UK Politics

Ex-MP Jim Devine 'requested receipt for no work'

Jim Devine arrives at court
Image caption Mr Devine became an MP at a by-election in 2005

A former Labour MP accused of faking expenses asked a stationery company to confirm he had paid for orders when he never did so, a court has heard.

Jim Devine allegedly requested that invoices be stamped to say money had been "received with thanks" before the orders were paid for.

The former MP for Livingston, on trial at Southwark Crown Court denies charges that he made false claims worth £8,745.

Mr Devine left Parliament at the last general election.

He became an MP after former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who had represented Livingston, died in 2005.

In court, Jennifer McCrea, the retired secretary of Armstrong Printing Limited in Clackmannanshire, said on one occasion Mr Devine had made a request for a receipt as "a matter of urgency".

She said customers often asked for an invoice to be "receipted", as confirmation a payment had been made, which was indicated on the paperwork by the words "received with thanks" being stamped on it.

'Future work'

But she said Mr Devine had made his request before any money had been paid or the printing job had been done.

Ms McCrea recalled a telephone conversation with the former MP, who had an account at the firm, in March 2009.

She said: "He was asking for an invoice for future work. He asked for it to be made out for around £2,400. There was no detail for what actually was going to be printed.

"He asked for it to be receipted. If someone asks for a receipted invoice they want acknowledgement that that particular invoice has been paid."

She said she could not process his request, so had passed it on to the company director, Billy Lochie.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, asked her: "By stamping it and signing it, that assumes that Armstrong Printing received £2,400. And had they?"

She replied: "No they had not."

He asked: "And did they?"

To which she responded: "No they did not."

Ms McCrea went on to say Mr Devine had asked her to write up another invoice, this time for 20,000 pension questionnaires, priced at £3,105.

Again he asked for the invoice to be marked "received with thanks", and again she referred it up to her manager, who completed the request, she said.

Mr Devine faces two charges of false accounting.

The first is that, between July 2008 and May 2009, he dishonestly claimed £3,240 for cleaning services from Tom O'Donnell Hygiene and Cleaning Services.

The second is that, between March 2009 and April 2009, he dishonestly claimed £5,505 for stationery from Armstrong Printing using false invoices.

Mr Devine, of West Main Street, Bathgate, West Lothian, denies both charges. The trial continues.

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