UK

MPs in sleaze probes will be named and shamed, says House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg

MPs in sleaze probes will be named and shamed amid rising concerns over a lack of transparency, pledges House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg pledges to reverse controversial ruling on MP investigations
  • MPs have anonymity when being investigated by Parliament’s sleaze watchdog 
  • But MPs reported for sexual harassment and bullying to still remain anonymous

MPs in sleaze probes will be named and shamed amid rising concerns over a lack of transparency, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons, has pledged to reverse a controversial ruling – criticised as a ‘step backwards for transparency’ – that gave all MPs, including expenses cheats, anonymity when being investigated by Parliament’s sleaze watchdog.

The measure was introduced in 2018 off the back of the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, which sought to protect victims of sexual harassment.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons, has pledged to reverse the controversial ruling

However the anonymity rule has been used to protect MPs under investigation for all alleged misdemeanours, including Keith Vaz, Laura Pidcock, and Conor Burns.

Mr Burns was forced to quit as a Minister when it was made public in May that he broke the rules by threatening a businessman over a financial dispute with his father.

Mr Vaz was found to have damaged the reputation of Parliament by offering to buy cocaine for two male prostitutes, while Ms Pidcock used Commons stationery for political campaigning.

From 2010, the details of all MPs under inquiry, as well as rulings, were automatically published.

Keith Vaz was found to have damaged the reputation of Parliament by offering to buy cocaine for two male prostitutes

Keith Vaz was found to have damaged the reputation of Parliament by offering to buy cocaine for two male prostitutes

But in 2018, less than two hours after the anonymity rule came into force, all details of MPs being probed over misconduct were deleted from Parliament’s website.

Complainants who refer MPs to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards have been gagged and banned from answering questions about alleged misconduct.

MPs including Sir Bob Neill have used the anonymity ruling to decline to answer questions about their outside interests.

Sir Bob breached Commons rules by failing to declare a financial interest while lobbying for planning applications for a football stadium and hotel in his Bromley and Chislehurst constituency, The Mail on Sunday revealed in September.

The Commons Committee on Standards has raised concerns about the confidentiality for MPs under investigation. 

In a report this summer, it recommended that Commissioner Kathryn Stone should be given the power to publish which MPs she was investigating in cases not involving sexual harassment or bullying, and to be allowed to confirm or deny whether such investigations were ongoing.

Last week, Mr Rees-Mogg confirmed in response to a Parliamentary question that the Government would bring forward a motion to implement its recommendations. 

MPs reported for sexual harassment and bullying will remain anonymous to protect victims.

Meanwhile, MPs have raised fears that the system – designed to protect sexual harassment victims – is not working properly.

Former Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom, who spearheaded setting up the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme after the ‘Pestminster’ scandal, told this newspaper: ‘I’m really concerned about the time it’s taking for a complaint to get to fruition. Justice delayed is justice denied.’

She wants staff who leave Parliament to have exit interviews so they can voice concerns in confidence. A review of the system is expected to be completed early next year.

The Commissioner for Standards did not respond to requests for comment last night.

Advertisement


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button