Labour have written to the Labour MP who let Maria Miller off the hook. Labour’s Shelia Gilmore has written to Labour’s Kevin Barron, who Guido covered in some depth earlier, to formally complain about Miller’s apology.
Dear Mr Barron,
I am writing to make a formal complaint over the personal statement given by Mrs Maria Miller to the House of Commons on Thursday 3rd April. This was inadequate to the point of being contemptuous of your Committee’s report and the Members’ Code of Conduct.
You will agree that adherence to the Code of Conduct and due respect for the Committee on Standards are essential to uphold trust in public life. Mrs Miller has demonstrated neither and the subsequent public condemnation of her behaviour highlights the risk to public trust such behaviour creates.
The Code of Conduct states that “Members shall cooperate, at all stages, with any such investigation by or under the authority of the House”. Your report concludes, however, that “Mrs Miller’s exchanges with the Commissioner repeatedly show a failure to provide information asked for, or to respond adequately to the Commissioner’s questions.”
Your report also states that, “Much of the delay and difficulty in this case has arisen from incomplete documentation and fragmentary information. Mrs Miller has to carry significant responsibility for that.”
These specific points were unaddressed and remain unexplained following Mrs Miller’s abrupt 32 second apology to the House last week.
Following the focus on Members’ expenses and subsequent reform to the system in 2009 there is now a higher bar for all Members to demonstrate the integrity of their conduct in public life. We must act at all times within the spirit as well as the letter of existing guidelines. It is clear that Mrs Miller fell foul of this not just in her conduct during the inquiry but in her apology to the House.
Rather than meaningfully address the arrogant and evasive attitude that characterised her behaviour during the inquiry, she chose to reinforce it in the House of Commons, revealing Mrs Miller to not be apologetic at all.
I want to ask whether you consider Mrs Miller’s apology sufficient given the significance of this issue and whether you would consider asking Mrs Miller to return to the House of Commons to address the specific issues raised in your Committee’s report.
Sheila Gilmore MP
What a sorry mess – this highlights just how bonkers this system is.