Ex-MP jailed for expenses fraud

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Former MP Eric Illsley has been jailed for fiddling his parliamentary expenses

Disgraced former Labour MP Eric Illsley has been jailed for 12 months for fiddling his parliamentary expenses.

The 55-year-old became the first sitting Member of Parliament convicted of abusing expenses when he pleaded guilty last month to dishonestly claiming more than £14,000 of taxpayers’ money.

He faced massive pressure to stand down as the MP for Barnsley Central after his conviction but did not quit until this week.

Wearing a charcoal suit, white shirt and a blue tie with red spots, Illsley showed little reaction when the sentence was passed.

After Mr Justice Saunders told the dock officer to “send him down”, he bent down to pick up his overcoat and brown leather holdall and slowly turned around.

The disgraced former MP made the short walk to the door of the dock in Court 1, which leads down to the cells, and waved over his shoulder to a friend in the public gallery.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Saunders noted that Illsley received on average £100 a month more than he was entitled to in expenses over a three-year period. The former MP admitted to probation officers that he did not need the extra money and attributed his actions to greed.

The judge said Illsley bore a small but significant part of the responsibility for the public’s loss of trust in MPs following the expenses scandal.” He said: “These offences were committed in breach of what was the high degree of trust placed in MPs by the authorities in the House of Commons only to make honest claims.

“Beyond that, the commission of the offences which came to light as a result of the police investigation into parliamentary expenses has tarnished the reputation of politicians and Parliament. It is vital that people feel able to trust our legislators and their use of public funds.”

The judge said Illsley’s crimes were less serious than those of fellow shamed ex-Labour MP David Chaytor, who was jailed for 18 months in January.

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