Spare disgraced ex-Minister jail term, judge told

Former Rotherham MP Denis MacShane.
Former Rotherham MP Denis MacShane.
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Disgraced former Labour minister Denis MacShane should be spared a jail sentence, his barrister told a judge.

The former Minister for Europe may face prison after admitting making bogus expenses claims amounting to nearly £13,000, with the maximum sentence available being seven years.

The ex-MP, 65, pleaded guilty last month to false accounting by filing 19 fake receipts for “research and translation” services.

He used the money to fund a series of trips to Europe, including one to judge a literary competition in Paris.

Mr Justice Sweeney at the Old Bailey heard the case outlined to him by the prosecution and then Mark Milliken-Smith QC put the case for MacShane, telling the court there was a key distinction between his case and others involving expenses that had come before the courts.

“The invoices submitted were intended to recoup expenses genuinely incurred,” he said.

“This is not put as a case where this was a man seeking to enrich himself by inventing expenses. There was no personal profit.”

He told the judge MacShane’s record-keeping had been chaotic, and the former MP had suffered shame, opprobrium and the
loss of his life’s work and reputation.

He read testimonials to his hard work as a Minister, as an MP and for charity, and detailed a series of blows in his personal life around the time of the offences, including the loss of his 25-year-old daughter in a skydiving accident in Australia in 2004.

He told the judge: “The court should pass a sentence which does not require the loss of his liberty.”

The judge said he would sentence MacShane on Monday and warned him: “I am giving you no indication whatever as to what the sentence is going to be.”

MacShane’s guilty plea last month followed more than four years of scrutiny into his use of Commons allowances.

Parliamentary authorities began looking at his claims in 2009.