Harman Unfit for Quasi-Judicial Privileges Committee Chairmanship

Guido’s already covered the irony-come-hypocrisy of Labour appointing Harriet Harman – a woman who herself received multiple Fixed Penalty Notices as a minister – to lead the investigation into whether Boris misled the house. Christopher Hope reckons she might be a poor pick for natural justice reasons. The chair vacancy originally arose when Chris Bryant acknowledged that, given he’d already made a number of anti-Boris statements in the media and the committee’s findings would have been completely compromised:

“However, it is also important that the House be seen to proceed fairly without any imputation of unfairness and that the whole House have confidence in the Committee of Privilege’s proceedings.”

It’s now emerged his replacement, Harman, has not been neutral on the question up until this point either. She has tweeted her views relating to allegations around the PM’s truthfulness, with one saying “If PM and CX admit guilt, accepting that police right that they breached regs, then they are also admitting that they misled the House of Commons”. You wouldn’t favour your chances going to trial if the judge was on the record with such levels of preconceived bias…

Yesterday in the Commons, Andrew Murrison asked Michael Ellis whether he agreed “that those placed in a position of judgment over others must not have a previously stated position on the matter in question”. The Cabinet Office minister replied:

“It is, of course, an age-old principle of natural justice that no person should be a judge in their own court.

Where an individual has given a view on the guilt or innocence of any person, they ought not to then sit in judgment on that person. I know that point he is referring to, and I have no doubt that the right honourable lady will consider that.”

It seems to be yet another own goal by Labour, mind-made-up Harman’s appointment totally undermines the impartiality of the privileges committee investigation…

mdi-timer 17 June 2022 @ 09:11 17 Jun 2022 @ 09:11 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Labour to Appoint FPN-Loving Harman to Lead Investigation into Boris

Labour is set to appoint ex-Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman to chair Parliament’s Privileges Committee investigation into whether the PM misled the Commons over Partygate. The vacancy was created when Chris Bryant stepped down because he didn’t want the investigation to look biased. Guido’s not sure whether any Tory in the country is going to accept Harman’s judgements as politically neutral…

If Labour goes ahead with the bizarre appointment, not only will the PM be judged by someone equally as biased as Bryant, having called for the PM to quit, it’ll be one of the few Labour MPs who’s racked up more Fixed Penalty Notices than Boris. As Guido pointed out when Harman accused the PM of breaking the laws he made, she was charged with three speeding offences during her time as a minister…

It may not matter either way: the Telegraph reports some believe even if found guilty the PM could avoid a by-election, given the 2015 legislation only applies to suspensions handed out by the Standards Committee – not the Privileges Committee. The greased piglet won’t stop wriggling…

mdi-timer 26 May 2022 @ 17:14 26 May 2022 @ 17:14 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Donor Gives Priti Patel £100,000, Neil Coyle’s Awkward Donor

Stories arising from updates to the MPs’ Register of Interests are like catching a bus: you wait for one and a couple come along at once. Scrolling through today’s updates there are some eyebrow-raising entries: for example, Chris Bryant has received £7,600 for the rights to make a television series based on his book. The book in question isn’t listed, though Guido would be surprised if it’s not The Glamour Boys, about a group of young, gay MPs who helped fight Hitler…

Former Labour chief whip Nick Brown has also registered his departure as a non-executive director of the Mariinksky Theatre Trust – an arts body with links to Russia – though this was less his decision and more a result of the trust closing down just shy of its 30-year birthday following the invasion of Ukraine.

Guido couldn’t help laughing at Neil Coyle’s registering of £3,000-worth of support from the Refugee, Asylum and Migration Policy Project (RAMP), in the form of a policy advisor for 2.5 days per week from January to February this year. According to RAMP’s website they are focused on “re-imagining a world-class migration system for a successful and integrated Britain”. They’re now donating services to an MP suspended by the Labour Party for allegedly making racially charged remarks about a journalist of Asian origin…

The jaw-dropper this month is undoubtedly Priti Patel, who totally puts to shame Geoffrey Cox’s high earnings. She’s just registered a whopping £100,000 donation from Anduyrand Capital Management, “a private fund management company in fundamental commodity strategies with a specialisation in the oil and energy complex.”

Drinks on Priti…

mdi-timer 30 March 2022 @ 16:53 30 Mar 2022 @ 16:53 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Government Tells Bryant to Shove his ‘Respect’ Principle Proposals

Yesterday it emerged the government’s dropped plans to limit MPs’ earnings from second jobs following the Geoffrey Cox row last year. Beyond their opposition to this proposed reform, Guido spots the government has also stuck two fingers up at another proposal from Chris Bryant – to add “respect” to the parliamentary behaviour code, to “demonstrate anti-discriminatory attitudes and behaviours through the promotion of anti-racism, inclusion and diversity”. All very wet…

Looking through the government’s response, Guido notes Stephen Barclay and Mark Spencer have strongly rejected the proposal on the grounds of free speech:

“we think it is of overarching importance to emphasise tolerance of different viewpoints and protect free debate when considering any changes.

We would not want to stifle legitimate debate on politically contentious issues which are important to our democracy – as an indirect consequence of the proposed new requirement for ‘anti-discriminatory attitudes’ or demonstrating ‘inclusion and diversity’. This could have a chilling effect on free speech on contentious and polarised political issues. This has recently been illustrated in the Lords, in the controversy over the role of the Lords Standards Commissioner in relation to a complaint made against four peers for comments they made in a debate. Even if a Members’ views or opinions are not in scope of the standards process, such a provision risks generating partisan complaints that could ultimately discourage Members’ free speech on highly contentious matters of public policy.”

This point is something supported by the Free Speech Union, who submitted evidence as part of the consultation arguing against adding the ‘respect’ principle, which would “attempt to regulate the ‘attitudes’ of MPs, i.e., their views and opinions.” Presumably it would also prevent Boris from correctly calling out Starmer’s role in the CPS’s failure to prosecute Jimmy Saville…

mdi-timer 18 March 2022 @ 12:10 18 Mar 2022 @ 12:10 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Bryant’s New Nine-Point Plan to Clean Up Politics

As promised, Chris Bryant’s Standards Committee has come out with a nine-point list to clean up Parliament’s standards rules. Here’s Guido’s precis for co-conspirators:

  1. An outright ban on Members providing paid parliamentary advice, consultancy or strategy services
  2. MPs must have a written contract for any outside work, explicitly saying they cannot lobby
  3. Clarifying the “serious wrong exemption” rule in the lobbying code
  4. Double the six-month limit on reward or consideration restrictions in the lobbying rules to 12 months
  5. Encouraging MPs to seek expert advice before acting, meaning they cannot ‘accidentally’ breach the code of conduct
  6. Ending the ministerial exemption to register gifts and hospitality
  7. Improve the transparency and searchability of the register
  8. Adding a new code of conduct rule banning MPs from subjecting anyone to “unreasonable and excessive personal attack”
  9. Adding an 8th principle to the public life principles – “Respect”

This last one is already facing significant opposition from MPs…

mdi-timer 29 November 2021 @ 16:15 29 Nov 2021 @ 16:15 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Man Arrested Over Death Threat Sent to Chris Bryant

A man has been arrested by South Wales police for sending a death threat to Labour’s Chris Bryant, just one day after the murder of Sir David Amess. Bryant made the complaint to the police and learnt about the arrest while live on BBC Breakfast. 

South Wales police said they were “called around 4.30 p.m. on Saturday 16th October following reports of malicious communications being sent to a 59-year-old man from Porth.”

“A 76 year old man from Pontycymer, Bridgend, has been arrested on suspicion of malicious communications.”

His email death threat came after posting on Twitter pleading with people to lower the negativity in politics.

[tweet https://twitter.com/RhonddaBryant/status/1449220597666525184]

MPs have spent all weekend voicing how they fear for their safety…

mdi-timer 18 October 2021 @ 09:23 18 Oct 2021 @ 09:23 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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