Laurence Robertson, the Tory MP at the centre of a cash-for-access row following Guido’s two stories yesterday, has been reported to the Standards Commissioner. Edward Buxton, who was Labour’s candidate in Robertson’s Tewkesbury seat, writes to Kathryn Hudson:
Dear Mrs Hudson,
I wish to refer you to the recent allegations that have been made regarding my local Member of Parliament Laurence Robertson and his award of a parliamentary pass to a lobbyist.
The Guido Fawkes website reported that Mr Robertson gave “a parliamentary pass” with “authorised access” to the entire parliamentary estate to Jennifer Bryant-Pearson, “a lobbyist who paid him thousands of pounds.” Jennifer Bryant-Pearson is chief executive of JBP Public Relations, a lobbying firm which specialises in parliamentary affairs.
It was further reported that Mr Robertson has declared “up to £10,000 in payments from Westminster Parliamentary Research”, which is in turn run by Bryant-Pearson. The Telegraph has reported that Mr Robertson is employed as a board member at Veolia Environmental Services and “has declared thousands of pounds in payments from Veolia since 2013.” Veolia Environmental Services has been described as “one of the main clients” of JBP Public Relations.
The overlap between Bryant-Pearson; JBP Public Relations; Westminster Parliamentary Research; Veolia Environmental Services and Laurence Robertson seems to have allowed Mr Robertson to sponsor “Bryant-Pearson for a pass while he was in the pay of her client.”
Mr Robertson has claimed “Ms Bryant-Pearson carried out work supporting All Party Groups (APPG), secretarial duties, publicity, arranging and attending meetings and translation services,” however the use of parliamentary passes for APPG staff was withdrawn on 18 July 2013 and the Serjeant at Arms wrote to all MPs informing them “that this category of pass should not be used in the future”. Yet the pass in question was still held by Ms Bryant-Pearson until a few months ago. If I may can I refer you to the final words of the Guido Fawkes blog post: “it stinks…”
The entire case raises fundamental questions and concerns over the conduct and judgement of Mr Robertson. I would be grateful if you would investigate this matter and inform me of the outcome.
Giving a pass to a lobbyist for APPG work is explicitly banned by the Serjeant at Arms, and Robertson confessed to Guido in writing that this is what he has done. Add in the £40,000 changing hands and this is going to be a very difficult one to explain…