Charlotte Nichols, 2019 intake Labour MP for Warrington North, has been making ripples in the press since last November, when she told 5 Live that there is a “whisper network list of the people [in Westminster] to avoid”. In December The Sun on Sunday reported there was a new Pestminster list of MPs circulating, with a Tory MP telling the paper this one – unlike the 2017 spreadsheet – contains individuals from “across all the political parties.” The race was on to find a copy…
Then on January 1st, Nichols found herself once again at the centre of controversy after sharing a sexual harassment list of 20 MPs to a WhatsApp group used by fellow 2019 intake MPs. The Mail on Sunday got the scoop, reporting that Nichols told them she’d shared it to the group by mistake and had since deleted the post, though she “stood by every name”. A senior Labour figure told the paper, “If you believe you have evidence that X, Y or Z is a wrong ‘un, then fair enough. But you can’t just put names out like this.”
Perhaps the senior Labour figure is so concerned by Nichols because unlike the infamous 2017 Pestminster list, this new one of 20 MPs is made up of 40% Labour members.
Guido’s been passed the list, and can confirm the breakdown is 11 Tories, 8 Labour and a single senior SNP frontbencher. While no specific allegations against any of the names are made by Nichols, Chris Pincher is among the names, as is Chris Matheson who recently resigned as the MP for Chester for “unwanted sexual advances” towards a junior member of staff. Six of the names on Nichols’ list were on the 2017 list, all of whom are Tories.
Guido’s source also revealed that a Lobby political editor is known to be making inquiries into one senior Labour MP named on Nichols’ list, regarding sexual misconduct. Guido’s only surprise is that her list doesn’t contain some more infamous names…
UPDATE: Guido has now spoken to 2 of the MPs named by Charlotte Nichols, they didn’t know they were on her list and expressed off the record bemusement.
Sir Keir has unveiled his 155-page door-stopper for “a new Britain”, in which he promises to replace the House of Lords, appoint a new anti-corruption commissioner, and move 50,000 civil service jobs out of London. It also reignites the second jobs melodrama that gripped SW1 last year, by promising to ban “the vast majority” of them to “remove conflicts of interest”:
“Second jobs are banned in the American Congress, but a quarter of Conservative MPs had second jobs. In 2012, over 200 MPs received earnings on top of their £65,738 salary. Many were small payments for journalism or the like, but additional earnings as high as £1m were recorded, which means significant time and effort spent on non-parliamentary business.”
The only exceptions will be “for employment required to maintain professional memberships, such as medicine.” Presumably the hundreds of thousands of pounds that shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy has racked up in speaking fees and presenting gigs falls slightly out of the “small payments” remit. Likewise, the £25,934.18 Starmer has declared in legal fees over the last two years isn’t chump change either. Who footed the £17,598.60 bill for 70 hours of Starmer’s time just before he became leader?
The Earl of Shrewsbury has admitted he was “totally at fault” for failing to declare his interest as a company adviser to SpectrumX, a hand sanitiser manufacturer, before asking multiple questions in the House related to government guidance on sanitiser in October 2021. Following an investigation by the Lords Standards Commissioner, launched after complaints by Tom Winnifrith, the report yesterday concluded Earl Chetwynd-Talbot had breached the Lords’ Code of Conduct – albeit inadvertently:
“Lord Shrewsbury has candidly admitted his failure to register the clients of Talbot Consulting Ltd which constitutes a breach of paragraph 12(a) of the Code of Conduct. I accept Lord Shrewsbury’s explanation that his failure to register his interests correctly was inadvertent.”
The Commissioner gave Chetwynd-Talbot a minor slap on the sanitised wrist, concluding it was “a minor breach”, and that a simple apology was the “appropriate” response to allow him to wash his hands of the probe. The Earl did has he was told, and promised to stay squeaky clean in future:
“As previously stated, Talbot Consulting Ltd is a personal service company. I freely admit that I did not read the rule change in 2020 and was unaware of its existence […] It was entirely through my failure to make myself aware of the change of rules in 2020 that I had failed to register the client’s names following that rule change, and I am totally at fault.”
No doubt Lord Shrewsbury will want to wash his hands of this sorry affair…
Hat-tip: Share Prophets
Read the Standards Commissioner’s full report below:
It took just one month for the Commons Standards Commissioner to rule that shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves did break MP sleaze rules over her registration of donations. As Guido pointed out when he reported she was under investigation, this is a ruling against someone who’s accused the Tories of sleaze no fewer than 31 times on Twitter.
According to the commissioner’s findings, Reeves declared a £2,482 donation from CEG to cover the cost of her Christmas cards outside of the 28-day limit, also failing to register a donation from GMB Yorkshire (£2,500) and a donation from Trevor Chinn (£25,370).
A cool £30,352.
As spelt out in black and white by Stone:
“I have decided that by providing inaccurate information about CEG and registering the donation outside of the 28-day time limit set by the House you have breached Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct for Members.”
No doubt if this were a Tory minister Reeves would be the first to point the finger of sleaze…
Labour has hardly shied away from gunning for the Tories on sleaze, not least over Flatgate and Greensill. Leading the charge has been Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, who has accused the Conservatives of sleaze no fewer than 31 times on Twitter. It’s awkward, therefore, that four days ago the Commons sleaze commissioner launched an investigation into Reeves for improper registration of donations and other support…
Paragraph 14, of course, reads:
“Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. They shall always be open and frank in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its Committees, and in any communications with Ministers, Members, public officials or public office holders.”
Back in March 2021 Reeves was out and about suggesting the government’s delay in publishing the ministers’ register of interests was over potential “conflicts of interests”. Over to Kathryn Stone…
“His own mishconduct, Mr Speaker, is absolutely clear to everybody…”