British lawmaker faces jail over expenses

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A British lawmaker admitted Tuesday dishonestly claiming more than 14,000 pounds (16,800 euros, 21,800 dollars) in expenses, becoming the first sitting MP to face jail over parliamentary allowances.

Eric Illsley, 55, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court in London to three charges of false accounting, having previously denied all charges.

He was re-elected in May as Member of Parliament for the opposition Labour party in Barnsley, northern England, but was suspended from the party after being charged and now sits as an independent.

He could lose his seat if sentenced to more than 12 months in jail.

On Friday, former Labour lawmaker David Chaytor became the first person to be jailed over the expenses scandal which rocked British politics in 2009.

Illsley made the expenses claims between 2005 and 2008 for local authority tax, telephone usage, service charges and maintenance, and insurance and repairs at his second home in London.

He had previously denied charges of dishonestly claiming more than 25,000 pounds and had been due to stand trial, but his lawyer said Tuesday he admitted wrongly claiming a revised sum of about 14,500 pounds.

During the five-minute hearing, Illsely spoke only to confirm his pleas. The prosecutor accepted the revised figure and the judge ruled that sentencing would take place in four weeks.

Dozens of MPs were caught up in the expenses scandal after The Daily Telegraph newspaper published details of claims, revealing how taxpayers paid for lawmakers' widescreen TVs, furnishings and even an ornamental duck house.

But the worst abuses came in claims for housing, with several lawmakers accused of abusing the system to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds each.

Chaytor, 61, was jailed after admitting submitting bogus invoices to support claims totalling 22,650 pounds for computer services and rent on homes in London and his Bury constituency in northwest England.

But he and his mother already owned the properties and he did not pay out any of his own money.

© 2011 AFP

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