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Britain's former Europe minister quits over expenses fraud

The Committee on Standards and Privileges said the illegitimate expenses claims by MacShane were worth £12,900 (€16,070) but that he had since repaid the amount in full.

Denis MacShane, Britain's former minister for Europe (file)
Denis MacShane, Britain's former minister for Europe (file)
Image: OSMAN ORSAL/AP/Press Association Images

BRITAIN’S FORMER EUROPE minister Denis MacShane today resigned from parliament after a watchdog found that he had cheated on his expenses, including for travel to the continent.

The Committee on Standards and Privileges, parliament’s expenses authority, said the opposition Labour lawmaker submitted 19 expenses claims that were “plainly intended to deceive” and recommended that he be suspended for 12 months.

The Labour party also said it was suspending MacShane, who was minister for Europe from 2002 to 2005 in prime minister Tony Blair’s government.

MacShane later announced that he was resigning as a lawmaker.

‘Accept the consequences’

“I hope by resigning I can serve by showing that MPs must take responsibility for their mistakes and accept the consequences of being in breach of the House (of Commons) rules,” he said in a statement.

But he insisted that he ran up the expenses in connection with his “parliamentary work in Europe and in combating anti-semitism”, and said the complaint against him was filed by the far-right British National Party.

The parliamentary committee said the illegitimate expenses claims by MacShane were worth £12,900 (€16,070) but added that he had since repaid the amount in full.

‘Utmost gravity’

It said that “one matter which we consider to be of the utmost gravity is Mr MacShane’s use of public money to support European travel”, and noted that he had also allowed interns to keep publicly funded laptop computers.

British police investigated claims that MacShane had abused the parliamentary expenses system after the matter was referred to them by parliament in 2010, but they announced in July that he faced no further action.

Several lawmakers were jailed after The Daily Telegraph newspaper published details of expenses claims in 2009. The scandal forced a shake-up of the system of parliamentary allowances.

- © AFP, 2012

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