Illsley's fraud saddens Blunkett

DAVID Blunkett today spoke of his sadness over the Eric Illsley expenses scandal and expressed surprise that Mr Illsley did not stand down at the last election.

The former Home Secretary and Brightside and Hillsborough MP said: "I'm very sad that a life of commitment to public service has come to this sorry pass."

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Eric Illsley has already been suspended from the Labour Party. As a result, Eric Illsley is suspended from the Whip and cannot attend any Labour Party meeting.

"It would not be appropriate to comment further as the legal process is still ongoing."

The TaxPayers' Alliance said it was "entirely unfair" for ordinary families to be picking up the tab for what it described as "the luxury lifestyles and out-of-control costs of many of their MPs".

Director Matthew Sinclair said: "Taxpayers will be glad to see that justice is finally being done. But they will be outraged that any MP was able to dishonestly claim tens of thousands of pounds of their money in the first place.

"It is disgraceful that Illsley has dragged out the process and stood for Parliament again, despite knowing that he was a guilty criminal who had ripped off the taxpayers whose interests he was supposed to serve.

"He should have stepped down before the election and offered his constituents a fair alternative."

He called for a "severe" punishment to send a message that MPs are not above the law.

Coun David Baker, Lib Dem deputy leader at Sheffield Council, said: "It's a sad day for politics in South Yorkshire as although this was a Labour MP, all politicians get tarred with the same brush when this kind of thing happens."

Barnsley Council Labour leader Coun Stephen Houghton said he did not wish to comment until after Illsley was sentenced .

Illsley, who grew up in Barnsley and went to Holgate Grammar School, had been Barnsley Central MP since 1987. He was previously an official for the National Union of Mineworkers.

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