Shadow Arts Minister Breaks Commons Rules Over Registering Culture Freebies

Kathryn Stone has finally bowed out as Parliament’s sleaze commissioner, replaced this week by top lawyer Daniel Greenberg. No time for a curtain call though; before she left, Stone handed out one last judgement. Labour’s shadow arts minister Barbara Keeley has been rapped on the knuckles for failing to declare 11 interests within the 28-day deadline…

According to Stone’s probe, which Greenberg published last night, Keeley missed the deadline for three sets of theatre tickets over the summer: first at the Society of London Theatre, and twice at the Royal Opera House. Clearly singing from the same hymn sheet as Sir Keir, who forgot to register football tickets last year…

Keeley was also late to declare eight survey payments, which have now also been updated. In her swansong statement, Stone said:

“I have considered our correspondence, the published rules and guidance, and the advice from the Registrar of Members’ Financial Interests. I consider that by failing 20 to register the eleven financial interests that were the subject of my investigation, within the 28-days required by the House, you breached paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct for Members.”

Ultimately Stone let Keeley off on the grounds that “there was no deliberate attempt to mislead.” The show must go on…

mdi-timer 10 January 2023 @ 13:16 10 Jan 2023 @ 13:16 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Duncan Baker Fined £4,912 by Standards Commissioner

Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone has rapped Tory MP Duncan Baker on the knuckles for misusing House stationery for constituency letters earlier this year. Baker was ordered to apologise and repay £4,912.42 for sending newsletters on a “range of issues” – Commons stationery can only be used for specific issues – to his constituents last month. Back when posties actually delivered them…

In her decision published today, Stone said:

“After reviewing all the evidence, I found the Member’s use of Parliamentary resources to be a breach of paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct for Members. I found that the letter constituted a newsletter on a range of issues which is prohibited by paragraph 3 of the rules for the use of stationery […] The Member told me that he had believed he was complying with the rules but apologised from the outset if he had inadvertently breached the rules.

He accepted my decision and undertook to refund to the House authorities the sum of £4,912.42 to reimburse the public purse the value of the misused stationery. I considered the breach to be at the less serious end of the spectrum and the Member’s remedial actions to be an appropriate outcome.”

Justice swiftly delivered…

mdi-timer 21 December 2022 @ 14:43 21 Dec 2022 @ 14:43 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Commons Standards Boss Lets Warburton Off with Slap on the Wrist

Disgraced MP David Warburton has been effectively let off with a slap on the wrist, after a Standards investigation into a £150,000 loan he took from a Russian businessman via an off-shore trust.

Kathryn Stone did find against Warburton on two counts, ruling that he breached sleaze rules by failing to register the loan. She also finds that he should have declared the loan when writing to the Financial Conduct Authority on behalf of the lender – Mr Roman Joukovski – a breach of paragraph 14 of the code.

However she decides that Warburton didn’t breach rules around paid advocacy on this latter misdemeanour, as the letter he sent to the FCA didn’t ask for any positive action towards Joukovski, nor did it make any representations on his behalf.

Warburton will merely have to retrospectively add the loans to his register of interests as a late declaration. The supposed coke photos, however, may still prove an impediment to his getting the whip back…

mdi-timer 21 November 2022 @ 12:58 21 Nov 2022 @ 12:58 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Crispin Blunt Slapped on Wrist for Late Registration of £20,000 Payment

The Commons sleaze commissioner Kathryn Stone has ruled that Conservative MP Crispin Blunt breached the Members’ code of conduct by failing to register 10 payments totalling £20,833.30 – in his role as Director of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians – within 28 days of receipt.

In her judgement published last night, Stone gave Blunt a slap on the wrist for his negligence, accepting the breaches were “inadvertent” and not “deliberate“:

“…it is my view that Mr Blunt failed to register the ten payments that he received between 29 August 2021 and 1 June 2022 for his role as Director of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians within the 28-day deadline set by the House. This amounts to a breach of paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct for 25 Members. When making my decision, I took into account the explanations provided by Mr Blunt, and accept that the failure to submit a form notifying the Registrar of Members’ Financial Interests of his regular payments was an oversight on his part. I found that, based on the information available to me, the breaches were inadvertent, and that there was no deliberate attempt to mislead.”

Stone let Blunt off with a written acknowledgement and apology. Oops.

mdi-timer 27 October 2022 @ 12:00 27 Oct 2022 @ 12:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Lammy Broke Commons Rules Over Failure to Register Paid Gigs

The Commons sleaze commissioner has ruled Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy did break rules by failing to register fifteen events in his member’s register of interests declaration. Despite this not being Lammy’s first offence, Kathryn Stone has merely rapped him on the knuckles. Fifteen rule breaches certainly trump Sir Keir’s eight…

Stone’s investigation initially began looking at a complaint that Lammy had failed to register eight events between 7th October 2021 and 15th November 2021, however she uncovered a further seven interests that had also been registered late. While her inquiry was coming to a close, Lammy voluntary brought an additional failure to her attention…

The total payment for the eight initial events was a whopping £20,910

The seven further late registrations identified by Stone totalled an additional £14,884.88.

Lammy’s excuse? Ukraine and Coronavirus. Responding in a letter to Stone, he explains how the oversight occurred:

“During this time, the Leader of the Opposition made a surprise reshuffle of his shadow cabinet on 29 November 2021. I was appointed Shadow Foreign Secretary and immediately thrown into urgent briefings on the impending Russia-Ukraine situation which was developing at pace. This was also at the time of increasing coronavirus cases as a result of the Omicron variant which led to workers being encouraged to work from home.

My office was extremely busy dealing with the fallout from the pandemic situation in my constituency of Tottenham. Furthermore, my office manager, who usually has responsibility for such submissions, was on [details redacted] leave. As a result other staff in the office acted up to cover. This meant we were short staffed and extremely busy. This is why the submissions were overlooked and delayed.”

That’s a hell of an excuse…

mdi-timer 11 August 2022 @ 18:29 11 Aug 2022 @ 18:29 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Starmer Blames Office Staff for Rule Breaches Despite Promising to “Carry the Can”

Remembering back to the Labour leadership hustings two years ago, Starmer of old proudly boasted of his willingness to shoulder the blame for the mistakes of his staff, and promised to always “carry the can” if he won. To be fair, that was the Sir Keir of 2020, who also wrote those ten leadership pledges which are now at the bottom of a dustbin somewhere in Labour HQ …

Now, having been found to have committed a whopping eight breaches of the MP Code of Conduct, things appear to have shifted. In his letters to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone, published last night, Sir Keir takes “full responsibility” for the breaches… only to then repeatedly remind Stone who’s really to blame:

“As I said in my letter on 13th June, these late declarations were as a result of an administrative error within my office […] I apologise for the delay in registering this declaration for these tickets but the person who gave the gift in kind was overseas and my office was trying to obtain the accurate details of the amount in order to declare it. This was an administrative oversight by my office…”

I take full responsibility, but…

mdi-timer 5 August 2022 @ 11:07 5 Aug 2022 @ 11:07 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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