Sat, Feb 12, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Second UK politician jailed over accounting claims

THE GUARDIAN, LONDON

Former Labour member of parliament (MP) Eric Illsley has been jailed for 12 months at Southwark crown court in London, after pleading guilty to charges of false accounting concerning nearly £14,500 (US$23,400) in parliamentary expenses.

“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,” Illsley was told by Justice Saunders, who is hearing all the cases arising from the MP expenses scandal.

The judge said Illsley’s crimes were less serious than those of former Labour lawmaker David Chaytor, who was jailed for 18 months last month, but said he bore a small but significant part of the responsibility for the public’s loss of trust in MP’s.

“Mr Illsley’s offending went on for longer, but it resulted in a smaller loss to public funds. Significantly it also did not involve the creation of false documents to support the claims,” the judge added.

Illsley showed little reaction when the sentence was passed.

After the judge 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 to the cells, and waved over his shoulder to a friend in the public gallery.

Chaytor, the former Labour MP for Bury North, in northwest England, is serving 18 months after admitting false accounting last month. The Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick was found guilty after a trial last month and is awaiting sentencing.

Illsley, the former MP for Barnsley Central in the north of England, had earlier denied charges brought under the Theft Act amounting to £25,000, but subsequently admitted three charges of false accounting arising from claims made for his second home in south London.

The claims concerned utility charges, council tax payments, telephone and telecommunication bills and maintenance invoices.

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