MP pleads guilty to expenses fraud charges

Eric Illsley in the Commons, where he now sits as an independent
Eric Illsley in the Commons, where he now sits as an independent

By staff

Barnsley Central MP Eric Illsley has admitted he fraudulently claimed over £14,000 in parliamentary allowances.

The ex-Labour backbencher, appearing at Southwark crown court, put in guilty pleas to all three charges laid against him covering a period from 2005 to 2008.

He admitted submitting expenses forms "which to his knowledge were or may have been misleading, false or deceptive", according to the charge sheet, relating to his council tax, phone, utilities, maintenance and repairs bills.

Mr Illsley could stay on as an independent MP if he is sentenced to less than 12 months, although the pressure for him to resign today was intense.

"I think he should now do the right thing and resign as a member of parliament because I don't think he can be a credible voice for his constituents having pleaded guilty to such as serious offence," Ed Miliband said.

The prime minister also made it clear that he believed Mr Illsley should resign.

The Metropolitan police issued a brief statement welcoming today's guilty pleas, which followed a "thorough and detailed investigation of Eric Illsley's parliamentary claims whilst member of parliament for Barnsley Central".

"As an elected representative, Eric Illsley took advantage of the trust placed in him by his constituents to act honourably on their behalf," Simon Clements of the Crown Prosecution Service's special crime division said.

"Instead, he siphoned off public money into his own pockets and betrayed those who rightly expected the highest standards of integrity from him as a member of parliament."

Illsley was suspended from the Labour party following the charges and now sits in the Commons as an independent.

Ex-Labour MP David Chaytor was sentenced to an 18-month sentence over expenses claims last week.