Tory MP Andrew Bridgen should be suspended from Commons over rule breach, Standards Committee says

Andrew Bridgen should be suspended for five sitting days, the Standards Committee has recommended

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Tory MP Andrew Bridgen faces a Commons suspension after being found to have displayed a “very cavalier” attitude to the rules in a series of lobbying breaches.

The Standards Committee advised a suspension of five sitting days for offences including an “unacceptable attack upon the integrity” of standards commissioner Kathryn Stone.

He called Ms Stone’s integrity into question on wholly unsubstantiated and false allegations and attempted to improperly influence the process, the cross-party committee said.

“Mr Bridgen has demonstrated a very cavalier attitude to the House’s rules on registration and declaration of interests, including repeatedly saying that he did not check his own entry in the register,” their report read.

Andrew Bridgen
Andrew Bridgen

The MP for North West Leicestershire since 2010 was recommended for suspension for two days for three breaches of the MPs’ code of conduct, including by failing to declare a relevant interest in emails to ministers.

He faces a suspension of a further three days for the “attack” on Ms Stone.

The committee said Mr Bridgen should have told ministers and officials he received a donation and a funded visit to Ghana from the Cheshire-based firm Mere Plantations and had a £12,000 contract to be an adviser.

But he was found to have committed a “significant litany of errors” by failing to do so in eight emails to ministers, and in five meetings with ministers or public officials.

Mr Bridgen said he is “extremely disappointed” with the recommendations but said he accepts the findings, ahead of MPs voting on whether his suspension should be upheld.

The committee said he called Ms Stone’s “integrity into question” on the basis of “wholly unsubstantiated and false allegations, and attempted improperly to influence the House’s standards processes”.

Mr Bridgen questioned whether his reputation as an outspoken critic of then-prime minister Boris Johnson could have influenced her findings.

The MP wrote an email to Ms Stone saying: “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.

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

“Clearly my own travails with Number 10 and the former PM have been well documented and obviously a small part of me is naturally concerned to hear such rumours.

“More importantly however you are rightfully renowned for your integrity and decency and no doubt such rumours are only designed to harm your reputation.”

The Standards Committee said Mr Bridgen’s email “appears to be an attempt to place wholly inappropriate pressure on the commissioner” which is “completely unacceptable behaviour”.

In a statement, Mr Bridgen said: “Whilst I am extremely disappointed with the recommendations of the committee, I accept them and will comply with them as required to do so.”