The House of Commons Committee on Standards has just issued a most interesting report, which “arises from a memorandum from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards dealing with the conduct of Nadine Dorries in respect of the registration of fees relating to her appearance in ‘I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!’ ... the Commissioner has found that those payments ought to have been registered”.
A limited company, Averbrook Ltd., has, it turns out, received all payments for Ms Dorries’ media work since October 2012, although she did not register her directorship with the Commons authorities until well into this year. On top of that, she made a number of accusations against those legitimately asking for information, including the accusation that they were conducting a “witch hunt”.
The conclusions, first up “The Code and Guide are not intended to be interpreted in a narrow legalistic way. Members need to measure their conduct against the Seven Principles of Public Life, which are part of the Code and include accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. The use of payments to a company to avoid declaration of earnings would be incompatible with these principles”. Ouch!
“It is clear that Ms Dorries’s media work was remunerated, whether or not those payments were made to her or to her company. We agree with the Commissioner that Ms Dorries should have registered payments for such media services even though those payments were made through Averbrook Ltd”. The other director of this company, as Unity at MoT has noted, is Andy Rayment, who owns Dorries’ house.
“The rules require Members to subject themselves to the Commissioner’s scrutiny. Accusations of the sort made by Ms Dorries are unacceptable. We agree with the Commissioner that Ms Dorries has committed a breach of the Code through her attitude to the Commissioner’s inquiries”. She shouldn’t have said “witch hunt”.
“It is unfortunate that the Registrar was not made aware that Averbrook Ltd was trading, and Ms Dorries’ shareholding should therefore have been registered, in a timely manner. We agree with the Commissioner’s finding that the failure to register the shareholding was a breach of the rules, but we do not consider it a serious breach”. So another rap across the knuckles.
“We recommend that Ms Dorries register all payments in respect of her employment, whether or not they have been channelled through Averbrook Ltd or any other third party and apologise to the House by way of a Personal Statement. We expect Ms Dorries to consult the Registrar in person about the detail of her Register entry within 21 days of publication of this Report. We will monitor Ms Dorries’s compliance and will recommend further action if necessary”. Double ouch!
The fragrant Ms D’s response to all of that will be a joy to behold. Naughty Nadine!