Another former MP jailed for expenses offences
10 February 2011
Former Labour MP Eric Illsley has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to £14,000 of expenses fraud in regard of second home claims. The expenses cases have taken a fascinating route through the courts to reach this stage.
I recently posted on the case of David Chaytor, who was sentenced to 18 months after pleading guilty to similar, and the case of Lord Taylor, who has been convicted by a jury but is yet to be sentenced. He will now be looking to the sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Saunders in Illsley’s case for clues as to his fate. The judge has been taking a tough line due on the men due to the breach of public trust aspect of the cases:
For the reasons that I explained when sentencing Mr. Chaytor, these offences were committed in breach of what was the high degree of trust placed in MPs by the authorities in the House of Commons only to make honest claims.
Beyond that, the commission of the offences which came to light as a result of the police investigation into parliamentary expenses has tarnished the reputation of politicians and Parliament. It is vital that people feel able to trust our legislators and their use of public funds. Re-building that trust is likely to be a long process. Of course Mr. Illsley only bears a small part of the responsibility for that loss of trust but it is a significant part.
He took into account the former-MP’s good works, but ultimately concluded:
In the end I am afraid that I take the view that the offences are so serious that only an immediate sentence of imprisonment is appropriate. I reflect the mitigation in reducing the length but it will have to be an immediate sentence. The sentence on each count concurrently will be one of 12 months imprisonment.
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