Politics

Tory MP should be suspended for failing to declare paid work and threatening commissioner, Standards Committee recommends

A Tory MP should be suspended from the Commons for failing to declare outside paid work – then threatening to not hand the standards commissioner a peerage if she ruled against him, the Standards Committee has recommended

Andrew Bridgen should be suspended for five sitting days, the parliamentary committee that oversees the work of the standards commissioner said.

The committee found the MP had breached the Code of Conduct by making multiple approaches to ministers and public officials on behalf of Mere Plantations, a teak reforestation company based in Ghana for which he was initially being paid £12,000 a year as an adviser.

He also failed to register his interest in the company in the time frame stipulated by the code.

The committee also found Mr Bridgen had attempted to improperly influence the Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone during her investigation.

He emailed the Commissioner shortly after the investigation started and implied she could lose a potential peerage if she did not come to the “right” outcome.

The MP wrote to Ms Stone: “I was distressed to hear on a number of occasions an unsubstantiated rumour that your contract as Parliamentary Standards Commissioner is due to end in the coming months and that there are advanced plans to offer you a peerage, potentially as soon as the prime minister’s resignation honours list.

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“There is also some suggestion amongst colleagues that those plans are dependent upon arriving at the ‘right’ outcomes when conducting parliamentary standards investigation.

“I do apologise if you find the contents of this letter offensive, it is certainly not my intention, but I would be grateful if you would provide me reassurance that you are not about to be offered an honour or peerage and that the rumours are indeed malicious and baseless.”

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