Jim Devine 'lied to cover up other lies'

Exactly three years ago Marion Kinley walked out of her job as office manager for former Livingston MP Jim Devine.

It is a strange coincidence that her "absolute nightmare" began on the same date that her ex-boss received a 16-month jail term for fraudulently claiming £8,385 in parliamentary expenses.

Ms Kinley had worked for the 58-year-old when he was an official at public sector union Unison, and again when he was elected to the Commons.

She initially regarded her boss as a friend.

"He was always a good laugh, good on a night out - he was the life and soul of the party," she said.

But she said she had seen a negative side to Devine: "He exaggerated everything.

"I've always said he was a Walter Mitty character but there's no harm in that if it's just exaggerations."

But the 47-year-old said his failings soon began to take a more sinister turn.

Image caption Jim Devine was found guilty after a trial at Southwark Crown Court

"The alcohol and the arrogance about being an MP made him think he was untouchable and invincible," she said.

"He thought he could say or do anything he liked and get away with it because he was an MP."

On 31 March, 2008, the Glaswegian was hit by a thunderbolt when she returned to work after a seemingly normal weekend.

"Jim had asked a friend to phone me up pretending to be a reporter who was doing an article on his expenses, and in particular my salary," she said.

"I'd got the message on my phone and Jim told me he'd confirmed with an editor that the woman was a reporter.

"But I realised it was a pack of lies when I found the e-mail from his friend, saying that she'd pretended to be a reporter.

"After that I went home sick and never heard from him again."

After the hoax, Ms Kinley took her case to an employment tribunal.

It only concluded in October last year, when the MP was ordered to pay his former office manager £35,000 for unfair dismissal and breach of contract.

'Habitual liar'

Ms Kinley said Devine had begun spreading stories about her before the tribunal ended.

"He said I'd made fraudulent claims and the reason I'd done it was because I had a gambling addiction and went to casinos three times a week," she said.

When he was on trial Devine claimed he had to put in the false claims because the tribunal had put him in financial trouble.

But Ms Kinley said: "The £35,000 wasn't awarded to me until October and he put in the false claims in 2009.

"He just lied to cover up other lies. He's a habitual liar."

Now that the case has concluded, after "a long three years", Ms Kinley says she is keen to get on with her life.

She said: "I don't take any delight in seeing him go to prison because he was a friend.

"But he tried to blame everyone to save his own skin. He deserves to go to jail."

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