No problem here insists Starmer as standards watchdog opens investigation

13/06/2022

‘No problem here’ insists Starmer, as standards watchdog opens investigation

Sir Keir Starmer is under investigation for multiple failures to register gifts from football teams and book royalties worth thousands of pounds on time.

The Labour leader said he was “absolutely confident” he had not broken the MPs’ code of conduct despite the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner’s probe.

But Sir Keir apologised to watchdog Kathryn Stone “for the fact that administrative errors in his office have led to a small number of late declarations”, according to his spokesman.

A Labour source confirmed the investigation relates to delayed declarations of hospitality at football matches, book royalties and donations to staff from the Just Eat food delivery firm.

During a visit to Wakefield in West Yorkshire on Monday, the Labour leader insisted “there’s no problem here”.

He was speaking moments after it emerged that Ms Stone had launched an investigation on Wednesday into whether he broke the rules by failing to register financial interests within 28 days of receipt.

One strand of her investigation is looking at the registration interests from employment and earnings.

Sir Keir received an £18,450 advance from publisher HarperCollins in April for a book he is writing in which he is expected to set out his vision for Britain.

The sum, which he has pledged to donate to charitable causes, appeared to have been declared a day late, while royalties for two legal books published before the lawyer became an MP were also delayed.

A second area being looked at is a possible breach of the section concerning gifts, benefits and hospitality from UK sources.

Sir Keir received a directors’ box for two people at Crystal Palace worth £720, when they thrashed his club Arsenal 3-0 on April 4. It was not registered until May 5.

He received four tickets for Watford vs Arsenal, worth a total of £1,416, for their March 6 match. The gift was registered on May 6.

The register shows Just Eat gave tickets to staff for the Taste of London festival and the British Kebab awards.

The donations from the company exceeded the £300 limit for registration on October 29 but were not declared until December 23.

Sir Keir’s spokesman said “we are happy to provide” additional information that has been requested by Ms Stone.

“Keir Starmer takes his declaration responsibilities very seriously and has already apologised for the fact that administrative errors in his office have led to a small number of late declarations,” the spokesman said.

Allies have sought to portray the Labour leader as “Mr Rules” in contrast to Boris Johnson’s behaviour, but the investigation adds to Sir Keir’s challenges as he is investigated by Durham police over an alleged breach of Covid rules.

In 2019, the Prime Minister was reprimanded by the Commons Standards Committee for “an over-casual attitude towards obeying the rules of the House”.

Mr Johnson was found to have breached the rules by failing to declare within the time limit a 20% share of the ownership of a property in Somerset.

Four months earlier he had apologised to the House after an earlier report by Ms Stone found he was late registering financial interests on four previous occasions involving nine separate payments.

The MPs’ code states: “Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

“They shall always be open and frank in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its committees, and in any communications with ministers, members, public officials or public office holders.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub


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