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10 February 2011

Expenses MP Jim Devine’s car-crash interview

When the Labour MP Jim Devine defended fraud as “moving money around”.

By George Eaton

On the day that the former Labour MP Jim Devine was found guilty on two counts of false accounting, here is the car-crash interview in which he hilariously attempted to justify fraud as “moving money around”.

In the interview, with Channel 4 News‘s Krishnan Guru-Murthy, a tired and emotional Devine admitted submitting false invoices for stationery in order to pay his staff. Yet, in a remarkble display of naivety, he maintained that he had done nothing wrong. His defence? That a Labour “whip” told him the arrangement was legitimate, and he did not personally benefit.

It’s worth watching the interview in full, but here’s the key exchange.

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Jim Devine MP: “I was moving money from communications to the staffing budget.

“I was advised by a whip that I could do this, who said that you could move money about like this.

“There was stationery . . . other parts of the money went into a staffing account. I was told that that was acceptable. Nobody queried it.”

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: “Isn’t that fraud, if you claim for one thing and use it for something else?”

JD: “I don’t see that it is. The fraud, I would suggest, and criminal activity, I would suggest, is that it is to my benefit.

“None of this was to my benefit. I did not financially benefit by these two receipts.”

KGM: “But in simple terms you submitted a claim for five and a half thousand pounds for stationery. You did not spend five and a half thousand pounds on stationery, did you?”

JD: “I moved money around, as I was told I was entitled to do.”