UK & World News
Denis MacShane Jailed Over Expenses Claims
Former Labour minister Denis MacShane has been jailed for six months after admitting making £13,000 of bogus expense claims.
The ex-MP previously pleaded guilty to false accounting by filing 19 fake receipts for "research and translation" services from 2005 to 2008.
MacShane, 65, used the money to fund a series of trips to Europe, including one to judge a literary competition in Paris.
His guilty plea followed more than four years of scrutiny into his use of Commons allowances.
Mr Justice Sweeney, sitting at the Old Bailey, stressed that this expenses case was different to others because it was not for "personal profit".
But he added: "The dishonesty involved was considerable and was repeated many times over a period.
"In your case you have no one to blame but yourself."
Flanked by two security officers, MacShane, wearing a dark suit with a blue striped tie and glasses, said "Cheers" as the sentence was delivered, before adding, "Quelle surprise" as he was led from the dock.
Sky's Darren McCaffrey, at the court, said MacShane argued with the dock officer before sentencing after being told he could not take his luggage and mobile phone in with him.
MacShane was told he must serve half his sentence in prison and was ordered to pay costs of £1,500 within two months.
Parliamentary authorities began looking at his claims in 2009 when the wider scandal engulfed Westminster, and referred him to Scotland Yard within months.
But the principle of parliamentary privilege meant detectives were not given access to damning correspondence with the standards commissioner in which MacShane detailed how signatures on receipts from the European Policy Institute (EPI) had been faked.
The body was controlled by MacShane and the general manager's signature was not genuine. One message, dated October 2009, said he drew funds from the EPI so he could serve on a book judging panel in Paris.
It was not until after police dropped the case last year that the cross-party Standards Committee published the evidence in a report that recommended an unprecedented 12-month suspension from the House.
MacShane, 65, who served as Europe minister under Tony Blair, resigned as MP for Rotherham last November before the punishment could be imposed.
Police then re-opened their inquiry in the light of the fresh information and he was charged in May - even though the letters are still not thought to be admissible in court.
MacShane is reportedly in a relationship with Vicky Pryce, the ex-wife of former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne.
Huhne and Pryce were released from jail in May after serving sentences for perverting the course of justice.