standards and privileges committee recommended he be suspended without pay and pension for a year for fraudulently claiming at least £7,500 through false invoices from an organisation he had set up.
Scotland Yard was first called in to investigate the issue in 2010, although it was decided not to take any further action. Detectives were not, however, provided with information amassed by the standards and privileges committee and officers are now set to examine its findings.
“This is a very serious report with very serious condemnation,” the Normanton MP Ms Cooper said. “I think it is right that the police should be looking again at this. They have said they are doing that.
“They have to make their decision independently, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have to make their decisions independently.”
The Commons authorities have insisted the damning evidence provided by Mr MacShane to the standards commissioner is protected by parliamentary privilege and would not be admissible in court.
But his former fellow South Yorkshire Labour MP Eric Illsley, who was jailed for 12 months for false accounting, yesterday drew critical comparison between his treatment and the case of Mr MacShane.
“There is a double standard somewhere along the line,” he said. “It seems like people are making the rules up as they go along.”
A by-election will now be triggered in Rotherham, and the Yorkshire Post understands one of the front-runners will be Rotherham Councillor Mahroof Hussain, a former adviser to Mr MacShane who pulled out of contesting the Middlesbrough by-election for Sir Stuart Bell’s seat on Friday.