Doing the ring a round of MPs last night on the expenses story I thought I'd start at the top with Jim Devine, the only Scottish MP barred from future candidacy by his party over his expenses claims. He was delighted to report that he had been sensationally cleared by Sir Thomas Legg and is now considering legal action after a police investigation he instigated is over. This from today's Herald
A Labour MP who was barred from standing again for his party over his expenses claims has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the independent auditor of parliamentary expenses.
Jim Devine, who was deselected from his Livingston seat after questions were raised about claims of £4500 worth of expenses, is now considering legal action against the party and his media detractors.
Questions were raised over claims for £2326 to install shelving and do repair work at his constituency office, and £2157 for electrical work at his London home. Mr Devine, one of five Labour MPs to be deselected over expenses claims, has always denied any wrongdoing and claimed to be vindicated in an extract of the letter sent to him by Sir Thomas Legg, which he released to The Herald last night.
It read: "In your case having examined the record in light of my interpretation of the rules and standards in force at the time I have not identified any payments made to under the ACA (additional costs allowance) during the review period which I consider call for any repayment or further supporting evidence to be provided by you.
"Accordingly my conclusion is that no further action is required by you in this matter."
Mr Devine said: "I am absolutely delighted. This is a letter from the man who spent several months scrutinising the claims and I have no case to answer. There is a police inquiry, which I want to clear, but when the investigation is concluded I will take the necessary action. "
Mr Devine did not rule out legal action against the Labour Party or the media, which exposed the alleged discrepancies in his claims.
"I have a lawyer foaming at the mouth asking what criteria was used for referring me to a star chamber," said Mr Devine. "I have had to read in local and national newspapers allegations that were a total fabrication and clearly I have to deal with that."
Mr Devine took the seat in a by-election after the death of Robin Cook in August 2005, and holds it with a majority of just 2680.
Is the old telephone number for Scotland Yard and just about the right handle for the Westminster Editor of the Scottish Daily Record. I mostly patrol Westminster but this is my personal blog, taking in everything from my native Isle of Lewis to the Isle of Dogs in London. You can read my journalism at www.dailyrecord.co.uk and you can contact me directly on torcuil@gmail dot com