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Printing firm faces questions about work for Labour MPs
Shamed MP Jim Devine's aide tells all
- the booze, smears, bets and fiddles
Mark Aitken - Sunday Mail - 13th February 2011
Expenses cheat MP Jim Devine is today exposed as a foul-mouthed bully who tried desperately to hide his boozing and gambling from voters.
Former aide Marion Kinley – who Devine tried to smear with hints of an affair and claims of a vendetta against him – breaks her silence to reveal the truth about the disgraced politician. Devine faces jail after being convicted last week of fiddling his Westminster expenses.
During his trial, he tried to blame Marion, who ran his Livingston constituency office, for his fraud, saying she had framed him because of a vendetta.
And his lawyer asked him during his evidence if he had had an affair with her.
Marion, who is in a relationship, said: “No amount of money in the Treasury would entice me to have an affair with him.
“He was asked that question to embarrass me and to make people wonder if he did have an affair.
“He had a reputation as a ladies’ man but that must have been before I ever met him. He liked to pretend that in London he was with this one and that one, though he never named them.
“He was Walter Mitty. You could only believe 10 per cent of what he told you.
“I joked with him, ‘Jim, do you not have a mirror in your flat in London?’”
In an explosive interview, Marion also today reveals how Devine:
** Ordered her to take his empty booze bottles to her house to hide them from the binmen.
**Begged low-paid staff to use their own cash to place bets for him in a local bookies.
**Demanded that she bring him a cooked roast chicken from Asda and two bottles of Spanish wine for his weekly return from Westminster.
Devine, 57, was found guilty by a jury at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday of making two dishonest expenses claims totalling £8385.
Marion, who worked with Devine as a union official and an MP for more than 10 years, says he always boasted: “My motto is deny, deny, deny.”
It was a policy which worked for him until his expenses fraud finally caught up with him.
As a union official, Devine was so notorious that the Unison secretarial pool once drew straws to avoid working for him.
Marion drew the short straw at that time but says she managed to get on with her new boss.
After he became an MP in 2005, she accepted his offer to become his constituency office manager.
She worked for him for two years before becoming so ill with stress she was signed off sick. She was later awarded £35,000 by an employment tribunal for constructive unfair dismissal.
She said yesterday: “I did everything for him. He would phone me 24/7.
“He would even phone me to put his Lottery numbers on.”
Marion, from Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow, worked in the constituency office while Devine worked at the House of Commons during the week.
She said: “He would phone me on a Thursday from Westminster and ask me to get his shopping run for him.
“It consisted of a cooked roast chicken from the Asda deli counter, two £7 bottles of Torres Sangre de Toro red wine, bread and milk.
“I picked him at Edinburgh airport, when he was already quite well on from drinking in the Westminster bars. I would take him home and give him his dinner. He even asked me to take home the wine bottles from his recycling bin.
“He wanted me to take them home to my own bin so his didn’t look so full.
“He didn’t want the binmen at West Lothian Council to know how much he drank.
“If he missed his flight, he wouldn’t phone me to let me know. He would keep me sitting at the airport waiting for him. One time, he phoned me to say, ‘I’m at the airport, where are you?’
“I said, ‘I was at the airport, and you weren’t.’ He said, ‘How the f*** am I to get home?’ I told him to get a taxi. His attitude was ‘I pay your salary, you’re at my beck and call.’”
On Friday mornings, Marion would pick Devine up from his Blackburn home and drive him to the bookies to place a bet on the horses.
She said: “He would give his betting slip and sit in the car while I went to put his bet on. He didn’t want his constituents to know that he gambled so much.
“He would also phone the office to say he had been given a tip and asked for someone to put a bet on for him.
“I went about 10 times to the bookies for him. Other times, I would pretend I didn’t have any money with me.
“He would ask other people in the office if they had money. But they would also say they didn’t have money.
”On a Friday, he would put £50 on a horse on the nose. But I wouldn’t imagine Friday was the only day he gambled.”
Marion also revealed Devine had a furious temper and was prone to foul-mouthed outbursts.
He once sacked a young researcher in an office cupboard over casework he claimed had been botched.
Marion said: “It was a tiny cupboard with only a sink and draining board in it.
“Devine shouted and bawled at him, and told him to clear his desk and get out. He was really upset. He was white and shaking. I felt sick.”
She also recalls Devine berating another member of staff in a pub in a row over her workload.
She said: “Devine started having a right go at her, shouting and bawling at her in the middle of the pub.
“I stood up for her and he was absolutely furious. After the lunch, Devine and I got in the car so I could drop him off home.
“He shouted at me, ‘Don’t you ever f***ing do that to me again. In future, whatever I say goes and you’ll f***ing accept it.’”
Marion earned £35,000 a year – about half of Devine’s salary as an MP. But she says he grew jealous of her lifestyle.
She said: “Devine was always skint. He would say to me, ‘How the f*** can you afford to go on holiday? I’m the MP. I can’t even afford a week in Ireland.’
“I once went to New York for Christmas shopping. I knew if I told him where I was going, he wouldn’t give me the time off. So I had to kid on I was going to Stirling.
“He seemed to think he was paying me too much. I would tell him, ‘I don’t drink and gamble all my money away.’”
Printing firm faces questions about work for Labour MPs
Paul Hutcheon - Sunday herald - 13th February 2011
A printing firm that provided Jim Devine with invoices for jobs never carried out is facing questions about its work for other Labour MPs.
John Wilson, an SNP MSP for Central Scotland, has called for an investigation into the links between Armstrong Printing Ltd and Scottish Labour.
Witnesses linked to the Alloa-based firm, which lists Labour councillor Margaret Brisley as a director, were part of the prosecution’s case against Devine.
Between March and April 2009, the company provided the former MP with two invoices for work worth £5505. However, the jobs never took place.
Giving evidence, Jennifer McCrea, a former secretary at Armstrong, said Devine asked her to state on a £2400 invoice he had paid for the work.
“He asked for it to be receipted. If someone asks for a receipted invoice they want acknowledgement the particular invoice has been paid,” she said.
She declined and passed the request to her superior, Billy Lochie.
In his evidence, Lochie said the phrase “received with thanks” was then marked on the invoice after Devine assured him the firm would be paid.
The firm is now facing questions over the work it carried out for other Labour politicians.
According to the database of MPs’ allowances, the firm has received thousands of pounds from jobs carried out for Labour MPs.
Wilson said the firm had questions to answer. “Armstrong Printing has to state whether the practice of providing receipted invoices to MPs before the work was carried out was common or not. All the MPs who used their publicly-funded allowances to give work to this firm need to list all the jobs that were carried out. The company’s links to Labour need to be fully investigated,” he said.
According to official financial statements, the firm’s net assets were £115,081 in March 2008, £57,269 in 2009, and £18,691 last year.
A Labour spokesman said: “This is an outrageous political smear by the SNP because every expense claim by every MP has now been scrutinised by an independent auditor and are already published online for all to see.
“Jim Devine asked the Fees Office to pay cash into his bank account for non-existent printing but such fraud is isolated and he was rightly prosecuted. Other MPs asked the Fees Office to pay printers direct in respect of work that actually existed, so no money ever crossed their hands.”
When contacted, Armstrong Printing said: “It’s not unusual to give an invoice in advance of a job being done. There was no wrongdoing on our part.”
Asked whether the firm had given any other Labour politician an invoice for a future job, the spokesman said: “In the past, I don’t know.”
He said work had also been carried out for the Tory Party in the past.
Claims row MP cannot stand again
Expenses-scandal MP told to pay aide £35000 over sex slur and bullying
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