The Labour party were reeling this evening after a second MP admitting dishonestly claiming £14,000 in parliamentary expenses.
Eric Illsley, who won the Barnsley Central seat for Labour at the last General Election, pled guilty to the charges earlier today. In doing so he becomes the first sitting MP to be convicted of expenses fraud.
The former Labour MP illegally claimed for council tax, maintenance, repairs and utility bills for his second home in Kennington, south London between 2005 and 2008 and will be sentenced at a later date.
However there was outrage after it emerged that he will be able to remain an MP and draw his parliamentary salary if sentenced to less than a year.
Simon Clements, head of the Crown PS Special Crime Division, said: “This was a significant sum of money and the grossly inflated claims he submitted could not be attributed to an oversight or accounting error – indeed he claimed that the expenses system was a way of supplementing Members’ salaries.
“By his guilty pleas he has accepted that he was dishonest in making these claims.
“As an elected representative, Eric Illsley took advantage of the trust placed in him by his constituents to act honourably on their behalf.
“Instead, he siphoned off public money into his own pockets and betrayed those who rightly expected the highest standards of integrity from him as a Member of Parliament.”
Illsley becomes the second former Labour MP to be convicted of expenses fraud in less than a week. Last week David Chaytor admitted to illegally obtaining over £22,000 in cash and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Unlike Chaytor, who stood down at the last General Election, Illsley is still a serving MP. He was re-elected as the Labour MP for Barnsley Central last May with a majority of more than 11,000 but was suspended from the party shortly afterwards.
If Illsley decides to stay on as an MP it could cause further harm to a Labour party already reeling after the imprisonment of David Chaytor. The party is facing further damage with the upcoming trials of former Labour MPs Elliot Morley and Jim Devine.
Jim Devine is the former Scottish Labour MP who is alleged to have used false invoices to claim a total of £8,740 in cleaning services and office stationery. The former MP for Livingston 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 again using false invoices. Devine has pled not guilty and will face trial later this year.