Dennis McShane, the former Labour, then independent, MP for Rotherham has pleaded guilty to ‘expenses fraud’ to the tune of nearly £13,000 on 18th November 2013. This was in connection to putting in false invoices and receipts for ‘research and translation services’.
Sentence has been adjourned to the 19th December.
What’s he going to get?
In theory, this will be governed by the Sentencing Guidelines for Fraud. Looking at page 24, this would be in the third row and fourth column of the grid – a starting point (after a trial) of 6 weeks.
Looking at the Theft Guidelines and treating it as a theft in breach of trust, this would suggest a Community Order.
I say in theory as things are different for MPs. If Mr McShane was an ‘ordinary’ member of the public who fiddled his expenses, it would be a racing certainty that he would get a non-custodial sentence. He is a man of good character and is almost certainly never going to be in trouble again. For that reason, a Community Order (or possibly a Suspended Sentence) would be clearly appropriate.
But, as an MP there is plenty of public interest in the story, and many people want to see ‘expenses cheats’ go to prison. For that reason, I would not be surprised if Mr McShane found himself in prison over Christmas, starting off a sentence of about six months or so.
Watch this space.