Sunday, 7 February 2010

Busy Week in Court for Devine

Earlier this week it was announced that on 11 March Livingston Jim Devine will have to appear in Westminster Magistrates Court to make his initial appearance over his alleged expenses theft. However, from the Daily Record 8-10 March he will be in Court in Edinburgh for a review of the unfair dismissal case against him from his former office manager Marion Kinley.

The initial finding over unfair dismissal found that Devine had failed to file forms correctly. There does appear to be a trend there for his week in court. Ms Kinley who was the MPs between June 2006 and October 2008 claimed she only received £60 petrol money for the two years that she drove Devine around the constituency, his expense claims show he received more from the Fees Office. Devine himself had asked for the review just as he himself referred his expenses to the police.

So Devine will go from facing allegations of harassment and bullying from his former employee one day to claims about his expenses the next. Not necessarily going to be a good week for the former psychiatric nurse. Certainly going to be a stressful and full on though.

Meanwhile the latest defence from Devine over his expenses is that he was moving money between his various accounts. He said:

"The false receipt would be if the £5,500 was going into my pocket. It was about moving money about in my accounts. In my innocence, I was told that was acceptable."

"The stationery was for paying for leaflets and moving money from one account to another. We had run out of money in the staffing account and had a lot of money in the communications account.

"We have four separate accounts – London living allowance, a staffing allowance, a communication budget and an office budget – and you can move money around these accounts.

"We were moving money from the communications budget to the staffing budget."

"I was advised by a whip that I could do this … an individual in the whip's (office] who said you could move money about like this. I was told that was acceptable. Nobody queried it."

Now a former local party treasurer running multiple accounts I have never heard the need to claim a receipt from a third party to move funds, especially as the receipt was to gain money from another third party, the fees office. All you have to do is keep a track of the transfer of money between accounts for the annual returns under PPERA 2000 requirements.

What he has just admitted to is that you had run out of money in the staffing account and therefore were using another part of Government allowance to cover the short fall. Devine therefore has paid out more in staff allowances than he is allowed too, apparently claimed falsely in a separate area in which he can claim.

He is also admitted to paying for leaflets out of his communications allowance. Now his annual report would have been covered under such an allowance but electioneering leaflets would not have been a legitimate claim under his communications allowance. If he has misspoken on what he was claiming for and it was his annual report, maybe Devine should learn to keep his mouth shut. However, if it was a slip from the facade of being doing things by the book he continues to open up whole other cans of worms with every defence he throws out into the public domain.

Hat tip to Jonathan Calder at Liberal England.


  1. As someone on Twitter said - its the Crilly Defence

    But shouldn't he have been told to keep quiet and not give interviews

  2. Well the end of their statement on Thursday said that they wouldn't be doing media. Devine was on TV's everywhere that day.

  3. You don't need to come up with receipts to move money between budget headings - MPs can move a proportion of each budget heading around, is it 10%. So if they need to take on more staff, they can take 10% of the office expenses budget and put it in the staff budget, just like that.