Straw and Rifkind Let Off By Standards Commissioner

Jack Straw did not break parliamentary rules when he boasted he could use his influence to change EU rules for a company that pays him £60,000-a-year:

“I got in to see the relevant director general and his officials in Brussels …  and we got the sugar regulations changed,” he said. “I mean … the crucial thing about this, it’s all, it’s public that the regulations have been changed, but the best way of dealing with these things is under the radar”

Malcolm Rifkind has also been cleared this morning. See the original Telegraph/Dispatches story here. Developing…

UPDATE: Despite Straw suggesting he could use his influence to have laws changed in exchange for payment, the Commissioner finds:

“The question of lobbying for reward or consideration simply does not arise”

On Straw boasting about how his reputation and contacts would be useful to a lobbying firm, the Commissioner says sympathetically:

“A Member’s reputation will be important to them and, inevitably, is part of the “package” on which they may rely when they later seek employment outside the House.”

On Rifkind, the Standards Commissioner explains he has let him off on a technicality:

“Had Sir Malcolm’s offer been taken up, particularly after the second meeting when it was clear that PMR were likely to have further questions relating to the possibility of employing him, Sir Malcolm might then have been in breach of the rules by using parliamentary resources for the purpose of boosting his employment prospects.”

The Commissoner says that while Rifkind made “errors of judgement”, “Sir Malcolm has suffered as a result of the allegations and inferences made, which were covered widely in the media”. Playing the world’s tiniest violin…

UPDATE II: The Telegraph and Dispatches get both barrels from the Standards Commissioner:

“the distorted coverage of the actions and words of the Members concerned has itself been the main cause of the damage… If in their coverage of this story, the reporters for Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported what was said by the two Members in their interviews, and measured their words against the rules of the House, it would have been possible to avoid the damage that has been done to the lives of two individuals and those around them, and to the reputation of the House”

Ouch…

UPDATE III: Channel 4 hit back:

“Channel 4 Dispatches stands by its journalism; this was a fair and accurate account of what the two MPs said. This investigation was in the public interest and revealed matters that were of serious public concern.”




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