DISGRACED former Livingston Labour MP Jim Devine has started a new life in Ireland, despite still owing tens of thousands of pounds.
Devine, 60, was jailed for 16 months in March 2011 over £8385 worth of false expenses claims, but was released after serving four months and moved back to his home town of Blackburn, West Lothian.
But today it was reported he had quit Scotland for good and is now living in picturesque Killarney, County Kerry.
He still has not paid back the money he wrongly claimed in expenses and he owes thousands to his former secretary, Marion Kinley, after being ordered to pay her £35,000 for unfair dismissal.
A source close to Devine was quoted as saying: “Since leaving prison, Jim has decided just to walk away from the debts he owed in Scotland and live in Ireland debt-free – irrespective of the fact he still owes his creditors tens of thousands of pounds. He has clearly got enough income from his House of Commons pension to continue drinking and gambling – where’s the justice in that?”
Devine, a former health union official, was elected as MP following the death of former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in 2005. He had previously acted as Mr Cook’s election agent. Neighbours in West Lothian said that after his release from prison Devine lived like a “hermit” and rarely left his house.
He put the property up for sale last year in a bid to clear his debts, but it is still on the market.
He moved out a few weeks ago. One neighbour was quoted as saying: “The house sale was holding him back, then he turned around and said, ‘That’s me going’.
“He was looking forward to getting out of the road and he was getting stressed because it was taking so long. He just wanted peace and quiet, he was getting hounded everywhere he went.
“He used to go to the shop first thing in the morning to keep out the way of everybody.
“He was becoming a bit of a hermit. He didn’t have much of a life. It’s a new start for him. He’s not coming back.”
Devine had already been forced to sell a one-bedroom flat in London’s Kensington.
He was declared bankrupt after the order to pay compensation to Ms Kinley.
He still owes the House of Commons money obtained from his false expenses.
A Commons spokesman said: “The outstanding debt relates to the same matter that came before the court.”