Commons Panel Rejects Bridgen’s Appeal

The Commons’ Independent Expert Panel has today dismissed an appeal by Andrew Bridgen against a decision by the Commons’ sleaze committee that he broke the code of conduct. Bridgen contested that the sanction imposed on him was “unreasonable or disproportionate”. The IEP, chaired by a retired appeal judge, dismissed the appeal on all grounds…

Bridgen also claimed the Commissioner’s investigation was flawed:

“his criticism is that the Commissioner failed to reflect the suggestion that the complaint against the Appellant was by a journalist who was politically or professionally motivated; failed to investigate properly whether his lobbying was permissible constituency business; and failed to take that factor into account in her recommendations to the Committee. She also failed to reflect the fact that, despite his contract with Mere Plantations Limited to provide services for a monthly fee of £1,000, he had not invoiced them and had received no money from them. He further sought to criticise the Commissioner on the ground that another Member had lobbied in circumstances where that Member owed a relevant debt, but that matter was resolved speedily and without referral to the Committee.”

The IEP replied in their report that “the journalistic or political motives behind any complaint are completely irrelevant.”

Rather than reducing the sentence, the panel notes that in fact the sanctions for breach of the rule against paid advocacy “could properly and fairly have been more severe”. Not the outcome he was hoping for…

mdi-timer 20 December 2022 @ 11:13 20 Dec 2022 @ 11:13 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Standards Committee Recommends Bridgen be Suspended for Five Sitting Days

The Commons Committee on Standards has recommended Tory MP Andrew Bridgen be suspended for five sitting days, and be forced to apologise to the Commons over multiple breaches of the MP Code of Conduct, including on registering outside earning and paid advocacy. They also describe an email he sent to the Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone as “completely unacceptable behaviour” as he ‘sought assurance’ about a rumour that Stone was shortly to be ennobled provided she arrived “at the ‘right’ outcomes when conducting parliamentary standards investigation[s]”.

The full list of aggravating factors are as follows:

  • Mr Bridgen breached the rules of the House on registration, declaration and paid lobbying on multiple occasions and in multiple ways. (The Committee noted that each of these breaches could have led it to recommend a suspension from the service of the House);
  • Mr Bridgen has demonstrated a very cavalier attitude to the rules on registration and declaration of interests, including repeatedly saying that he did not check his own entry in the register;
  • Mr Bridgen is an established Member of the House, having been elected in 2010;
  • Mr Bridgen’s email to the Commissioner called her integrity into question on the basis of wholly unsubstantiated and false allegations, and attempted improperly to influence the House’s standards processes.

While there were some mitigating factors, such as seeking alternative means of funding for a trip to Ghana before accepting funding from Mere Plantations, and reflecting on his conduct before the committee, they still recommended a suspension of five sitting days.

“The Committee recommended that Mr Bridgen is suspended from the service of the House for a total period of 5 sitting days. This is the sum of a recommended suspension of 2 sitting days for the breaches of Paragraph 12 and 14 of the Code of Conduct, and a further 3 sitting days’ suspension for a “completely unacceptable attack upon the integrity of the Commissioner” – amounting to a breach of paragraph 20 of the Code.

The Committee also recommended that Mr Bridgen should apologise to the House and to the Commissioner by means of a personal statement.”

For Andrew’s clarification, no you cannot submit a letter of no confidence in the Standards Committee…

mdi-timer 3 November 2022 @ 09:07 3 Nov 2022 @ 09:07 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Bercow Goes Full Trump as Standards Panel Finds Him Guilty of Bullying

John Bercow has flown off the Richter scale after the Commons’ Independent Expert Panel found him guilty of bullying, in a damning report published just now. The Mail was the first to report that today would be D-Day for the former Speaker, and Bercow clearly tried getting on the front foot with his press team sending a pre-emptive spin email to Guido an hour ago accusing the process of being a “travesty of justice rooted in spite and hearsay”. Other choice phrases from Bercow include: shambolic, disgrace, cowardly, blatant stich up and beneath contempt.”

John was keen to set the record straight among reports the bullying investigation would recommend he be banned from the parliamentary estate. This is not the case, however, as Bercow stresses:

“At the end of it, the panel has simply said that I should be denied a parliamentary pass which I have never applied for and do not want. That is the absurdity of its position… Don’t fall for the Establishment spin that I have been banned for life. I can still attend debates with the help of a friendly passholder or go as a member of the public.”

The report states that, “had he still been a Member of Parliament, we would have determined that he should be expelled by resolution of the House. As it is, we recommend that he should never be permitted a pass to the Parliamentary estate.”

It’s thought Kathryn Stone has found him guilty of 21 counts of bullying against three members of staff, as per the Mail and Sunday Times

The report is completely damning, calling Bercow a “serial bully” who “repeatedly and extensively” bullied staff. It calls him a “serial bully” and a “serial liar”. Read the report in full yourself below:

Read More

mdi-timer 8 March 2022 @ 11:04 8 Mar 2022 @ 11:04 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Kawczynski Forced to Apologise Again for Undermining Original Bullying Apology

The Commons Standards Committee has recommended a day’s suspension (excluding sitting Fridays) for Daniel Kawczynski. The move comes after he was hauled over the coals by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme for bullying and harassment and told to give an apology to the house. Kawczynski managed to undermine his apology, however, by giving an interview beforehand. During the interview with his local BBC radio branch, Kawczynski had identified both the name of the committee the complainant had worked on, and their job titles. “Mr Kawczynski had begun the interview by saying “I was on the [redacted: select committee identified]”, and had used the job titles of the complainants nine times during the interview.”

As a result of the interview, the Commissioner found:

  • Kawczynski had failed to comply with the requirements of confidentiality established by the IEP in its guidance and in specific instructions given to him.
  • His actions will have a detrimental affect [sic] not only on those who may be considering making a complaint [under the ICGS] but also those who have been through the system or are currently going through it.
  • He has undermined the ICGS through the numerous statements he made to the media on the 14 June 2021.
  • In undermining his apology Mr Kawczynski has in effect failed to comply with the sanction imposed by the IEP.
  • His actions have caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole.

Referred to the Standards Committee, they have found the Shrewsbury MP should be “suspended from the service of the House for one sitting day” and specify it shouldn’t be a sitting Friday. He’ll also have to make another apology to the house; BBC Radio Shropshire, prepare your interviewer…

mdi-timer 13 January 2022 @ 09:28 13 Jan 2022 @ 09:28 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
Tories’ Post-Paterson Poll Plummet

For those claiming the Paterson row wouldn’t cut through with the public, look away now: the first poll to be conducted after the fiasco is out and the Tories have crashed to a 1% lead. The 2.5% swing sees Labour up two points to 35% and the Tories down three to 36%, the smallest Tory lead for The Times since Rishi’s social care tax rise in September. 22% of 2019 Tory voters are now undecided about who to vote for…

The dust is still settling on the explosive affair, with outlets following up Guido’s first report yesterday of mass outrage directed at the Chief Whip. Last night Downing Street said they were standing by Mark Spencer, which is a more likely sign than any that the death knell tolls for his job. Meanwhile The Times reports Boris resorted to asking SpAds last night how he had been put in this position. A PM should not have to ask that question…

mdi-timer 5 November 2021 @ 08:52 5 Nov 2021 @ 08:52 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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