McShane Jailed For Expenses Fraud

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Disgraced former Labour minister Denis MacShane has been sentenced to six months at the Old Bailey after admitting making bogus expense claims amounting to nearly £13,000.

The ex-MP previously pleaded guilty to false accounting by filing 19 fake receipts for “research and translation” services.

MacShane, 65, used the money to fund a series of trips to Europe, including one to judge a literary competition in Paris.

His guilty plea followed more than four years of scrutiny into his use of Commons allowances.

Flanked by two security officers, MacShane, wearing a dark suit with a blue striped tie and glasses, said “Cheers” as the sentence was delivered, before adding, “Quelle surprise” as he was led from the dock.

Mr Justice Sweeney told MacShane his dishonesty had been “considerable and repeated many times over a long period”.

“You have no one to blame but yourself,” the judge said.

The judge said MacShane had shown “a flagrant breach of trust” in “our priceless democratic system”.

“The deception used was calculated and designed,” he said.

He told MacShane he must serve half his sentence in prison and was ordered to pay costs of £1,500 within two months.

Parliamentary authorities began looking at his claims in 2009 when the wider scandal engulfed Westminster, and referred him to Scotland Yard within months.

But the principle of parliamentary privilege meant detectives were not given access to damning correspondence with the standards commissioner in which MacShane detailed how signatures on receipts from the European Policy Institute (EPI) had been faked.

The body was controlled by MacShane and the general manager’s signature was not genuine. One message, dated October 2009, said he drew funds from the EPI so he could serve on a book judging panel in Paris.

It was not until after police dropped the case last year that the cross-party Standards Committee published the evidence in a report that recommended an unprecedented 12-month suspension from the House.

MacShane, 65, who served as Europe minister under Tony Blair, resigned as MP for Rotherham last November before the punishment could be imposed.

Police then reopened their inquiry in the light of the fresh information and he was charged in May – even though the letters are still not thought to be admissible in court.

The offence of false accounting covered 19 ”knowingly misleading” receipts that MacShane filed between January 2005 and January 2008.

The court heard that MacShane incurred “genuine expenses” for similar amounts which he chose to recoup by dishonest false accounting rather than through legitimate claims.

Mr Sweeney said: “However chaotic your general paperwork was, there was deliberate, oft repeated and prolonged dishonesty over a period of years – involving a flagrant breach of trust and consequent damage to Parliament, with correspondingly reduced confidence in our priceless democratic system and the process by which it is implemented and we are governed.”

The judge said he had considered a number of mitigating features, including MacShane’s guilty plea, and that the offences were “not committed out of greed or for personal profit”.

MacShane had suffered “a long period of public humiliation” and carried out the offences “at a time of turmoil” in his personal life, Mr Sweeney said.

The court heard that MacShane and his wife divorced in 2003, his daughter Clare was killed in an accident in March 2004, his mother died in 2006 and his former partner, newsreader Carol Barnes – Clare’s mother – died in 2008.

The judge also considered his previous good character and that the money had been paid back.

The court heard that MacShane submitted four of his false claims while serving as Europe minister.

He joins a list of politicians prosecuted as a result of the expenses scandal.

They include fellow former Labour minister Elliot Morley, as well as MPs Jim Devine, David Chaytor and Eric Illsley.

Tories to fall foul of the law were Lord Hanningfield and Lord Taylor of Warwick.

Sentences have ranged from nine to 18 months.

Another ex-Labour MP, Margaret Moran, was spared prison and given a supervision order instead after suffering mental health problems.

Mr Sweeney told MacShane that he acknowledged a difference between his case and other MPs sentenced following the expenses scandal.

However, MacShane “deliberately created misleading and deceptive invoices and then used them in order to procure payments of public money”, the judge added.

“You must therefore have been aware throughout that it was an essential feature of the expenses system then in operation that Members of Parliament were invariably treated as honest, trustworthy people, and that the unwritten assumption was that only claims for expenses genuinely incurred in accordance with the rules would be made,” Mr Sweeney said.

“Yet you acted in flagrant breach of that trust.”

Prison Officers Were Warned Raoul Moat Would Kill

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An inquest into the death of a karate instructor who was blasted by gun maniac Raoul Moat has heard that prison officers were warned of his murderous intentions on the day he was released.

Chris Brown, 29, was gunned down in cold blood after starting a relationship with Moat’s ex-girlfriend, Samantha Stobbart, two days after the spurned lover was released from jail in July 2010. Ms Stobbart was also badly injured by shotgun pellets but survived.

Moat went on the run and the next night shot and blinded Pc David Rathband, who was unarmed and sitting in his marked police car.

The inquest at Newcastle Crown Court heard evidence from a witness who was a prisoner in HMP Durham.

The witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons and was referred to as N1, said after Moat had been released that he told a prison officer he would end up killing someone.

“It was sort of an off-the-cuff comment, but I believe I said ‘He’s a lunatic and will end up killing someone’,” he said.

He also told the court that Moat was unbalanced and would get angry when talking about Ms Stobbart and the police.

“He indicated that he was going to take some sort of revenge against her and her partner,” he said.

The court heard that Moat had made it clear that he would never return to prison whatever happened and that he had also boasted about having access to a shotgun and explosives.

At the start of proceedings a statement was read out by Mr Brown’s mother, Sally, which said that, since his death, it had been hell for the family.

“His friends said he was like Marmite – either you loved him or you hated him,” she said.

“But if you loved him you had a friend for life. He was very loyal, happy-go-lucky and never sat still.

“As soon as he tried karate he said he loved it and was good at it. He enjoyed teaching it and especially teaching children.”

She said in the days leading up to his death he had been in good spirits and they had spoken regularly on the phone.

“It has been horrendous for the whole family, I cannot think of anything worse than burying your own child,” she said.

“I can only think of one word to describe it – hell.”

The court was told that Moat had indicated he intended to commit “suicide by cop”, which meant he would put himself in a position where he was shot by the police.

Evidence was also given that in prison he had described very precisely the outside of Ms Stobbart’s house and said a large green verge would make spying on her difficult.

Witness N1 said Moat had told him that he would “shoot to kill” five people, who were Ms Stobbart, her mother, her new partner, a psychiatrist and a social worker.

The hearing follows the Crown Court trial of two of Moat’s accomplices and an inquest into how Moat shot himself during a stand-off with police in Rothbury, Northumberland.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission and an internal prison inquiry have looked at details of Moat’s release from Durham Prison.

At a pre-inquest hearing, Coroner Terence Carney said those hearings had not allowed relatives of Mr Brown, who was from Slough, Berkshire, to ask questions.

An inquest for Mr Rathband, who was found hanged at his home last year, will be heard next month.

MURDERER STABBED “NONCE” IN CELL

A double murderer stabbed notorious child killer Roy Whiting (above) in the eye twice in a West Yorkshire prison because he was a “dirty little nonce”, a court has heard.

Gary Vinter, 42, picked a high profile target in July 2011 because he wanted to change the conditions in which he was held at Wakefield Prison.

Whiting, a convicted sex offender sentenced to life in prison in 2001 for the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne, received emergency care following the attack in his cell and has made a full recovery.

Vinter appeared via a videolink from Long Lartin Prison, Worcestershire, before Mr Justice openshaw sitting at Newcastle Crown Court.

After hearing Andrew Kershaw, prosecuting, give an explanation for the gruesome attack, Vinter said: “He was a dirty little nonce. That’s why I did it.”

Vinter, from Middlesbrough, sneaked into Whiting’s cell and used a sharpened plastic toilet brush handle to stab Whiting in both eyes. Vinter then kicked and punched Whiting as he lay on the floor, before he left the cell.

The double murderer later told prison authorities “the only reason Whiting was still alive is he got tired during the attack,” Mr Kershaw said.

Vinter told officers he had tried to kill Whiting, that as a “natural life” prisoner he had no hope and he had warned the authorities he would target a “high-profiler”. Whiting was treated at Pinderfields Hospital where he received stitches in his eye lids and the shard of plastic was removed.

Vinter admitted wounding with intent at a previous hearing and was given an indefinite sentence, with a notional minimum term of five years.

Vinter is appealing against his full life term before European Human Rights judges at the end of this month. In 1996 Vinter was jailed for life for murdering Carl Edon, 22, a railway signalman. He was released from prison in 2006 after serving a 10-year minimum term. He was recalled to prison for his part in a pub brawl and then went on to murder his wife Anne White, 40, in a chilling offence four years ago.