Trial of former MP Jim Devine

The trial of former Scottish Labour MP Jim Devine has begun at Southwark Crown Court.  Mr Devine has pleaded not guilty to false accounting in respect of expenses claims submitted by him whilst he was an MP.

The prosecution allege that he dishonestly made false claims:

  • between July 2008 and May 2009 for £3,240 in respect of cleaning services from Tom O'Donnell Hygiene and Cleaning Services, and
  • between March 2009 and April 2009 for £5,505 in respect of stationery from Armstrong Printing.

In each case it is alleged that he submitted false invoices in support of the claims.

I have to say that, at this stage of the proceedings, the prosecution have made their opening statement, setting out their allegations, and the court has heard from some prosecution witnesses - but the defence have not yet made a statement to the jury (as far as I am aware) and the court has not yet heard from any defence witnesses.

So I do not know the nature of the defence case - and I can only speculate that Mr Devine will assert that he has not been dishonest.  Whether that will be on the basis that he did not himself make the expense claims, or he did not know the detail of the items claimed, or that the claims made were valid, or that he believed them to be valid (even if, in the event, they were not) I cannot say.  We shall have to wait and see.

Certainly the prosecution evidence sounds (in the absence of the defence case) rather ominous.  It is said that Mr Devine requested receipted invoices from the 'suppliers' in respect of services / goods that were never provided and for which no payment was ever made.

Presumably the prosecution intend to show that those invoices were used in support of claims for expenses which were subsequently 'reimbursed' to Mr Devine.  Apparently it is the prosecution case that Mr Devine's bank account was overdrawn prior to the receipt by him of these 'reimbursement' monies.

Unlike the recent case involving Lord Taylor, there is no suggestion in this case that the allowability of certain claims was ambiguous.  The claims were not in respect of accommodation, subsistence or travelling expenses and there is no issue in Mr Devine's case concerning the location of his 'main residence'.

I would however advise readers not to prematurely draw conclusions as to Mr Devine's guilt or innocence.

I well remember being involved in a case concerning the manager of a public house and the alleged theft of cash takings.  Prior to the case coming to court the defendant had in interview with the police under caution admitted responsibility for the missing cash.  He held the safe key and the evidence suggested that the money had disappeared from the safe rather than the till.

When the prosecution evidence came before the Crown Court things were looking bad until the cross-examination of the owner of the public house.  He had hired the manager (the defendant) and shown him what to do.  He had explained the book-keeping system (which was a set of records and procedures of his own devising).

The cross-examination went something like this:

Was the owner aware that, when the manager was away from the premises, the safe key was left hanging on a hook in the manager's office and that the office was left unlocked? "Yes."

Had he (the owner) himself gone into the premises on occasion and 'borrowed' cash from the safe in the manager's office for his own purposes? "Yes."

Had he kept a record of that cash and told the manager about it? "No."

Could he be sure that the manager had removed cash from the safe without authority? "No", he replied, "I don't know who removed it - but he is the manager and so he is responsible for it."

Those answers, of course, fatally undermined the prosecution case.  It was no longer possible to demonstrate that cash had been removed without authority by the defendant.

At the close of the prosecution case the judge accepted that there was no case to answer.  The defendant was acquitted and the jury discharged.

The moral of the story is 'don't jump to conclusions'!

David

Comments
cymraeg_draig's picture

Confiscation ?

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

Should he be found guilty I wonder if this will be seen as a "criminal lifestyle" and a confiscation order made?  Or is that reserved for ripping off the peasants ? 

davidwinch's picture

A possibility

davidwinch | | Permalink

If Mr Devine is convicted then he may be subject to confiscation proceedings.

It would be at least arguable (if he is convicted) that he benefited from an offence committed over at least 6 months from which he obtained at least £5,000.  If so he has a 'criminal lifestyle' for confiscation purposes - and that would open up a possibility of a confiscation order sufficiently large to 'wipe him out' financially.

However if he has been well advised (and if he has sufficient funds) he will have already repaid any expenses overclaimed.  That would be of some assistance to him in mitigation on sentencing (if convicted) and would put his counsel in a position to argue that commencing confiscation proceedings against him would be an 'abuse of process'.

As far as I am aware no confiscation proceedings have been commenced against Lord Taylor (who had repaid the amounts overclaimed by him prior to his trial).

David

davidwinch's picture

Understanding Mr Devine's defence

davidwinch | | Permalink

I think I am beginning to understand the nature of the defence case.

I think Mr Devine is going to say that he was not dishonest because he genuinely did incur expenses in the course of his parliamentary duties which, for one reason or another, he was unable to claim back.  Therefore the claims for expenses which he had not, in fact, incurred would balance things out overall.  So he was not (in his view at least) dishonest.  If he was not dishonest then he should not be convicted.

It reminds me of a client of mine years ago who never obtained receipts for purchases of diesel for the van which he used in his business.  He did however obtain receipts from his milkman for his domestic milk bill.  So he claimed 7/47 of the milk bill as input VAT.  Nothing wrong with that, surely??

David

what about ?

The Black Knight | | Permalink

the person who issued the false receipt (if it were false)

Is it likely that proccedings will follow for that person as well ?

Interesting the petrol story, as heard one recently where the local garage provided a receipts books (so you can write your own receipt, a service they provide for the public) for the missing petrol expenses.

funny how people see things,

during an investigation meeting an inspector queried expenditure on carpets in the hotel as being high, not at all I replied for a hotel of that size. I was then shown the invoice which had the plans of the directors house still stapled to it. .........ah !

The director could see nothing wrong in claiming this amount as she had donated her old carpets for fitting in the hotel.

cymraeg_draig's picture

Defence?

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

If you're right about his "defence" David, then he doesnt have a defence.

It's a bit like me walking into Barclays and stealing £1,000 and saying I did it because I have £1,000 in my account at NatWest so wheres the harm ?

 

What he may have failed to claim or claims to have failed to claim is irrelevent. 

  1. Did he claim specific individual expenses? 
  2. If so were they genuine expenses and was the documentation genuine? 

If the answer to 2 is no - then he's guilty. 

 

This is the second one to put forward what can best be described as a pathetic non-defence.  It's worrying that those responsible for making laws in this country are so stupid.

 

davidwinch's picture

Mens rea

davidwinch | | Permalink

C_D

Presumably he would say that he did not have the 'mens rea' (a Latin phrase used by lawyers which roughly translates as 'guilty state of mind') to have committed the offences as he honestly believed he was doing nothing wrong.

It seems that he had 'staffing costs' in relation to a claim against him by a former employee and so that he could meet those costs he claimed for stationery and other expenses which he had not in fact incurred.

In order to convict Mr Devine the jury have to be sure that what he did was wrong (that is dishonest by the standards of ordinary and decent people) and that he himself realised it was wrong (by that objective standard).

No doubt next week we shall hear the jury's verdict on that.

David

cymraeg_draig's picture

mens rea

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

In order to convict Mr Devine the jury have to be sure that what he did was wrong (that is dishonest by the standards of ordinary and decent people) and that he himself realised it was wrong (by that objective standard).

 

Posted by davidwinch on Fri, 04/02/2011 - 17:04

 

Not quite correct David.  On that basis I could claim that I didnt know robbing banks was wrong - and no one could prove I did.   What the court has to be satisfied of is that what he did was wrong (actus reus) , and, that he did or should have realised it was wrong (in other words we are back to the man on the Clapham Omnibus).

The jury (I would assume) would consider that he must have known that using falsified documents was illegal, after all this is a man who was entrusted with representing his constituents and voting on laws that affected everyone.

 

davidwinch's picture

I beg to differ

davidwinch | | Permalink

C_D

When the Law Commission produced a report on the law of fraud in 2002 (which led eventually to the Fraud Act 2006) they considered the legal definition of dishonesty in some depth.

They did not suggest that a defendant ought to be considered dishonest on the basis that he "should have" realised that his conduct would be considered dishonest by decent people.

They said (at page 47):

"The Court of Appeal in 'Ghosh' laid down a two-stage test. The first question is whether the defendant’s behaviour was dishonest by the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people. If the answer is no, that is the end of the matter and the prosecution fails. If the answer is yes, then the second question is whether the defendant was aware that his or her conduct would be regarded as dishonest by reasonable, honest people . . . the jury is required to find that the defendant recognised that his or her conduct was outside the norms of what society regards as honest."

On the subject of the second part of that test they added (at page 48):

"The second limb imposes an important brake on what might, despite its express terms, tend to be a subjective approach to the first limb decision. First it prevents naive or innocent defendants from being found to be dishonest when the jury is not satisfied that they must have recognised that their behaviour fell outside the norms of reasonable honest people. On the other hand it operates as a brake on the jury acquitting by virtue of the “Robin Hood” defence."

The so-called "Robin Hood" defence would be that of a person who recognised that he was behaving dishonestly by the standards of ordinary and decent people but considered himself authorised by his own different standard of morality to behave in the way that he did (as Robin Hood reputedly stole from the rich to give to the poor).  This means that in court today Robin Hood would properly be convicted of theft.

C_D, if you rob a bank and the jury are not sure that you were aware that your behaviour would be regarded as dishonest by ordinary and decent people then you will not be spending time in one of Her Majesty's Prisons.  It's a bit of a gamble though . . .

As for Mr Devine, as you say, the jury may well consider themselves sure that he would be aware that ordinary and honest people would regard using the 'receipted' bills in the way that he allegedly did to be dishonest.

Incidentally, it is apparently the case that juries (composed, as they are of ordinary people) consider that "ordinary and decent people" would regard tax evasion as dishonest - yet various surveys have shown that the majority of people would themselves be prepared to engage in a modest amount of tax fiddling!  Apparently people generally assume that 'most people' have higher moral standards than they do themselves.  There is a certain element of hypocrisy there.

David

cymraeg_draig's picture

.

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

Incidentally, it is apparently the case that juries (composed, as they are of ordinary people) consider that "ordinary and decent people" would regard tax evasion as dishonest - yet various surveys have shown that the majority of people would themselves be prepared to engage in a modest amount of tax fiddling!  Apparently people generally assume that 'most people' have higher moral standards than they do themselves.  There is a certain element of hypocrisy there.

Posted by davidwinch on Fri, 04/02/2011 - 20:07

 

 

No more hypocrisy than that shown by the "state" which says a crooked MP must know that what he did was wrong, yet, apparently can assume that an accountant failing to make a ML report SHOULD have formed a suspicion.  Now that is real double standards.

 

Actually I love juries, because 99% of juries can be relied upon to ignore legal double-speak and come to a common sense conclusion based on what a reasonable person would view as being right.  Hence the bank robber who claims he "didnt know it was wrong" will be convicted, and the fiddling MP who claims he "didnt know it was wrong" will also be convicted.

The Court of Appeals statement that "the jury is required to find that the defendant recognised that his or her conduct was outside the norms of what society regards as honest."  was a ridiculous statement as by asking a jury to assess whether the defendant "knew" is asking the jury to read the defendants mind. It is yet another example of out of touch senior Judges making statements which undermine a thousand years of justice.  It relly is time we started pensioning off these old duffers.

 

 

davidwinch's picture

Juries, inferences and dishonesty

davidwinch | | Permalink

C_D

I agree with you that juries usually come to commonsense conclusions - whatever the lawyers say!

But one could argue that (perhaps unconsciously) they do that by drawing inferences about what the defendant was thinking from an examination of his actions.  If I were to take steps to ensure that my income was paid to me in cash, I gave no receipt and I banked the cash in an offshore tax haven in an account held in the name of an anonymous trust - then a jury might not believe that my failure to declare the income for UK tax purposes was not knowing and deliberate, whatever protestations of honesty I might make!

I remember years ago an investment scam in which investors were told that their monies would be used to purchase "gilt-edged securities and other assets".  Some of those 'other assets' included a grand Mediterranean yacht used by the proprietor of the investment company.  He claimed that this 'investment' was perfectly proper and within the terms of the investment contract.  I suppose technically it was - but the jury quite rightly found him to be a dishonest rogue!

Of course mind-reading skills are now de rigueur for accountants who need to form a view as to whether their clients and others are dishonest before making a Suspicious Activity Report to SOCA under s330 PoCA 2002 / MLR 2007.

David

cymraeg_draig's picture

.

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

Of course mind-reading skills are now de rigueur for accountants who need to form a view as to whether their clients and others are dishonest before making a Suspicious Activity Report to SOCA under s330 PoCA 2002 / MLR 2007.

 

Posted by davidwinch on Sat, 05/02/2011 - 10:33

 

Lets hope the jury in the MP cases can read their minds.  Of course the average MPs mind is only a very short read.

davidwinch's picture

You couldn't make this up!

davidwinch | | Permalink

I have been struggling to comprehend Mr Devine's defence to charges of false accounting.

Well the fog may be clearing (or getting murkier!).

Apparently Mr Devine says he had incurred cleaning costs in prior years for which he did not have receipts.  So he submitted some new receipts for costs which he had not actually paid to 'catch up' with past underclaims. Err, okay . . .

As for the stationery bills, they were to cover wages paid to an employee - but he can't / won't name the employee because he has shredded the receipts she gave him and anyway he had suspected she was claiming benefits whilst working and she has now confirmed to him that she won't give evidence because she might get herself into trouble for benefit fraud.

This must be true - because you wouldn't make it up!

No doubt hearing this will restore the confidence of the general public in the honesty and integrity of MPs and the jury will have no hesitation in returning a verdict of 'not guilty' so that Mr Devine can leave the court with no stain on his good character.

Or maybe not . . .

David

paulharm's picture

Is Mr Divine dishonest or incredibly naïve?

paulharm | | Permalink

Please correct me if I am wrong, but my recollection of the events surrounding the scandal of MPs expenses runs something like this:

 

 

Feb 2008. Freedom of Information request – challenged as unlawful 

 

May 2008. High Court ruled in favour of releasing information.

 

 

 

May 2008 – April 2009. MPs in a spin and doubtless many worried about the upcoming disclosure (was Mr Devine blissfully unaware or naïve enough to think his collar would not be felt?)

 

 

 April 2009. Publication of expenses to be made in July 2009.

 

 

 May 2009. Daily Telegraph helped the disclosures on their way.

 

 

 

 

So Mr Devine decided to enter expense claims a few weeks after the announcement that expense details were to be publically available (the cleaning bills) followed by another substantial claim (the printing) that coincided with the announcement of the date of publication of the information.

 

 

 Meantime, there are further reports of a claim for electrical wiring in 2009 (the company name, address, postcode and VAT number all proved bogus and Mr Devine alleges he has since died) and 200 feet of shelving supplied, allegedly, by a local pub landlord (but no shelves exist the office). See http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/05/jim_devine_mp_i.html

 

 

 I assume CPS hasn’t been convinced these would stick but there seems to me to be more than adequate evidence here to support seizure due to an established criminal lifestyle.

 

 

 It will be interesting to see whether the same treatment is meted out as the case of the negligent taxpayer – see Group Post: Calamitous consequence of a failure to notify HMRC.

 

 

cymraeg_draig's picture

Benefit fraud

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

As for the stationery bills, they were to cover wages paid to an employee - but he can't / won't name the employee because he has shredded the receipts she gave him and anyway he had suspected she was claiming benefits whilst working and she has now confirmed to him that she won't give evidence because she might get herself into trouble for benefit fraud.

 

Posted by davidwinch on Mon, 07/02/2011 - 17:03

 

So aiding & abetting benefit fraud is to be added to the charges ?

Interesting also how if an accountant came across this information in the course of his duties he would be required to file a report - but apparently MPs are not. 

 

davidwinch's picture

A remarkable defence

davidwinch | | Permalink

I do try to keep an open mind about cases on which there is, as yet, no verdict.

But it strikes me as remarkable that Mr Devine seems to think he will earn 'Brownie points' from judge and jury by saying, in effect, that - as a former member of the UK's law making body - he refuses on principle to 'grass up' a benefit fraudster.  Particularly when the case against him turns upon his personal honesty (or dishonesty).

Of course defendants do sometimes score spectacular 'own goals' in their evidence from the witness box!

David

cymraeg_draig's picture

Defence ?

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

Of course defendants do sometimes score spectacular 'own goals' in their evidence from the witness box!

David

 

Posted by davidwinch on Mon, 07/02/2011 - 20:39

 

Agreed David, but this "defence" is about as good as Arsenals defence was against Newcastle in the second half on Saturday :)

Some people would say it was common sense that god didn't exist,

Trevor Scott | | Permalink

……Actually I love juries, because 99% of juries can be relied upon to ignore legal double-speak and come to a common sense conclusion based on what a reasonable person would view as being right.  Hence the bank robber who claims he "didnt know it was wrong" will be convicted, and the fiddling MP who claims he "didnt know it was wrong" will also be convicted…….

Posted by cymraeg_draig on Sat, 05/02/2011 - 00:15

 

I once worked at a practice where a client decided to fit one of his own manager’s up as a thief, as an economical method of making him redundant, and so a jury faced with such evidence and taking a common-sense approach would have reached the wrong conclusion. Fortunately, he was stupid enough to have canvassed the opinion of the wrong solicitor, but his manager still lost his job and was seriously out of pocket. 

There is a valid element of so called “common sense” in that the law has to be understandable and be seen to be correct and working, but it isn’t enough when many matters of life (various collapsing fraud trials spring to mind) cannot be comprehended by the average individual and so there is clearly a case for “professional jurors”….even if they are just people with a serious degree education.Ask yourself, if you were up for a serious matter that involved a complex matter of law, would you want someone on a jury if they couldn’t perform such “common sense” things as construct a basic sentence or who's "common sense" judgement had a basis in "facts" such as that the sun travelled around the earth every day! 

Defence

alistair_king | | Permalink

This makes Arsenal's defence look rock solid 

cymraeg_draig's picture

Trevor

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

Whilst I am a supporter of the jury system I do agree that there should be some measure of basic intelligence to qualify people to sit on a jury.

I definitely dont agree with the idea of "professional" juries - you might as well scrap juries & let the judges decide (God help us if that ever happens).

Perhaps there is an argument that jurers should be listed according to profession so that in complex fraud trials only say accountants are called onto the jury, although Im not sure where that idea would lead us?  Only mothers in child abuse cases?   Only muslims where a muslim is on trial?  Perhaps not such a good idea.

 

Old Greying Accountant's picture

I regularly find...

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... that the less formally qualified, "university of life" graduates if you would, whilst not being able to construct a correctly spelled grammatically correct sentence, can see straight to the heart of even complex issues to come to the more accurate conclusion.

I am minded of this piece of useless information that became lodged in my brain many years ago, it is probably urban myth but illustrates the point that intelligence and common sense may well be inversely proportional:

"While Einstein lived in Berlin, working as a patent office clerk, he did his research work in a small study away from his home. In this study he kept a large number of cats, of which he was very fond. However the cats at times could be rather burdensome, scratching persistently at closed doors, demanding to roam freely throughout the house. He could not leave all the doors open, so he decided to cut holes in the bottom of the doors, producing cute little cat doors.

In that year he had roughly equal numbers of large and small cats. Therefore, quite logically, he cut out two holes in each door: a large one for the large cats, and a small one for the small cats. It made perfect sense."

 

Juries

The Black Knight | | Permalink

I am curious

Are not Juries made up of the employed and unemployed that can afford the time off work ?

Whilst the self employed cannot afford the time which would have an adverse affect on their business.

They would have to pay professional juries ! no chance then.

Added to which a balanced decision from a range of views is presumably the point of the Jury system ?

I do think that when things get complicated the system may be flawed, and perhaps the result, in a less than black and white case, is as equally reliable as tossing a coin.

After all people still vote for politicians that appear at first sight to me as being a bit shifty.

cymraeg_draig's picture

kalden

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

Are not Juries made up of the employed and unemployed that can afford the time off work ?

Whilst the self employed cannot afford the time which would have an adverse affect on their business.

 

Posted by kalden on Tue, 08/02/2011 - 14:39

 

Employment status has no relevance to jury service, and if you think claiming that you are "self employed and it would have an adverse effect on your business" will get you out of jury duty - think again. You might, if you are lucky, get out of doing duty on a case expected to run for months, but otherwise tough luck.

Employers have zero rights and cannot refuse to allow employees time off for jury duty. 

Illness may be an excuse, but it will require medical proof, AND the minute you are fit for work I can guarantee you will be recalled.

Of course, you could simply redfuse to do jury duty - but Im sure you'd sooner do 2 weeks on a jury than 6 months in a prison cell.

 

mmmm

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Be a bit of a showstopper for some businesses in the current climate !

 

Chris Smail's picture

My dad got let off in the middle of lambing and never got recall

Chris Smail | | Permalink

That must have been in the 70's though.

Avoiding Jury Service

JackHarper | | Permalink

I am aware that Cardinal "Dave" Hartnett may regard this as a sin just as he does tax avoidance.

However, I have twice done so by explaining that as a non-practising solicitor I would hope to be of great assistance to my fellow jurors in the jury room. Until quite recently I would have been exempt on that ground.

We self-employed cannot expect to be excused merely because of that status. We are the Class II and IV filthy scum, exiled from the benefits system when on hard times, unprotected from redundancy, the anti-social pariahs tasked with creating the private sector jobs to replace those lost in the Public Sector, and rightly having the bread taken from our children's mouths to feed those of our (predominantly female) pregnant employees and their offspring during their maternity leave. If Treblinka or Sobibor  was still in operation it would be the ideal place to keep us and ensure our daily compliance with the Money Laundering Rules and the SRA's demands to pay £20000 per fee earner for PI cover (if cover can be had at all).

So we make ideal jurors and the jeopardy of the potential loss of our clients and livelihood is frankly the least we have coming to us. We are archetypally the jury of the nasty scrotes' peers, along with the non-English speaking, the dim, the bored, the idle, the fugitives from daytime TV, the OMGs (stop texting in Court please), those with personality disorders short of being sectioned, the feckless, the LibDem MPs, the bankrupt undergraduates, the altruistic public-spirited collectors of goods falling from lorries, and the unpredictably narcoleptic Everton defence.

 

Complain? How very dare we?

 

Jack Harper

 

Jack Harper

nail, hammer, head !

The Black Knight | | Permalink

well said that man Jack !

I was excused from jury duty

admin.trssecret... | | Permalink

Back in the mid 1980s I was called for jury duty at Southwark Crown Court. At the time I held a management position in an international bank, who wrote saying that I could not be spared. I have never been called again, dare I say much to my disappointment.

cymraeg_draig's picture

Verdict - Ex MP Mr Devine - GUILTY

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

Now lets see if he is treated like anyone else would be - or will this not be considered a "criminal lifestyle".

 

davidwinch's picture

Verdicts

davidwinch | | Permalink

I understand Mr Devine was not found guilty in respect of EVERY allegation against him.

That suggests that (as I would expect) the jury looked carefully at the evidence and applied themselves conscientiously to their task.  But at the end of the day they found overwhelming evidence of guilt in respect of most of the allegations.

Whether confiscation will follow and, if it does, whether Mr Devine will be deemed to have a 'criminal lifestyle' I don't yet know.

David

Trial of Jim Devine

Razorbill | | Permalink

I've really enjoyed following the trial of Jim Devine - especially his hilarious so-called defence!

 

I'm just wondering whether he will be able to catch the book that I'm really hoping is going to be thrown at him for firstly being dishonest and secondly wasting everybody's time by trying to prove he wasn't!

cymraeg_draig's picture

Guessing

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

I'm just wondering whether he will be able to catch the book that I'm really hoping is going to be thrown at him for firstly being dishonest and secondly wasting everybody's time by trying to prove he wasn't!

 

Posted by Razorbill on Thu, 10/02/2011 - 12:51

 

I'll take a guess - the one who pleaded guilty got 1 year inside today, so my betting is that because he pleaded not guilty Divine will get 18 months.

davidwinch's picture

Bankrupt

davidwinch | | Permalink

A Scottish bankruptcy order has today been made against former MP Jim Devine following non-payment of an employment tribunal award made against him last year.

He is due to be sentenced next month in relation to his recent convictions.

David

That will stop POCA !

The Black Knight | | Permalink

mmmm

davidwinch's picture

Stopping PoCA - Maybe

davidwinch | | Permalink

Under s84(2)(d) PoCA 2002:

"references to property held by a person include references to property vested in his trustee in bankruptcy . . .".

In other words assets held in the bankruptcy are still available for confiscation.

David

davidwinch's picture

Appeal against sentence

davidwinch | | Permalink

I understand former MP David Chaytor is to appeal against his sentence of 18 months imprisonment after admitting fraudulent expenses claims of approximately £20,000.

The Court of Appeal will consider his application on 22 March.

David

being controversial

The Black Knight | | Permalink

A tax fraud of £20K and much more for an ordinary citizen would ordinarily have been dealt with by civil proceedures and penalties.

perhaps 18 months is a bit excessive,

even former MP's should be treated fairly and in comparison to an ordinary tax fraud this sentence has more to do with satisfying the baying Mob !

don't you think !

davidwinch's picture

Sentencing guidelines

davidwinch | | Permalink

There are sentencing guidelines promulgated for use by judges and magistrates.  One of the guidelines relates to fraud.

You can access the fraud guideline here (it's getting on for 40 pages long).

I have also written an article on the fraud sentencing guideline on my website.  You can access that article here.

If Mr Chaytor's case had been a run of the mill case of, for example, an employee who had defrauded his employer out of £20,000 then it would be borderline whether he would go to prison at all.  A suspended sentence would be a real possibility, with perhaps some hours of unpaid work and what we used to call being 'on probation' for a couple of years.

This is particularly so as the defendant has no previous convictions and will have suffered by losing his job.  The guilty plea, remorse expressed, repayment of monies overclaimed, etc would all go in his favour.

But of course Mr Chaytor is not a run of the mill employee.  He is (or was) a person holding a key position of trust and (in a sense) a person responsible for actually making the criminal law.

So his sentence had to reflect that.

Of course every case is unique and the guidelines can be no more than guides - they don't lay down mathematical formulae for computing the correct sentence!

But was Mr Chaytor's sentence too severe?  The Court of Appeal will have their chance to say next month . . . .

David

scalloway's picture

Former MP Jim Devine declared bankrupt

scalloway | | Permalink

The insolvency order was made after Mr Devine failed to pay his former office manager Marion Kinley £35,000 for unfair dismissal.

Last year an employment tribunal heard how he bullied Miss Kinley and made up stories to justify firing her.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-12551359

billgilcom's picture

MPs

billgilcom | | Permalink

Who cares if the MPs are put away for a period or not. They were stealing just as mich from the public purse as benefit fraudsters who would probably have been prosecuted for stealing a fraction of the amounts involved with the MP's. They were doing this while extracting  considerable sums from the exchequer for salaries and now their counterparts are even thinking of ways to withdraw disability allowances from people who are genuinely not able to work. Society is not even handed so why should they get off with light reprimanding sentences

davidwinch's picture

Sentenced to 16 months

davidwinch | | Permalink

Former MP Jim Devine was today sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment. 

In practice he will spend much less inside.  He would not expect to serve more than half the sentence actually in jail (which would be 8 months) and could spend as little as 4 months behind bars.

David

Donald2000's picture

Contempt of court aspect

Donald2000 | | Permalink

It seems to have escaped everyone's notice that even after being charged with the offences he stood on his doorstep babbling on about how it was perfectly viable to shift expenditures from one heading to another within his parliamentary expenses.

To publicly discuss a case with the media after having been charged is technically Contempt of Court under the relevant act of 1981; people should have realised at that stage that someone with such a flagrant disregard of the laws of this land was not going to be acquitted of the offences for which he was charged.

I dont know where he gets the idea that he has not done anything wrong; thats a position in law that can only be ascribed to the Sovereign. Otherwise the law is applicable to wrongdoing. He was capable of wrongdoing and was found guilty of wrongdoing. So sorry Jim, game over.

 

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