UK & World News
MPs' Expenses: Ex-Labour Minister Suspended
Former Labour minister Denis MacShane is being suspended from the Commons over a string of false expenses claims running to thousands of pounds.
The Committee on Standards and Privileges said it would recommend Mr MacShane be suspended as an MP for 12 months after it found he submitted 19 false invoices "plainly intended to deceive" Parliament's expenses authority.
The former minister, who was suspended from the Labour party earlier in the day, said he was "shocked and saddened" that his political career had been destroyed. He is now considering his position as an MP.
Labour declared Mr MacShane's career as a Labour member of parliament to be "effectively over".
The Standards and Privileges Committee said it was impossible to say how much the Rotherham MP claimed "outside the rules", but it "may have been in the order of £7,500".
Chairman Kevin Barron said it was "the gravest case" his committee had considered in its role as Parliament's sleaze watchdog.
Mr MacShane's punishment reflected that his actions were "so far from what would be acceptable in any walk of life", the Standards and Privileges Committee said. He would lose his salary and pension contributions during the period of suspension.
Their recommendation must be approved by the Commons in a what usually amounts to a formality.
Mr MacShane previously had the whip withdrawn by Labour when allegations from the British National Party that he abused his expenses were investigated by Scotland Yard in September 2010. He was reinstated in July when the Met said they were taking no further action.
The committee's report notes that the former minister "has expressed his regret, and repaid the money wrongly claimed".
But it said the "real mischief" of Mr MacShane's conduct was that the "method he adopted of submitting false invoices" allowed him to bypass rules to spend public money as he saw fit.
It said it was "impossible to escape the conclusion" that he claimed in that way to ensure he was not challenged over using taxpayers' cash to fund travel for his work in Europe.
In his statement Mr MacShane said the BNP had won a "three-year campaign to destroy my political career".
He stressed that the police inquiry had found nothing and that the Standards and Privileges Committee "notes that there is no question of personal gain".
"Clearly I deeply regret that the way I chose to be reimbursed for costs related to my work in Europe and in combating anti-semitism, including being the Prime Minister's personal envoy, has been judged so harshly," he said.
Leading media lawyer Mark Stephens defended the former Labour minister.
He said: "I have worked with Dr Denis McShane for over 30 years on campaigns and anti-fascist work.
"This is a huge victory for racists and fascists who have in my opinion abused the parliamentary complaints system to destroy an honourable member of parliament who is a political opponent of the BNP.
" ...the chilling effect of this process will deter principled members of Parliament from rooting out prejudice and fascism wherever it may be found."