Sir Malcolm Rifkind helped hire watchdog that cleared him over ‘cash-for-access’ claims

Sir Malcolm was part of a five-person panel which recommended the appointment of Kathryn Hudson to her £108,000 a-year position as the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

rifkind-straw_3445625bSome say Kathryn Hudson should have declared her links to Sir Malcolm Photo: Nick Edwards, Warren Alott

 

By , Claire Newell, Edward Malnick and John Bingham

Sir Malcolm Rifkind interviewed and helped to appoint the woman who wrote the official report which “cleared” him over a “cash-for-access” scandal, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

He was part of a five-person panel which recommended appointing Kathryn Hudson to the £108,000-a-year position of Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

MPs expressed surprise at what they described as a potential “conflict of interest” and said that Miss Hudson should have stood aside from the investigation into Sir Malcolm. One anti-sleaze campaigner said it illustrated how “Parliament regulating itself has run its course”.

Miss Hudson’s report this week cleared Sir Malcolm and Jack Straw of misconduct despite MPs on the Commons Committee on Standards expressing misgivings about the system which led to their exoneration.

The Daily Telegraph’s reports relating to Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind

Earlier this year, The Daily Telegraph and Channel Four’s Dispatches programme revealed that the two MPs offered to use their positions on behalf of a fictitious Chinese company in return for payments of at least £5,000 per day.

Jack Straw to take job for firm he lobbied for in Commons
• Sir Malcolm Rifkind to step down as MP

Miss Hudson found “there was no breach of the rules on paid lobbying” after being assured by Sir Malcolm and Mr Straw that they were speaking “off the cuff” and did not intend to back up their words with action.

Now it has emerged that in 2012 Sir Malcolm and his colleagues “recommended” Miss Hudson to the House of Commons Commission, which went on to appoint her. Two members of the Committee on Standards, which accepted Miss Hudson’s ruling, told the Telegraph that they were not made aware of her link to the former Conservative MP. There is no mention of it in her report.

Miss Hudson refused to comment on her links to Sir Malcolm, saying she “could not discuss individual cases”.

Sir Malcolm said he had not been “conscious” of interviewing her until reminded by the Telegraph. Asked whether he and she had discussed his involvement in the appointment process at the beginning of her inquiry, he said: “No. Neither of us mentioned it. In fact I wasn’t even aware of it because I wasn’t sure how long … I had forgotten the name of the person … that had been recommended at that time.”

Jack Straw

Miss Hudson’s report this week cleared Sir Malcolm and Jack Straw of misconduct

 

He added: “I didn’t even know if it was the same person. It wasn’t relevant to the very professional meeting that we had. She didn’t mention it. And until you rang me, I hadn’t even been conscious of the fact … simply because it wasn’t relevant.” It can also be disclosed that Miss Hudson’s report contains a series of omissions and disclosures which raise further questions about the investigation.

It has emerged that she was urged to speed up the investigation by Sir Malcolm and Mr Straw, telling colleagues they were “understandably anxious that I should complete my inquiry at the earliest opportunity”.

The disclosures raise further questions about a system that allows MPs to sit as judge and jury on each other’s conduct and will intensify calls for an independent body to rule on all standards issues. Professional regulators warned that Parliament’s standards committee risked being seen as “a club of MPs with vested interests” because its lay members have no power. New rules will mean that lay members make up half of the panel, but these will not take effect until next year.

 

According to a Commons report on Miss Hudson’s appointment, Sir Malcolm conducted her interview as part of a “selection board” including Sir Kevin Barron, the Labour MP who now chairs the standards committee. They are understood to have interviewed five candidates before putting two names forward.

The commission that finalised her appointment was made up of John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, Sir George Young, a former Tory Cabinet minister, Angela Eagle, a Labour shadow minister, Sir Paul Beresford, a Tory MP who now sits on the standards committee, and two former MPs.

Malcolm Rifkind

Sir Malcolm said he had not been “conscious” of interviewing Miss Hudson

Martin Bell, a former independent MP and anti-sleaze campaigner, said: “Parliament regulating itself has run its course. On the face of it there appears to have been a conflict of interest.”

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, said: “She [Miss Hudson] needs to give an explanation as to why she did not [stand aside from the investigation] because it doesn’t look good to the public.”

 

Past inquiries by the Commons standards committee

November 2013

Simon Hughes (Picture: PA)
Simon Hughes, the then deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, was found to have failed to register six donations to his local party from four companies or to declare an interest, despite having links with the donors. But the committee concluded there had been “no attempt to conceal the donations” to his local party and said he had simply not been “as attentive as he should have been to the rules of the House”. He was asked to apologise, given his seniority.
November 2013
Tim Yeo, the former environment minister and chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, was cleared of allegations, stemming from a Sunday Times investigation, that he offered to lobby ministers and “coach” a business associate who was due to give evidence to MPs. Instead the standards committee turned its fire on the reporters, accusing them of quoting selectively and “making efforts to lead Mr Yeo into behaving indiscreetly”. Mr Yeo has said that he did not break any rules.
November 2013

Nadine Dorries (Picture: Andrew Crowley)
Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP, was criticised for failing to register her fees for appearing on the reality television show “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” The money was paid to a company of which she was a director, instead of into her pocket. The committee concluded she should have declared the money but voiced “regret” that new rules which would have made this requirement “explicit” had not been in place.
April 2014
In December 2012, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that the then Culture Secretary Maria Miller had claimed more than £90,000 for a second home where her parents lived. Although the committee found that she had over-claimed mortgage expenses by £5,800, it did not uphold the key allegation – that she used public funds for her parents’ benefit – because she was already caring for them. But she was forced to apologise for her “attitude” to the inquiry.
May 2014

Patrick Mercer (Picture: Getty)
Patrick Mercer, the Tory former shadow minster, was suspended from the Commons for six months after a cash-for-questions scandal exposed by a Telegraph investigation. He tabled a series of questions on behalf of a fictitious group lobbying for Fiji to be readmitted to the after being paid £4,000 as part of a contract he believed would earn him £24,000 a year. The committee recommended he pay the money to charity but admitted “we have no powers in this matter”.
September 2014
The committee recommended no further action again Peter Bone, the MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, Northants, for expense claims he made while living temporarily in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, when first elected in 2005. Although it was against the rules at the time – as the house was neither in his constituency or Westminster – the committee decided he had been “new and inexperienced” and did not know this.
January 2015
Peter Lilley, the Tory MP, was accused of failing to declare his directorship in an oil firm during a debate on energy prices and climate change laws. He said the company only worked in central Asia and did not have interests in the UK and not therefore directly relevant.The committee decided the rules had not been clear at the time and that it would “not be fair” to find him in breach.
March 2015

Simon Danczuk (Paul Cousans/ZENPIX )
The committee examined a complaint that Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP, failed to register book earnings from the serialisation of his book “Smile for the Camera” on time. It found that although the payments were registered late, this was “not uncommon” and that about one in seven payouts to MPs for outside work were registered late. It was noted in the register.

Source:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

5 Responses to “Sir Malcolm Rifkind helped hire watchdog that cleared him over ‘cash-for-access’ claims”

  1. Lynn says:

    All in it together hey Cameron. That was the only honest thing that man has said. These two conniving criminals should be incarcerated. Channel 4 caught them red handed.the camera doesn’t lie. They hung themselves and confirmed what we already knew. Theiving cheating sly money grabbing liars. Just like all the rest. Nasty people.

  2. ian says:

    Wow, I’m really surprised that elected people like these would be conceited selfish greedy bastards, not.

  3. ferryt says:

    Troubles with this ‘story’.

    Rifkind is a top jew in the british establishment.

    Heading up the ‘security’ services.

    Cousin to Brittan. Allegedly a dead paedophile and former home secretary of course.

    The telegraph and jon snow / c4 news are ultimately controlled by the ‘security’ services.

    No way a ‘story’ like this without a kosher seal of approval.

    What are they up to?

  4. ferryt says:

    And we haven’t even touched on the other asset, jack straw.

    No way this isn’t a psy op or some such multi faceted fresh hell.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.