The Committee on Standards and Privileges has recommended this morning that Denis MacShane be suspended as an MP for 12 months after he submitted 19 false expenses invoices worth £12,900 over four financial years. The committee’s report, which you can read in full here, concluded:
‘We accept that Mr MacShane is widely acknowledged for his interest in European affairs, and the funds he claimed could be said to have been used in supporting that interest. Those activities may have contributed to his Parliamentary work, albeit indirectly. He has expressed his regret, and repaid the money wrongly claimed. But this does not excuse his behaviour in knowingly submitting nineteen false invoices over a period of four financial years which were plainly intended to deceive the Parliamentary expenses authorities. This is so far from what would be acceptable in any walk of life that we recommend that Mr MacShane be suspended from the service of the House for twelve months. This would mean he lost his salary and pension contributions for this period.’
The committee said this was the ‘gravest case which has come to us for adjudication, rather than being dealt with under the criminal law’. A police investigation into the claims was dropped in July 2012, and MacShane was reinstated as a Labour MP. But the party has now suspended him again, with this statement:
‘These are very serious findings concerning Denis MacShane and we accept his statement this morning that his career as a Labour MP is effectively over. In the light of the report’s recommendations to the House, the Labour party has suspended Denis MacShane with immediate effect, pending a full NEC enquiry. We will be talking to Denis MacShane about his future and the best course of action for him and for his constituency.’
MacShane could remain as an independent MP until the 2015 general election, and the suspension means that his Rotherham constituents will not have an active MP at all for a year. Campaigners are pointing out today that this underlines the need for legislation allowing the recall of MPs by their constituents. It doesn’t seem the government agrees, though: it was only last week that it gave strong indications that the mechanism won’t be seeing the light of day any time soon.