Week 44: Villain – Denis MacShane

by Jackie_South on November 4, 2012

This week, our panel’s award for the biggest villain of the last seven days goes to the disgraced MP, Denis MacShane

On Friday, the House of Commons standards and privileges committee suspended Denis MacShane for an unprecedented 12 month period for submitting false invoices.  MacShane later bowed to the inevitable and resigned.  The committee called this “the gravest case” that has come to them.

There have been three elements to his fraud.  First, he claimed £12,900 between January 2005 and January 2008 for “research and translation” work carried out by the European Policy Institute.  That “research and translation” included travel, food, drink and books, and the invoices were not for how much of these he actually bought but were “broad estimates” of his expenditure.

But more significantly the European Policy Institute did not exist in the way presented on the invoices.  Those invoices were signed off by the ‘general manager’ of the Institute, who turned out to be one Denis MacShane.  He signed off all the invoices and was the  person who controlled the Institute’s bank account.

Second, he managed to get through eight laptops in three years, laptops paid for by the tax-payer, because he decided off his own bat to give them away to interns working for him as a leaving present.  Very generous, but then it is always easy to be generous with someone else’s money.

Finally, he claimed nearly £20,000 a year in expenses for his constituency office, which would have been fair enough if that office had not been based in the garage of his South Yorkshire home.

This is fraud on a grand scale.  Remember, some former MPs have already done time for less: Jim Devine’s bungling false accounting was far less calculating and for much less money.  It is pretty staggering therefore that the police called a halt to their investigations in July and welcome news that they are now reopening the case.

We should perhaps not be surprised: MacShane has a history for lying.  As a journalist, he was fired from the BBC in 1977 for ringing up the radio programme he worked on using a false name.  He got muslim MP Khalid Mahmood to front up a pro-Israeli piece he had written called “The Five Myths Muslims Must Deny”.

He claimed in a 2007 speech in Parliament that there were 25,000 trafficked women working as sex slaves in the UK when the facts suggest the figure was in the hundreds.  That does not of course mean that this trafficking is not a serious issue, but has big implications on what the policy responses to the issue should be.

He has also been pretty unpleasant in his attacks on people: publicly claiming that Gary McKinnon’s Asperger’s was a fiction to get his out of being extradited.  He bullied a newly-recruited volunteer with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, beyond the point that he had been reduced to tears, at an induction event and did not stop until another member of staff intervened.  He called the gender theory work of LSE professor Anne Phillips “poisonous drivel”, despite apparently not having read the essay in question.

And that of course appears to be how he got the police to drop the investigation: by Jimmy Savile-style bullying of those who claimed he had done wrong.  Life lesson: always be most suspicious of those who respond to allegations by coming out fighting.

Even when he was found guilty by the committee, he suggested that this had all been some plot by the BNP against his work on antisemitism and that he had just been a bit foolish.  Whilst I have no doubt that former BNP member Richard Barnbrook’s charges were politically motivated, there would not have been anything to find if MacShane had been in the right.  His claim rings a little like that line from Scooby-Doo villains: “I would have got away with it too if it hadn’t been for those pesky kids”.

MacShane is a proper lying, bullying, fraudulent villain.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Paris Claims November 4, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Jail time is what he needs. Where was he when all that grooming was going on right under his nose?

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