Former Livingston MP Jim Devine leaves prison

Image caption,
Devine was the first MP to stand trial over his expenses

Former Labour MP Jim Devine has been released from prison after serving a quarter of his 16-month sentence for expenses fraud.

The ex-MP for Livingston was jailed in March after he was found guilty of claiming £8,385 using false invoices for cleaning and printing work.

He was released from Standford Hill Prison in Kent on Monday morning.

Devine is one of six parliamentarians - four former Labour MPs and two former Tory peers - to have been jailed.

It is understood Devine, 58, has been released under home curfew, which allows low-risk prisoners serving sentences of more than three months but less than four years to be freed with an electronic tag.

'False claims'

David Chaytor and Eric Illsley have both already been released under the home detention curfew scheme after serving a third and a quarter of their sentences respectively.

The fourth ex-MP, Elliot Morley, remains in prison, along with Conservative peers Lord Taylor and Lord Hanningfield.

At his trial, the judge, Mr Justice Saunders, said Devine had "set about defrauding the public purse in a calculated and deliberate way.

"Mr Devine made his false claims at a time when he well knew the damage that was being caused to Parliament by the expenses scandal, but he carried on regardless."

He said cleaning and maintenance work claimed for by Devine was either not done at all or not paid for by Devine, and that invoices submitted for printing work were "entirely bogus".

Excluded from Labour

And he said Devine had been "lying in significant parts of the evidence that he gave" during his court case.

In mitigation, Devine's lawyer said the fraud had been "entirely out of character" and prison would "bear heavily on him".

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Jim Devine was excluded from the Labour Party some time ago and is no longer a member."

Illsley, 56, who was jailed for 12 months in February after pleading guilty to £14,000 in expenses fraud, was released in May after three months behind bars.

Chaytor, 61, served four-and-a-half months of his 18-month sentence after falsely claiming more than £22,000 of taxpayers' money.

'Hollow gesture'

In March, the Court of Appeal rejected an attempt by the former lecturer and ex-Labour MP for Bury North to have his prison sentence reduced, ruling that his offences were "a grave breach of trust" that contributed to "serious damage" to Parliament's reputation.

Emma Boon, campaign director of The Taxpayers' Alliance, said releasing Devine early "makes his sentence look like a hollow gesture and will do nothing to help restore public faith in Parliament".

Devine was declared bankrupt in April, following a separate hearing at Livingston Sheriff Court.

The insolvency order was made after he failed to pay his former office manager Marion Kinley £35,000 for unfair dismissal.

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