Yesterday, 10th February 2011, former Member of Parliament Eric Illsley was sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges relating to the MPs expenses scandal. Mr Illsley pleaded guilty to £14,000 of expenses fraud in December which related to claims he made for his second home between 2005 and 2008.
In sentencing Mr Illsely Mr Justice Saunders said the former MP had breached the “high degree of trust” that the public place in Members of Parliament. Mr Illsely had earlier this week vacated his seat in Parliament which will trigger a by-election in the constituency he represented.
Also yesterday former Member of Parliament Jim Devine was convicted of dishonestly claiming £8,385 of expenses by using false invoices for cleaning and printing work. Mr Devine was cleared on one of the three charges he faced relating to a claim for £360. Mr Devine will be sentenced in four weeks time. The precedent being set is clear and Mr Devine can expect a prison sentence. While the amount in question is less than that of Mr Illsely, Mr Devine should be expecting a longer prison sentence given he was convicted by a jury rather than by his own plea of guilty.
In January Lord Taylor became the first member of the House of Lords to be convicted in relation to the scandal. The former Conservative peer was convicted of charges relating to £11,277 of false expenses claims. These claims were for travel costs between his Oxford home and Westminster and for subsistence while staying in London. He is awaiting sentence and should also be expecting a lengthy period of custody as that is probably what he will receive based on the precedent being set in these cases.