British ex-Europe minister jailed for expenses fraud
Britain's disgraced former Europe minister Denis MacShane was on Monday jailed for six months after admitting he falsely claimed thousands of pounds in parliamentary expenses.
MacShane, 65, made bogus claims worth £12,900 ($21,100, 15,400 euros) to fund trips to Europe, including a visit to Paris to judge a literary competition.
The former Labour lawmaker, a fluent French speaker, muttered "Quelle surprise" as he was led from the dock at London's Old Bailey court.
Judge Nigel Sweeney said MacShane, who was Europe minister from 2002 to 2005, would have to serve half his sentence in prison and pay legal costs of £1,500.
"You have no one to blame but yourself," the judge said.
Sweeney told MacShane his dishonesty had been "considerable and repeated many times over a long period".
He had shown "a flagrant breach of trust" that "reduced confidence in our priceless democratic system", the judge added.
MacShane submitted fake receipts to parliament for "research and translation" and spent the money on the trips.
The fraud revelations forced him to resign as the member of parliament for Rotherham, northern England, in November 2012.
Several other lawmakers have been jailed for fiddling their parliamentary expenses following a major expose by the Daily Telegraph newspaper in 2009.
The expenses scandal rocked British politics and continues to fuel debate on politicians' pay.
MacShane had been a lawmaker since 1994, serving as a minister under former prime minister Tony Blair.
Police started examining MacShane's expenses nearly three years ago in the wake of revelations published in the Telegraph, before dropping the case.
But the investigation was reopened after a parliamentary standards committee report published a year ago -- which included details that had not previously been seen by police -- found that he had made bogus claims.
© 2013 AFP