MP Eric Illsley admits dishonestly claiming expenses

Update:  If Eric Illsley gets a sentence of less than 12 months, taxpayers could be forced to keep paying his salary while he is in prison.  The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics has a petition on the issue calling for him to resign.  You can sign it here.

MP Eric Illsley has admitted fiddling his expenses.

The member for Barnsley Central was due to stand trial at Southwark Crown Court in London today but changed his pleas and admitted dishonestly claiming more than £14,000.

He has the dubious honour of being the first sitting MP to be convicted of expenses fraud.  The charges related to three years of expenses claimed on his second home in London.

Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, offered this reaction:

“Taxpayers will be glad to see that justice is finally being done.  But they will be outraged than any MP was able to dishonestly claim tens of thousands of pounds of their money in the first place.  It is disgraceful that Illsley has dragged out the process and stood for Parliament again, despite knowing that he was a guilty criminal who had ripped off the taxpayers whose interests he was supposed to serve.  He should have stepped down before the election and offered his constituents a fair alternative. The punishment for this breach of trust needs to be severe to send a clear message that MPs aren’t above the law and that this kind of fraud is not acceptable.”

If Illsley receives a sentence of 12 months or more there he will be disqualified as an MP and there will have to be a by-election in his constituency.

Just a few days ago, former Labour MP David Chaytor became the first person to be jailed over the expenses scandal.  He was sentenced to 18 months after admitting he forged tenancy documents and invoices to falsely claim more than £22,000 of taxpayers' money for rent and IT work from House of Commons authorities.

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