Ed Miliband says Denis MacShane was right to resign

Denis MacShane Photo: PA file picture

Former Labour minister Denis MacShane was "right" to step down from Parliament after being condemned for abusing expenses rules, the party's leader Ed Miliband said today.

The Rotherham MP announced on Friday that he was resigning from Parliament after the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee recommended a year's suspension from the House for claiming thousands of pounds using fake receipts.

The Metropolitan Police, which dropped an investigation into the MP earlier this year, has said it is now "assessing the content" of the committee's report.

But Commons authorities have insisted that potentially incriminating letters from Mr MacShane to the standards commissioner cannot be used against him in court.

Senior officials say they are protected by parliamentary privilege because they were collected during proceedings of the House.

Asked today whether Mr MacShane had let Labour down, Mr Miliband said: "Yes. I think he did the wrong thing, and I think it was really disturbing to see the evidence of what's happened in terms of Denis.

"But I think he's accepted that, and it's right that he's accepted that. It is right that he has stood down from Parliament because he has recognised the scale of what has happened. It was the right thing for him to do.

"It means there will be a new representative in his constituency who will take the work forward."

Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon found Mr MacShane had entered 19 "misleading" expenses claims for thousands of pounds of research and translation services from a body called the European Policy Institute (EPI), signed by its supposed general manager.

However, the institute did not exist "in this form" by the time in question and the general manager's signature was provided by Mr MacShane himself or someone else "under his authority".

As the MP controlled the EPI's bank account, he was effectively "submitting invoices to himself and asking the parliamentary authorities to pay".

The case was referred to Scotland Yard in October 2010, but police were not handed any of Mr MacShane's evidence or the other information amassed by the commissioner.

They dropped the case this July after receiving advice from the Crown Prosecution Service on an initial evidence file.