Denis MacShane Says Sorry For Expenses Claims

Denis MacShane Says Sorry For Expenses Claims

Former Labour minister Denis MacShane has apologised for letting down his constituents after making false expenses claims.

Mr MacShane, who quit as MP for Rotherham last week, admitted he was "at grievous fault" and accepted full responsibility for his "folly and mistakes".

He wrote an open letter to the Yorkshire Post following a damning report from the Commons expenses watchdog, which found he wrongly claimed thousands of pounds.

"How do I say sorry?," he said. "Rotherham has been such an important part of my life and I have let this wonderful town, its terrific people and my constituency down so very badly.

"I accept fully the responsibility for my actions. That I was at grievous fault there can be no doubt."

However, Mr MacShane did also try to show that his claims were not as bad as others who had "flipped" their homes to maximise the amount they could squeeze from the taxpayer.

"I did not flip my London home and make a huge personal profit. I did not pay a partner or a child £40,000," he said.

"My house has not changed or been improved using taxpayers' money. I did not claim thousands under the so called petty cash heading without receipts."

And he sought to highlight the role of the death of his daughter Clare, who was killed in a sky-diving accident in 2004, in the affair.

He said: "When my daughter was killed ... in a sky-diving accident, Rotherham was there even if that grief made me lose judgment on filling in expense forms at the end of an 18-hour day."

The letter ended: "I finish by apologising from the bottom of my heart for the damage I have done, I hope only temporarily, to the good name of Rotherham, through my folly and mistakes."

The former MP was found to have submitted 19 false invoices for "research and translation" work by a body called the European Policy Institute (EPI), signed by its supposed manager.

The Commons Standards and Privileges Committee found the money was instead used to cover travel, hospitality and other costs.

The EPI also did not actually exist as it was being presented - with a general manager and directors - and the signatures were given by the MP himself or someone else "under his authority".

Because the MP controlled the EPI's bank account, he was effectively "submitting invoices to himself and asking the parliamentary authorities to pay", the watchdog said.

The committee concluded that the invoices were "plainly intending to deceive" and described the case as the "gravest" it had handled.

A total of £12,900 was claimed through false invoices and of this around £7,500 was "outside the rules", according to the report. All the money has now been repaid.

Following the report, the Crown Prosecution Service is considering reopening the police investigation into the case and their lawyers met with officers this week.

Mr MacShane wrote a series of letters to the standards commissioner about his actions but they are protected by parliamentary privilege and so could not be used in court.

A by-election is being held in Rotherham on November 29 to find his replacement.