Standards at Westminster

I understand the interest in the various stories about actual and alleged misconduct by MPs at Westminster. I have no intention of writing about them and will  not  be publishing any comments about individual cases. I do not know the rights and wrongs of individual cases and have no wish to get in the way of any enquiry or legal process.

If criminal wrongdoing has taken place it must be prosecuted. If an MP has behaved unprofessionally but not criminally then there needs to be an apology and some recognition of the error. If an MP is falsely accused they deserve a fair and independent process to clear their name.

The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition are working together to produce a new procedure for anyone working at Westminster to pursue a complaint about another MP or staff member. This needs to be done with due process  in a way which ensures it will be properly examined independently, with judgement and arbitration as needed. Staff members need protecting against any predatory MP, and MPs need to be able to dismiss any  false allegations in a timely and convincing way.



  1. Denis Cooper
    November 6, 2017

    I’m glad you’re taking this position, JR, as I’m sick of hearing about it all the time.

    On another matter, please could you tell your IT man that I am not a robot. I wasn’t a robot all those years ago when I started commenting on your blog, I am not a robot now, and I have no intention of transforming myself into a robot. My name is the same as it has always been, my email address is also the same and as far as I know my IP address is also the same, so could your system not be trained to say “Oh, yes, I recognise this one”?

    1. rose
      November 6, 2017

      I find the system is apparently doing this now as it lets me through almost straight away.

      1. Hope
        November 7, 2017

        We read that Elizabeth Flikin was an able person who took her responsibilities properly. Unfortunately you lot forced her out. Why did the party leaders not support her to raise standards?

        Then we read a friend of politicos put in charge of IPSA.

      2. Denis Cooper
        November 7, 2017

        So why you and not me? It’s sometimes taking me more keystrokes to get through the Captcha test than write up the comment … incidentally there’s a U-tube video entitled “Robot beats “I am not a Robot” Captcha”.

        1. miami.mode
          November 7, 2017

          Denis, there seem to be a few articles on the web about how you can get straight through and basically it is down to your Google history and your individual use of a mouse on a PC (smartphones and tablets are excepted).

          Therefore it may be your frequent (very useful) use of links or perhaps even your mouse racing across the screen when you get exasperated about David Davis’s department or at the constant inanities from the Remoaners that JR allows.

          1. Denis Cooper
            November 8, 2017

            Thanks for that, I’ll look into it.

    2. Richard
      November 7, 2017

      I could not care less about this subject which has been going on for many years now. The “stupid public” knew that but NOBODY gives us any recognition.

      JR – Just make sure your esteemed leader Theresa May (not mine) gives us BREXIT without sellingUS out to the despicable EU. I have never had faith in her ability and even less now.

  2. Iain Gill
    November 6, 2017

    For the rest of us false accusations can take a very long time to clear up. They can destroy peoples lifes.

    I hope MP’s get no more or less favourable treatment than everyone else.

    1. Realpolitik
      November 8, 2017

      In politics, character assassination , deliberate, is common. Wherever there is power and money there are lures. Yes I used to watch Dallas with JR Ewing…bribery, corruption, honey traps, digging up dirt on someone, owning certain Senators Also fictional scenarios for some light relief from reality

  3. margaret
    November 6, 2017

    I agree , however the same sort of rigorous investigations should take place in all communities. What is the correct behaviour for one should be universally accepted in the UK culture. I agree police have a hard job sorting fantasy from reality , but the victims should not suffer due to those who vengefully make things up.

    1. stred
      November 6, 2017

      You are out of date Margaret. The CPS, under Mr Starmer decided that the victim is the accuser and the presumption must be that police accept their statement. Mrs Saunders, the new CP CPS commissar, has carried this sort of justice forward with rules about hate crimes being recorded as true if anyone perceives the crime, whether they were there or not and this includes’unfriendliness’. So be careful not to be unfriendly or critical of the CPS or anyone who is making a mockery of justice.

      1. margaret
        November 8, 2017

        tell me about it !

  4. eeyore
    November 6, 2017

    What business is it of Prime Ministers or party leaders? What business, indeed, of government? Is not regulation of Members a privilege of the House? Why is Speaker Bercow not doing his duty?

    1. Iain Gill
      November 6, 2017

      really the police should be dealing “without fear or favour”

      dont think rank or role in public life, or the public sector, should have much to do with the more serious allegations

      as for the trivia (and most of us know the difference) people need thicker skins

      but I agree false accusations can be a serious issue for anyone, I would just prefer this was dealt with equally for everyone and politicians are not given special treatment, stuff where there is a strong possibility the allegations are nonsense need to be treated differently and with sensitivity for everyone not just MP’s

      1. Miss Brandreth-Jones
        November 7, 2017

        Should is ethics , but without fear or favour depends upon who is doing the abusing and how much; believe it or not; ‘written evidence! ‘ Primary evidence can only be gained in the most severe cases.

        I could tell so many stories about the lack of justice in this area , but John wouldn’t publish it due to lack of written evidence that he could not corroborate.

  5. alan jutson
    November 6, 2017

    John agree absolutely with your comments, but can we please not set the bar too low, and use some simple common sense about what is regarded as a sensible level of so called offence.

    Serious offences as you suggest should be reported to the Police, but some of the complaints which have been so called alleged in the media after years have gone by, are mind blowingly trivial, and if we are not careful we will be killing off any sensible and meaningful dialogue between otherwise normal people, and ordinary communication will then be impossible, because people are frighted about causing offence.

    The workplace has always been a home for mild banter between colleagues, its a natural part of our Native make up, lets not lose that spirit on the alter of Political correctness for goodness sake.

  6. Dennis Zoff
    November 6, 2017

    It’s nice to see Government individuals must also live within the same legal system as we lowly commoners….but it is still a long way from them fully abiding by common law!

  7. leavewon
    November 6, 2017

    General public, ie me, don’t give a jot about excitable, ugly people going power mad.
    It’s an administratively simple thing to set up a proper external complaints procedure.
    The general public care about extracting UK from EU
    ( we’re not that bothered how much you pay them either. Have a whip round.)
    Just get us out.

  8. Mark Riley
    November 6, 2017

    hysteria being hijacked by the feminist left, plus great chance to innoculate from possible demotion due to under-performance (Rudd, Leadsom).
    I really hate the fact that the Conservatives have given up the fight for the language as a minimum; victims not complainants, ‘allegants’ or similar which abide with innocent until proven guilty, actually spoken by the PM.
    according to Jess Phillips we should just take the ‘victims’ allegations on trust; in which case can I say that(a named MP ed) sexually assaulted me at the last constituency surgery – obviously complete nonsense……….. but under her rules must be believed subject to investigation!

  9. leavewon
    November 6, 2017

    Incidentally, it quite put me off trying to assemble my new lawnmower reading that HPC thing.

  10. rose
    November 6, 2017

    All I ask is that we go back to hearing both sides of the case and assuming innocence until guilt is proved.

  11. Mike Wilson
    November 6, 2017

    Talking about standards at Westminster, I read on the BBC web site in a quote from Len McCluskey …

    “The prime minister’s refusal this morning to commit to introducing a public register of who owns offshore companies and trusts in British tax havens or to opening a public inquiry into tax avoidance is to be strongly deplored.

    Is this right? Has May refused to introduce a register of who owns offshore companies and to actually, at last, finally, to clamp down on tax avoidance by the mega rich?

    If it is right, why are the Tories treating us all with such contempt. I have to pay every penny of tax on the due date. I can’t avoid tax. Why do seem to do nothing about the mega rich doing it?

    And on the corporate front. It ought to be very easy – if it is earned here, tax is paid here before remitting profits abroad to pay ‘licensing fees’ etc.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      November 6, 2017

      Consumption taxes not income taxes are the way forward. I am a little peeved that as a PAYE serf I do not get to choose how much income I declare for tax purposes like many others.

      Land value tax can be considered a consumption tax.

    2. rose
      November 6, 2017

      Are you suggesting it is wrong to invest abroad – because that is what “offshore” means ? And does that mean it is wrong for people abroad to invest here? If Mc Donnell and co have their way, we will be back to the seventies, unable to take more than £50 abroad, and no-one wanting to bring money in. I thought Mrs T and Geoffrey Howe won that argument in the following decade.

      People don’t just invest abroad to save tax. Sometimes they might; other times they might just want to make an investment abroad, for all sorts of reasons – economic, idealistic, etc. When they do this, they will want the paperwork etc done in a specialist environment so nothing can go wrong. This may be in a different country formm the one invested in. Do you want the Third World deprived of investment?

      The Left will always twist the truth and let their bitter envy run riot. People shouldn’t be taken in and encouraged to bankrupt the country.

      As for the Queen, isn’t she even allowed to invest in her own territories, where she is the Head of State? And why should she pay tax at all? It is a nonsense, the Crown paying tax to itself, even if it is voluntary.

    3. Edward2
      November 6, 2017

      The rules of the Single Market allow big companies to decide one EU state for accounting purposes and of course many choose the lowest tax regime nations of the EU .
      However we are talking about corporation tax not tax in general.

    4. David Price
      November 7, 2017

      Are you and McCluskey saying I should be on a public register if my private or company pension or ISA contains LSE quoted funds and investment trusts that are actually offshore, eg Jersey or Guernsey?

      Offshore funds are not a rare investment, Peter Bone MP pointed out in the house that the Labour HQ building is owned by an offshore fund.

      If you have a private or company pension or ISA you are avoiding tax. Avoidance is the legal application of tax laws. However, evasion is the breaking of tax laws and is illegal. Learn the difference.

    5. libertarian
      November 7, 2017

      Dear Mike Wilson

      Drivel, you personally have been avoiding tax for years. You should really pay it back if you feel that strongly

  12. Anonymous
    November 6, 2017

    I cannot believe that this is happening at such an important juncture in our national history.

    This country seems incapable and very sensitive.

    In the meantime Russia and China are putting together some very tough looking armies.

    1. John
      November 6, 2017


      Are you British ? I’m suspecting not.

      I could explain but, oh! you wouldn’t get it unless you are British.

  13. Nig l
    November 6, 2017

    You have a parliamentary commissioner of standards and I seem to recall one, probably all, was hounded unmercifully by MPs who have been similarly trashing IPSA. It just shows an ongoing culture of being above the accepted norms of behaviour and accountability so this sudden rush, by people who would have known and ignored for years what was going on and even promoted some, is nothing more than crocodile tears shed to protect their political backsides.

    If not why wasn’t it done umpteen years ago in line with the country outside Westminster?

  14. Mick Anderson
    November 6, 2017

    If Mrs May really wants to clean up Parliament she should push through a proper Right of Recall.

    By all means delay any resulting by-elections until a suitably brief enquiry has been held, days not months, and obviously not required for those who don’t contest the accusations. Any charges brought by the Police should result in a by-election so that the member in question can concentrate on clearing their name without the distraction of Parliamentary duties.

    Those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear

  15. Hope
    November 6, 2017

    Are you being serious? The rest of he country has been implementing Equality babble you lot have trotted out for years and now you, and your respective parties, are writing that procedures will be put in place. We were promised real reform in 2009 when the fog of criminal and discipline issues were being committed and covered up. May was tasked with the establishment cover up of child abuse, are you saying that despite this you lot have done nothing in the interim! Westminster is a den of corruption where institutionalised criminal behaviour is being hidden through power of position. Why should the public believe this is an different from the many past false promises?

    McDonnel and co being holier than though over offshore tax havens, read Guido to see the hypocrites in the Labour Party and even where the rent for their HQ goes! This is the credibility problem with you lot.

  16. Bob
    November 6, 2017

    Another Brexiter is under investigation (over a trip to Israel).
    This is beginning to look like a vendetta.

    1. Jocelyne Perks
      November 6, 2017

      It is a vendetta!

    2. Rien Huizer
      November 7, 2017

      Mrs Patel should have given at least notice to the Foreign Office and the PM that she was embarking on a quasi state visit with an agenda possibly at odds with established UK foreign policy. Why on earth did she not do this? This is far worse than what got Fallon sacked

  17. Dame Rita Webb
    November 6, 2017

    Staff members need to be recruited from the ranks of the permanent civil service and not from the ranks of an MPs mates or family members etc. In that way the staffers get the full protection of working for a big employer and the voters stop seeing politicians using these jobs as a way of inflating their families incomes for example.

    1. Iain Gill
      November 6, 2017

      No the permanent civil service is teacle and nothing would ever get done.

  18. ian wragg
    November 6, 2017

    I am still of the belief that this has come about as an orchestrated attempt to derail Brexit.
    That silly Rudd woman was saying people should be expelled from parliament even if it costs you your majority.
    There has and always will be tensions between the sexes in any environment and politicians are no exception.
    I’m sure many men have been the but of unwanted attention from the ladies but of course we are not allowed a voice.
    Grow up the lot of you.

    1. Dame Rita Webb
      November 6, 2017

      I disagree I think it is a symptom of so many MPs now never having a had a proper job. If they had worked in a big organisation they would know that if you abuse your expenses account you put your job at risk. Similarly if you mistreat anybody with a serial intent there is a high chance of a P45. The Scots, Welsh and Ulster parliaments are full much similar malfeasance so it’s unlikely to be an attempt to nobble brexit

      1. Mitchel
        November 7, 2017

        That’s my view too.

        1. Hope
          November 9, 2017

          Dame Rita, the assemblies will not bring down a govt to thwart Brexit. Bringing down the govt will.

          We have former ministers openly suggesting subversion against the will of the govt and its people. Over in Spain they are being arrested for sedition. May ought to explore every possibility to get them arrested. Why she is entertaining them speaking and interfering with the negotiator of the Eau is beyond belief.

  19. Lifelogic
    November 6, 2017

    If something criminal is alleged then it is a matter for the police (and victims should report it straight away and not many years later). I am not really that bothered about the more trivial allegations. The victim should get the person to get lost, leave and perhaps claim damages.

    The government should concentrate on the many far, far important matters. The dire unworkable and rationed by delay NHS (for example). It is killing many people through delay, rationing and poor treatments. All is sadly rather clear from looking at the statistics.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 6, 2017

      The victim should “tell” the person to get lost and leave – I meant.

      1. Nice man
        November 6, 2017

        Many women in this country, many, to Remoaners that means alot of women, respond negatively to a male throwing his cape over a rain puddle so her lady ship may walk over it. There are too many goodly and fine men in our country who have numerous ongoing sodden coats and have cooked for one for decades.

  20. Rien Huizer
    November 6, 2017

    A ridiculous witch hunt. Where are the liberties of the 70s? Must be the result of EU membership. Not so long ago noblemen (the politicians of the past) had interesting rights. Where did they go? Blame the EU.

    1. Edward2
      November 6, 2017

      But no one does.

  21. stred
    November 6, 2017

    I felt sorry for some of the Remain ministers who seem to have made errors years ago or may be innocent of behaviour which would be considered normal in other countries. But these have not been thrown out of the Conservative party. The whip who took over from the one that took the vacant minister’s job has a website with the EU flag on it. He has withdrawn the whip, presumably with May’s agreement, from a Brexiteer MP, without telling him about the accusation or hearing his side of any story and then reported him to the police. This is after the complainant did not want to follow through some time ago. Another whip has resigned after embarrassing incidents with straight colleagues who told him where to get off. Some of the accusations against MPs are laughable.

    The behaviour of the whips office seems to be more questionable than anything else.

  22. Bert Young
    November 6, 2017

    It is impossible to comment about the cases that have been highlighted concerning the behaviour between men and women in the workplace . It seems to me that some have been blown out of all proportion and do not justify the publicity they have been given . Being in charge of an office nowadays must be a nightmare . The way some women attire themselves almost begs incitement from the opposite sex ; how can this be controlled by , so called , codes of conduct ?.

  23. treacle
    November 6, 2017

    There has been a hysterical over-reaction. Touching someone’s knee 15 years ago is not an assault. Asking someone to come home with you when your wife is away is not sex abuse. These clumsy indiscretions warrant an apology and no more. People are using these trivial instances of impoliteness as a means of destroying people’s careers, and it is not an edifying sight. Meanwhile Labour and the BBC continue to confuse tax avoidance with tax evasion. The Queen of Bermuda is criticised for keeping some of her money in Bermuda. What will it be tomorrow? I really despair.

    1. miami.mode
      November 7, 2017

      treacle. Whilst I would agree that some of these “assaults” seem rather clumsy and perhaps trivial, surely you must realise that if your 21 year old daughter had political ambitions and was fortunate to have some sort of employment with an MP and he came on to her heavily and was rebuffed, the consequence could well be that she loses her job, and possibly ambitions, but could also be labelled as unreliable, or useless, or whatever, within the Westminster club with a possible career in ruins. It’s not a comfortable position to be in.

      1. treacle
        November 7, 2017

        Perhaps not, miami.mode, but there are ways in which she could deal with it without making anonymous allegations about the man to the press and destroying his career. That is what is currently happening.

  24. Turboterrier.
    November 6, 2017

    President Trump has received the accolade for “fake News” out of all the members mentioned or suspected of “improper actions” who will be taking the credit for:

    “I’ve done nothing wrong”.

    Sadly this whole episode could well develop into a night of the long knives unless the leaders of all parties take full control of the situation, as in all these situations when mud starts flying some invariably will stick especially when the media turns the whole mess into a feeding frenzy.

  25. a-tracy
    November 6, 2017

    Who hires ‘the staff’? Do the individual MPs hire their own assistants or are the special advisors and other clerical staff hired by Parliament? Do they have party HR departments or one central hr department. Are they self-employed? Who pays the wages?

    I’ve just watched a program about none violent verbal abuse dished out by football fans in train carriages and I was struck by the fact that none of the men thought themselves racist or abusive until they were presented with the videoed evidence. They’d clearly been drinking, their bad behaviour was encouraged in the group but individually they were quite ashamed.

    Perhaps it’s time to close down the bars in your workplace immediately or replace all drinks with none alcoholic ones, there shouldn’t be boozing on duty, if you can’t drive a car whilst drinking then how are you capable of running a Country inebriated. I don’t know but perhaps MPs spend too much time away from their partners in long distance from London constituencies.

    Have women been gaining a promotional advantage by flirting and more with MPs? From the outside it just all seems seedy and undignified and as Holly said above harassment claims are something businesses have been dealing with through legislation for years so why haven’t our legislators?

    1. a-tracy
      November 7, 2017

      Hope not Holly sorry.

  26. Old Albion
    November 6, 2017

    The snowflake generation invade the home of democracy…………………………

  27. Chris
    November 6, 2017

    It is thanks to the EU that an individual is treated as guilty until proven innocent Corpus Juris (with all the accompanying damage and character assassination that entails) whereas our common law states that we are innocent until presumed guilty Habeas Corpus. Unfortunately, the EU approach now seems to be engrained. We were warned about this back in the last decade. Interesting to see hos this harmonisation of legal systems with the dreaded European Arrest Warrant has apparently developed with stealth over the years with not only Labour but successive Conservative led governments in full approval:

    Britain’s Unique Heritage of Law Threatened by an E.U. Police State
    A Napoleonic System of Repression Confirmed in Corpus Juris
    Michael A. Clark

    A grave threat now exists to the ancient liberties of the citizens of the United Kingdom. The whole foundation of the judicial law in the nation state is about to be overturned by a system based on dictatorship and oppression of the spirit.

    THE PLAN to impose a single criminal justice system throughout the European Union, including the United Kingdom, is advancing at a rapid pace. Under the system proposed by Brussels, known as Corpus Juris, Britain’s historic freedoms and liberties are to be ended in the name of a new “efficient” Europe. It is no exaggeration to say that if implemented the United Kingdom, without Habeas Corpus and trial by jury, would in all reality become a police state.

    On 23rd April, 2002, the House of Lords debated the report of the European Union Committee on the European Arrest Warrant. Lord Scott of Foscote, who moved the debate, said that “assuming all the member states have agreed to the proposal, the arrest warrant measures will become effective as from 1st January, 2004.” Under the process of harmonisation the offences of “racism and xenophobia” could, he said, include the “distribution of, for example, literature containing expressions of belief in race, colour, national origin and … would almost certainly cover the distribution of the Old Testament.”…..”

  28. libertarian
    November 7, 2017

    Politicians claim that cheap alcohol fuels anti social and lewd behaviour

    Politicians have passed many laws, regulations and initiatives about how we treat people in the workplace

    Politicians break every single one of those things. Its about time we drained the swamp. Sacked every single member of parliament and started again with a democratic system of accountability, recall and government

    Starting point ban the sale of alcohol on the Parliamentary estate

  29. Monza 71
    November 7, 2017

    Some of the comments we are told have been made by leading politicians to various women are at best crass and stupid. Similarly how can any supposedly intelligent MP think he should be propositioning a young woman possibly 40 years his junior ? One has to question whether the judgement of the purpetrator is really good enough for them to hold any kind of office, let alone a cabinet or shadow cabinet job.

    As for the “victims” in all this. Relationships often develop between those working closely together whether or not those involved are already married. It’s as natural as anything else in life.

    But if any person is propositioned by another, they should always respond in the way that they feel is appropriate for them. There should be no question of agreeing to a liason just because a job, unpaid or otherwise, could possibly be at risk.

    One either has moral standards or one does not. Can a minor position in Parliament ever be worth compromising one’s scruples ? Of course not. Like any employee, if there is something about your work you do not like, you find another job.

  30. Me
    November 7, 2017

    HM The Queen versus Corbyn

    Corbyn or at least a few of his jayhawker followers, do not understand that one or two of us, of which I am very much included, have not a care what HM The Queen does not pay in tax. Whatever She pays, is too much

  31. Epikouros
    November 7, 2017

    What is and what is not acceptable behaviour in today’s politically correct world has been distorted out of all recognition. Promiscuity and other immoral/corrupt conduct may be no greater or less than it has always been but it is no longer roundly castigated as it was in bygone times and is openly displayed. Now it depends on what political capital is being gained by covering it up or exposing it. We no longer have a moral compass which infuriates religious conservatives(hypocritically) but gladdens the heart of those able to exploit others for their own gratification and profit.

    It has always been possible to pick up any stone and find underneath unpleasant things. So the Mathew Hopkins amongst us and there are many are reaping great rewards. We may be seeing the beginning of a revolution to curb excesses and corrupt practices but I doubt it as revolutions too often are no better than that which they seek to destroy.

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