DISGRACED former Labour Minister and ex-Yorkshire MP Denis MacShane has been jailed for six months after admitting making bogus expense claims amounting to nearly £13,000.
The former Rotherham MP had previously pleaded guilty to false accounting by filing 19 fake receipts for “research and translation” services.
Sentencing MacShane at the Old Bailey yesterday, Mr Justice Sweeney said the former Europe Minister had shown “a flagrant breach of trust” in “our priceless democratic system”.
“You have no-one to blame but yourself,” the judge added.
“The dishonesty involved was considerable and was repeated many times over a long period.
“The deception used was calculated and designed to avoid suspicion falling on your claims.”
MacShane said “Cheers” as the sentence was delivered, before adding “Quelle surprise” as he was led from the dock.
His guilty plea followed more than four years of scrutiny into his use of Commons allowances.
The offence of false accounting covered 19 “knowingly misleading” receipts that MacShane filed between January 2005 and January 2008.
The 65-year-old used the money to fund a series of trips to Europe, including one to judge a literary competition in Paris.
The court heard that MacShane incurred “genuine expenses” but chose to recoup them by dishonest false accounting rather than through legitimate claims.
Mr Sweeney said: “However chaotic your general paperwork was, there was deliberate, oft repeated and prolonged dishonesty over a period of years – involving a flagrant breach of trust and consequent damage to Parliament, with correspondingly reduced confidence in our priceless democratic system and the process by which it is implemented and we are governed.”
The judge said he had considered a number of mitigating features, including MacShane’s guilty plea, and that the offences were “not committed out of greed or for personal profit”.
And MacShane had suffered “a long period of public humiliation” and carried out the offences “at a time of turmoil” in his personal life.
The court heard that MacShane and his wife divorced in 2003, his daughter Clare was killed in an accident in March 2004, his mother died in 2006 and his former partner, newsreader Carol Barnes –Clare’s mother – died in 2008.
Last night former Labour Minister Tom Harris said MacShane should not have been jailed as he has already suffered enough
Mr Harris, who has known MacShane since 2001, said his Labour colleague should not have been imprisoned as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the police accepted he had not gained personally from the claims.
Mr Harris said: “He admits that he was wrong and I think there was a very strong case for a non-custodial sentence.”