Britain’s politicians are good at some things. Such as committing criminal offences.
Former Labour politician Dennis MacShane has today been sentenced to jail for fiddling his expenses, with courts increasingly willing to make examples of politicians who step out of line.
Half a dozen MPs who sat in the last parliament – and two peers – have been jailed since the 2010 election. Here’s the rundown:
1. Denis MacShane
Former Labour minister MacShane is set to spend three months in jail after pleading guilty to making £13,000 of false expenses claims.
MacShane, who served as MP for Rotherham until resigning at the end of 2012, filed false receipts for “translation services” and used the money to fund trips to the continent.
Justice Sweeney said MacShane had not personally profited from the case but had engaged “deliberate, oft-repeated and prolonged dishonesty over a period of years”.
2. Elliot Morley
The former Labour MP for Scunthorpe was sentenced to sixteen months in jail in April 2011 after admitting that he had claimed £30,000 from parliament for a mortgage that had already been paid off.
3. Jim Devine
Jim Devine, the former Labour MP for Livingston in Scotland, was sentenced to sixteen months in prison back in 2011 after admitting he had falsified receipts worth over £3,000 for improvements to his home.
4. Eric Illsley
The ex-Labour MP for Barnsley Central was sentenced to a year in prison after admitting three charges of false accounting early in 2011.
Illsley wrongly claimed more than £14,000 after charging the taxpayer more than the going rate for council tax and bills at his second home in London.
5. Lord Hanningfield
The former Conservative leader of Essex County Council was jailed for nine months in 2011 after being found guilty of claiming almost £14,000 for overnight stays in central London that never happened. He was later ordered to pay back £37,000 by the courts.
As a life peer there was nothing to stop him returning as a legislator in the House of Lords following a twelve month suspension. Last week the Daily Mirror caught him allegedly collecting £300 in expenses after clocking into the Houses of Parliament for less than 30 minutes.
6. David Chaytor
The former Labour MP for Bury North was sentenced to 18 months in jail in 2011 after admitting making false accounting claims worth £20,000. Among other things, he claimed thousands of pounds after saying his mother’s house was his second home .
7. Lord Taylor
Conservative peer Lord Taylor was convicted of false accounting in 2011 after claiming thousands of pounds in travel and maintenance costs for his non-existant home in Oxford.
After being sentenced to a year in jail Taylor was temporarily barred from the House of Lords but is now able to attend as a full member of the legislative body. He was also ordered to pay back £151,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
8. Chris Huhne
Huhne came within a few hundred votes of becoming Liberal Democrat leader in 2007 and could easily have found himself as Deputy Prime Minister following the 2010 general election.
But earlier this year the ex-cabinet minister found himself resigning as MP for Eastleigh after admitting that he had perverted the course of justice by convincing Vicky Pryce, his then-wife, to take speeding points on his behalf.
Pryce – who was herself jailed as part of the same case – has since been romantically linked to Denis MacShane, the Labour MP who was today sentenced to jail. All three sentences were handed down by the same judge.