The Commons Standards Committee has found that Tory MPs Natalie Elphicke, Sir Roger Gale and Theresa Villiers should be suspended for one day over “an improper attempt to influence judicial proceedings”. Colonel Bob Sewart and Adam Holloway will also have to apologise to the House. The findings followed an investigation into their attempts to lobby judges ahead of a hearing in court of former MP Charlie Elphicke. They stupidly used Commons stationery to lobby the justices…
From the report:
The Members concerned had several avenues open to them by which they could legitimately have raised their concern over the issues at stake in the case. These included making representations to the court through the proper channels, as they were invited to do, and approaching the Government’s point of liaison with the judiciary, the Lord Chancellor. Despite having these alternative options, they chose to write privately to two senior judges to request their intervention in a decision that properly belonged to Mrs Justice Whipple and that would be made in accordance with the court’s normal processes. Their letters were, appropriately, disregarded and they were rebuked by the Lord Chief Justice. There is no suggestion that the Members concerned actually influenced the outcome of the hearing. But they sought to do so, and by acting as they did risked giving the impression that elected politicians can bring influence to bear on the judiciary, out of public view and in a way not open to others. Such egregious behaviour is corrosive to the rule of law and, if allowed to continue unchecked, could undermine public trust in the independence of judges.
We therefore agree with the Commissioner that, in sending their letters of 19 and 22 November 2020, Mrs Elphicke, Sir Roger, Mr Holloway, Col Stewart and Ms Villiers undertook an action which caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its Members generally, and was therefore a breach of paragraph 17 of the Code.
We further conclude, as a consequence of the above, that, by using House-provided stationery in order to do so, Mrs Elphicke, Sir Roger, Mr Holloway, Col Stewart and Ms Villiers also breached paragraph 16 of the Code.