Fourth British lawmaker guilty of fiddling expenses

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A court on Thursday found an ex-member of the British parliament guilty of making false expenses claims, the fourth lawmaker to be convicted in the scandal over allowances.

Jim Devine, of the main opposition Labour party, was found guilty after a trial at a London court for submitting fake claims for cleaning and printing work worth £8,385 ($13,450, 9,900 euros).

The 57-year-old, who had been a lawmaker in the lower house of parliament representing Livingston in Scotland, had denied three charges of false accounting between July 2008 and May 2009.

The jury convicted him on two counts but he was cleared of the third, which related to £360 in cleaning work. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Devine claimed during the trial that in making his claims he had acted on advice given to him with a "nod and a wink" during an alcohol-fuelled conversation in a bar in parliament.

He had also tried to pin the blame on his former office manager Marion Kinley, claiming she paid herself thousands of pounds from his staffing allowance without his knowledge.

But his defence fell apart under cross-examination at Southwark Crown Court. Prosecutor Peter Wright said the case against Devine was "very straightforward".

The former lawmaker made the fraudulent claims "with a view to gain for himself, or with an intent to cause loss to another -- the public purse", he said.

Devine is the second lawmaker to be convicted after a trial, while two others have pleaded guilty to fiddling their expenses.

Last month, John Taylor, a Conservative member of the House of Lords, was found guilty of falsely claiming for travel and overnight subsistence payments.

Eric Illsley, a former lawmaker in the lower house, is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to three charges of false accounting.

And ex-Labour MP David Chaytor was jailed for 18 months last month after pleading guilty to making false claims.

© 2011 AFP

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