Former Labour MP Jim Devine fails to pay compensation

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Disgraced former Labour MP Jim Devine has failed to pay his ex-office manager Marion Kinley any money despite an employment tribunal Judge ordering compensation of £35,000 due to her winning a case of constructive dismissal against the former Livingston Labour MP.

Solicitors working on behalf of Marion Kinley are now stepping up the pressure in the hope that they can secure her financial settlement by blocking any sale of Devine’s house.

They are also considering instructing bailiffs to gain access to Devine’s parliamentary resettlement grant of nearly £35,000 which is given to ex MPs to help them adjust to non-parliamentary life. This grant has been frozen due to a pending court case relating to his expenses claims while serving as a Labour MP for Livingston.

Back in Oct 2010 an Edinburgh employment tribunal chaired by Judge Jane Porter said that Jim Devine’s actions were “bullying and harassment”.  The tribunal ruled that Miss Kinley had been constructively dismissed and awarded her compensation of £24,792 plus £10,516 in expenses for driving Devine around his constituency.

Miss  Kinley commented at the time: “He seemed to think he could treat people any way he wanted to and tell lies about them.”

The Employment tribunal heard how the former Scottish Labour MP got his friend Fiona Fox to call  his ex-office manager Ms Kinley under the pretence of being a reporter. 

Miss Kinley said of the hoax phone call: “The message is still on my phone. A woman said she was a freelance reporter for the Sunday Telegraph, and she was doing a big piece on MPs’ expenses, in particular on Jim Devine’s secretary.”

Miss Kinley realised the call was a set-up when she came across an email from Fox to Devine, which read: “Your secretary called me back and then put the phone down – hope you’ve put her out of her misery – remind me never to work for you!!”

The tribunal found that Devine was liable for most of the compensation awarded to Miss Kinley, but in a bizarre twist also added that parliament should share the costs. To date no compensation has been paid by Devine or by the House of Commons to Marion Kinley even though the deadline for payment has now past.

In the absence of her compensation Miss Kinley said: “It’s been over six weeks since I won my case for constructive dismissal and I have not received a single penny of my award.

“In the judgment it was clear the Commons had responsibility to pay the compensation for loss of pension but they are refusing to do so without authorisation from Mr Devine.

“Therefore, the only option left is to instruct bailiffs to go to the House of Commons and recover the monies set aside for Mr Devine’s resettlement grant and pension.”

Marion Kinley’s lawyer has now instructed bailiffs to “inhibit” the former Labour MPs home in Blackburn West Lothian bought for the sum of £170,000 back in 2007. This move by Kinley’s lawyer will effectively block any moves by Devine to sell his home or obtain any loans on the property until he pays his debt to Miss Kinley.

The former Labour MP also has a second home in the affluent Kennington area of London. Miss Kinley’s lawyers are considering plans to obtain the compensation award by gaining access to Devine’s ‘golden handshake’ resettlement grant from the House of Commons.

In a separate move unrelated to Miss Kinley’s employment compensation award the House of Commons have frozen the former Labour MPs resettlement grant due to Devine being charged with theft by false accounting relating to the House of Commons expenses scandal.

Devine is alleged to have used false invoices to claim a total of £8,740 in cleaning services and office stationery. The former Labour MP is only one of a group of Labour MPs who are awaiting trial for alleged fraudulent claims on their House of Commons expenses. The Livingston MP faces two charges under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 for false accounting.

The first count alleges that between July 2008 and April 2009 Mr Devine dishonestly claimed £3,240 for cleaning services using false invoices. The second count alleges that in March 2009 Mr Devine dishonestly claimed £5,505 for stationery using false invoices.

In October this year Jim Devine and his former Labour cohorts David Chaytor and Elliot Morley failed in a high court ruling to have their alleged theft cases handled by parliament.

Former Labour MP Devine has vowed to fight the expenses allegations in court. The trials of these former Labour MP’s are due to start around December 2010, it is being rumoured that Devine is getting legal aid to pay for his defence.

Devine was barred from standing as a candidate at the last general election following reports about his expenses.