Disgraced MP in resignation vow

A DISGRACED South Yorkshire MP said he "deeply, deeply" regrets dishonestly claiming more than £14,000 in taxpayers' expenses - as he announced he will quit as an MP.

Eric Illsley, MP for Barnsley Central, finally bowed to the intense pressure on him to resign before his sentencing next month.

It came minutes after Commons Speaker John Bercow made it clear that MPs would not be able to vote on a motion to expel Illsley from Parliament until court proceedings were complete.

With the reputation of Parliament at risk of being further tarnished, Illsley issued a short statement apologising for his actions and making it clear he is stepping down. He said: "I would like to apologise to my constituents, family and friends, following my court appearance, for the distress and embarrassment caused by my actions that I deeply, deeply regret.

"I have begun to wind down my parliamentary office, following which I will resign from Parliament before my next court appearance.

"I will be making no further comment."

Illsley, who has an 11,000 majority, was allowed to stand for Labour at the General Election in May despite having already been questioned by police about his expenses. He was sacked from the party after being charged with three counts of false accounting later that month.

On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to three false accounting charges over claims for council tax, maintenance, repairs and utility bills for his second home.

When it emerged he could potentially receive his salary while in prison if a sentence of less than 12 months is imposed - prompting PM David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband to urge him to go voluntarily.

Labour grandee Sir Stuart Bell said: "He has made the right decision in the interests of his constituents, in the interests of the House of Commons, in the interests of his friends and family. It is a tragic end to what had been a fine parliamentary career."

To resign, Illsley will apply for the ceremonial post of Steward of the Manor of Northstead, triggering a by-election.

Labour MPs have previously urged Barnsley Council's leader Steve Houghton to stand for Parliament, although one insider last night said he is unlikely to stand.

Dad-of-two Illsley will not receive a "golden goodbye" pay-off from Parliament, as the controversial system of resettlement grants - which could be worth up to 65,000 - ended after the general election. He can also claim for the costs of winding up his office.

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