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Four Tory MPs cleared of breaching lockdown rules by standards watchdog

27 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie speaking in the House of Commons

Four Conservative MPs accused of attending a birthday drinks event in breach of lockdown rules have been cleared of wrongdoing by the Commons standards watchdog.

Complaints against Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing and Tory backbenchers Sir Bernard Jenkin, Miriam Cates and Virginia Crosbie, the MP for Ynys Môn, were not upheld by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Daniel Greenberg.

All four were alleged to have attended a gathering in Parliament on December 8 2020.

In a report, the commissioner said Sir Bernard, Ms Cates and Ms Crosbie did attend the event, while Dame Eleanor only briefly entered the room to check that social distancing arrangements were being observed.

But Mr Greenberg concluded they did not behave in a way that could seriously damage the reputation of the House or MPs generally, and therefore did not breach rules for MPs.

Restrictions

He said: “Had this been entirely a business meeting, it would have been clearly in accordance with all restrictions and would have been reputationally unobjectionable.

“Had it been entirely social, it would have been clearly in disregard of the restrictions at the time.

“On the basis of the evidence, I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the event included both business and social elements.”

Mr Greenberg added: “I do not have evidence to justify a finding of breach of the Code of Conduct.”

At the time, London was in Tier 2 Covid measures which restricted indoor socialising, although gatherings that were “reasonably necessary for work purposes” were permitted.

Hypocrisy

Boris Johnson accused Harwich and North Essex MP Sir Bernard of “monstrous hypocrisy” for allegedly attending the event before sitting on the cross-party Commons Privileges Committee which found that the former prime minister had lied to MPs with his partygate denials.

The Metropolitan Police said in December that they were ending their investigation into the gathering, with no individuals receiving a penalty.

The force said officers “assessed the available information and concluded it did not meet the threshold for the referral of any fixed penalty notices” and that there would be no further action.

The standards commissioner’s report said Sir Bernard’s then-wife, peer Baroness Jenkin, sent an invitation to “birthday drinks” by WhatsApp to seven people, although it turned out to be a “hybrid” event held as part of a series of meetings organised by the Women2Win network of female Tory MPs.

“Wine (probably not exceeding two bottles) and ‘nibbles’ were available at the event,” the commissioner said, while noting these was no birthday cake as some reports had suggested.

Dame Eleanor gave permission for the gathering to be held in her conference room on the assumption it was a Women2Win business meeting, according to the report.


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Jeff
Jeff
23 days ago

Be interesting to see how many were fined for less.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
23 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

Yes, and they must have their money back immediately.

Jeff
Jeff
23 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Remembering that the rozzers didn’t get involved in No10 until Good Law Project threatened them with legal action. Then they saw 120+ fines at that venue. How many more would have been done. One got a lordship that should have been done.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
23 days ago

Virginia Crosbie apologised for (admitted to) attending this pre arranged joint birthday drinks event knowingly organised in direct contravention of lockdown rules. That’s what the Ynys Mon voters will remember, not the fact she has been let off by the Parliamentary (no) Standards (toothless) Watchdog. He faced no further action either but Keir Starmer endured a vicious hate trial by Tory media for sitting quietly munching a curry. Westminster reputation, integrity and credibility crumbling into the poo strewn Thames.

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