Former MP jailed in expenses case after being branded liar by judge

An EXPENSES cheat MP who “carried on regardless” in the face of public anger was branded a liar by a judge as he was jailed for 16 months yesterday.

Jim Devine, 57, submitted false invoices totalling £8,385 between 2008 and 2009 – after politicians’ claims had already become “front page news”.

Yesterday bankrupt Devine became the third former MP to be jailed at the Old Bailey in the wake of the expenses scandal.

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He told his Southwark Crown Court trial that he was acting on advice given with a “nod and a wink” by a fellow MP.

But his defence was rejected by the jury and the judge said he had been “lying in significant parts of the evidence he gave”.

Devine’s barrister Gavin Millar QC said Devine had worked “tirelessly” as a union organiser and politician to help the less fortunate in society and was not a “self-interested or attention-seeking career politician”.

But Mr Justice Saunders pointed out that he committed his offences at a time when the public were “already making clear the sense of outrage they felt” about MPs’ abuse of expenses.

He said: “Mr Devine made his false claims at a time when he well knew the damage that was being caused to Parliament by the expenses scandal, but he carried on regardless.”

The former Labour MP for Livingston also tried to pin the blame on his former office manager Marion Kinley, claiming she had paid herself more than £5,000 from his staffing allowance without his knowledge.

But the judge said he had little sympathy for his claims. Ms Kinley was later awarded £35,000 for unfair dismissal by an employment tribunal.

Devine was chairman of the Scottish Labour Party in the 1990s and later succeeded Robin Cook as MP for Livingston.