Conservative Home

« David Willetts MP: Train a child in the way he should go… | Main | Paul Greenall: From mistress to master - Our failed love affair with the car »

Theresa May MP: 100 sleaze allegations show that Brown must clean up government

Theresa_picture_0510307Theresa May is Shadow Commons leader.

Tomorrow, Sir Alistair Graham will stand down as Chairman of the Standards in Public Life Committee.  There’s nothing new in that; both of his predecessors have served only one term.  But this time, the difference is that no successor has been named – in the midst of the ‘cash for honours’ scandal, this Government has made clear its disdain for scrutiny, and left the Committee in a state of limbo.

But there’s no need to take my word for it.  Sir Alistair himself has been scathing in his criticism of Labour’s record in office.  Looking back at his time as Chairman of the Committee, he has said: “My greatest regret has been the apparent failure to persuade the Government to place high ethical standards at the heart of its thinking and, most importantly, behaviour … As a result, I believe, we have seen a loss of trust by the public in ministers and politicians as a class” (Committee on Standards in Public Life, Annual Report 2006, p.iii).

And looking back at this Government’s record, it’s easy to explain Sir Alistair’s frustration.  It’s not just ‘cash for honours’, but Peter Mandelson’s home loan, the Hinduja passport scandal, the ‘dodgy dossier’, the Bernie Ecclestone loan, Stephen Byers’ lies, John Prescott’s trips to America, and even the number of Gordon Brown’s special advisers.  I could go on. 

Of course it’s too late to expect Tony Blair to do anything about this.  But with a change of prime minister, we can perhaps expect a new approach.  As Sir Alistair has said, “a new government might start to create a more trusting atmosphere around politicians and the political process. One issue in particular, and on which I have made statements throughout my term, can set a new tone of seriousness about ethical standards – that is radical changes to the Ministerial Code of Conduct” (Committee on Standards in Public Life, Annual Report 2006, p.iii).

I agree.  For that reason, on Friday, I wrote to Gordon Brown, asking him to change the way that the Code should be monitored.  As things stand, when it comes to ruling on breaches of the Ministerial Code, the prime minister remains judge and jury of both his colleagues and himself.  That is an absurd situation, and I asked Gordon Brown, as the likely next prime minister, to commit to removing that responsibility from Number Ten and placing it in the hands of an independent body.

To make my case, I sent a dossier highlighting one hundred examples of accusations that Labour ministers – including both Mr Blair and Mr Brown – have contravened the Code.  I’m not suggesting that ministers were guilty in every single case, but the dossier provides stark evidence that the Ministerial Code needs to be monitored by an independent body, rather than the prime minister.

As I said in my letter to Gordon Brown, when he becomes prime minister, he will have a great opportunity to clean up British government.  I very much hope he takes it.

Labour and the Ministerial Code: 100 accusations

The date The minister The accusation
May 1997 Jack Cunningham Mr Cunningham was accused of breaking the Ministerial Code after he took his wife Maureen to the Netherlands, with the taxpayer picking up a bill of £457.60 for her visit. The Prime Minister admitted that the Code was open to “interpretation” (Daily Mail, 23 January 1998).
August 1997 John Prescott A special adviser to Mr Prescott was reported to own thousands of shares in a company which, it was alleged, could have benefited from the Government’s plans to set up Regional Development Agencies.  David Taylor was an unpaid adviser to Mr Prescott, concentrating on regeneration and regional issues. He owned 3000 shares and 300,000 share options as chief executive of Enterprise plc, a company which provides sites for development and which some said could benefit from Government cash once RDAs are set up (The Herald, 27 August 1997).
August 1997 Lord Simon Lord Simon of Highbury, the former chairman of BP who was then minister of trade, was forced to sell his shares in BP after being accused of breaking the Ministerial Code by retaining them (The Times, 14 August 1997).
October 1997 Doug Henderson Mr Henderson reportedly took his partner Geraldine Daly on a summit trip to Luxembourg at a cost to the public purse of £571. Mr Henderson said: “The situation is absolutely in line with procedures.”  Yet at the time, the Ministerial Code said a “spouse” could “occasionally” accompany the Minister on official duties “provided it is clearly in the public interest” (Daily Mail, 23 January 1998).
November 1997 Tony Blair Two House of Commons committees concluded that Mr Blair’s decision to exempt Formula One from the proposed tobacco advertising ban, after Bernie Ecclestone donated £1 million to the Labour Party, was wrong (Financial Times, 28 November 1997).
November 1997 Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell faced calls for her resignation after her husband’s links to a motor racing team were revealed. Ms Jowell was the minister involved in the Government’s u-turn over its policy on banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship in sport by exempting Formula One. Her husband, David Mills, was previously a non-executive director of Benetton Formula, a Formula One company. He remained a lawyer at the City firm Withers, remains a legal adviser to the company (The Scotsman, 7 November 1997).
December 1998 Geoffrey Robinson Mr Robinson was accused of a conflict of interest between his offshore financial interests and his duties as a Treasury minister (The Times, 18 December 1997).
January 1998 Margaret Beckett Mrs Beckett faced questions when it was revealed that her husband, Leo, had travelled with her on two trips, to Australia, India, China, Hong Kong and Pakistan, at a cost to the taxpayer of £12,600 (Yorkshire Post, 23 January 1998).
January 1998 Robin Cook Mr Cook faced accusations that he broke the Ministerial Code after it was reported that he took his mistress on a trip to Dublin at the taxpayers’ expense. He did not seek Tony Blair’s permission for the trip as he was obliged to do under the Code. It was originally claimed that the Prime Minister’s permission had not been sought because there was “no cost to the public purse”. But in fact, it was reported that Mrs Regan flew with Mr Cook in an RAF jet to the Irish Republic and did not reimburse the costs. Normally, when such flights are taken by civilians, they are expected to pay business class commercial rates (The Daily Mail, 23 January 1998).
January 1998 Geoffrey Robinson Mr Robinson faced accusations that he had broken the Ministerial Code after remaining a company director after becoming a minister. A News of the World investigation showed that he was listed at Companies House as a director of engineering firm Hollis Industries plc. The Ministerial Code says: “Ministers must resign any directorships they hold when they take office.” But while Mr Robinson quit 25 directorships on taking the Treasury job, he did not resign from Hollis (News of the World, 25 January 1998).
March 1998 Tony Blair Mr Blair came under pressure to explain a proposal for the Labour Party to use invitations to Downing Street to help its fundraising. A leaked paper, ‘Post-Election Strategy for High Value Donors’, was written by Amanda Delew, head of Labour’s high value fundraising unit. The paper said: “Major donors expect to be invited to No 10; if this cannot take place then income levels may be affected” (The Guardian, 30 March 1998).
Summer 1998 David Blunkett In 2005, the New Statesman reported that Mr Blunkett, as Education Secretary, had been so alarmed by reports that computer problems had led to children getting the wrong grades in 1998 that he asked an official in his office to make discreet inquiries about the fate of his own son, who was sitting exams that year. The official was apparently asked to contact the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), the Government’s exam watchdog (Mail on Sunday, 18 July 2005).
June 1998 Baroness Symons Baroness Symons, a junior foreign minister, was accused of misleading Parliament after she had been given a written briefing about a Customs investigation into Sandline International, the British company involved in the “Arms to Africa” controversy.  She then failed to inform peers about the investigation during a House of Lords debate about Sierra Leone on March 10. In another Lords debate about the affair, when the investigation was public knowledge, Baroness Symons also failed to say she had been told of it in early March (The Financial Times, 10 June 1998).
July 1998 Tony Blair One of Mr Blair’s leading policy advisers was accused of retaining links to a controversial lobbying company after he took up his Downing Street post. It was claimed that Roger Liddle failed to distance himself from Prima Europe, the lobbying company he helped set up, and that he appointed his next-door neighbour to sell his shares in the firm (The Scotsman, 10 July 1998)
July 1998 Lord Sainsbury When Lord Sainsbury was made a minister, he decided to retire from the Board of J Sainsbury, but faced accusations that he was still breaking the Ministerial Code by retaining shares in the company (The Guardian, 31 July 1998).
December 1998 Geoffrey Robinson A company in which Mr Robinson was involved was revealed to owe £500,000 in tax to the Inland Revenue, which raised concerns over the Paymaster-General’s role as a minister at the Treasury, the department in charge of the tax authorities (The Sunday Times, 6 December 1998).
December 1998 Geoffrey Robinson On 26 November 1998, the Conservatives wrote to Mr Mandelson to ask him to investigate Geoffrey Robinson’s conduct as a company director, under section 432 of the Companies Act 1985. In response to this request, Mr Mandelson launched a DTI investigation.  When the press disclosed that he had borrowed £373,000 from Mr Robinson, he was forced to resign because he had not disclosed the existence of the loan to his Permanent Secretary – even when his department began investigating Mr Robinson’s business affairs (The Times, 24 December 1998).
December 1998 Peter Mandelson
January 1999 Jack Cunningham Mr Cunningham faced charges that he had breached the Ministerial Code by failing to declare numerous stays at a plush manor house as a guest of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (Daily Mail, 23 January 1999).
January 1999 Jack Cunningham Mr Cunningham faced claims that he used private jets for seven journeys to Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Rotterdam and Bonn, even though there are several scheduled flights every day.  The flights cost taxpayers £6,560 each on average, compared to the regular business class return of £438 (The Sun, 11 January 1999).
January 1999 Gordon Brown Mr Brown faced accusations that he had broken the Ministerial Code over £100,000 paid to his girlfriend Sarah Macaulay’s PR firm by the New Statesman, which is owned by the ex-Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson (The Sun, 11 January 1999).
January 1999 Gordon Brown Mr Brown also faced questions after a firm run by Sarah Macaulay, his then girlfriend and now wife, received thousands of pounds from a company funded by Camelot, the National Lottery operator. The contract came as Camelot was preparing its bid to renew its lottery licence (The Sunday Times, 31 January 1999).
February 1999 Gordon Brown Mr Brown was accused of breaking the Ministerial Code by refusing point black to answer legitimate written Parliamentary questions (The Guardian, 4 February 1999).
March 1999 Stephen Timms Mr Timms was told he should have disposed of a shareholding in telecommunications and computing consultancy Ovum Ltd when he became a minister, or else put it into a blind trust (The Herald, 4 March 1999).
July 1999 Various Tony Blair was urged to investigate the use of the Government’s car pool amid claims of “scandalous misuse” of official limousines by ministers. One prominent Labour figure was alleged to have instructed his official driver to take him to a series of nightclubs and parties, while several others were said to have deliberately “blurred the line” between ministerial duties and social or constituency engagements (Daily Express, 26 July 1999).
April 2000 Baroness Scotland Baroness Scotland faced questions after her law business collapsed owing tens of thousands of pounds amid allegations of “an absence of leadership”.  Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC also faced questions over whether her job as head of a barristers’ chambers was compatible, under the ministerial code, with her position in the Government (Sunday Times, 2 April 2000).
July 2000 John Prescott Mr Prescott faced claims that he had breached the Ministerial Code by not registering the rent-controlled Clapham flat he leased from the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (Hull Daily Mail, 4 July 2000).
September 2000 Tony Blair Mr Blair and Mr Brown were accused by the Daily Mail of lying over the Bernie Ecclestone donation to the Labour Party.   The donation was highly sensitive as Formula One went on to lobby successfully to be exempt from a ban on tobacco advertising in sport (Daily Mail, 22 September 2000).
September 2000 Gordon Brown
January 2001 Peter Mandelson Mr Mandelson faced questions over why, as minister with responsibility for the Millennium Dome, he accepted a lavish champagne party from a businessman interested in buying the Dome.  Robert Bourne also donated £100,000 to the Labour Party (The Sun, 6 January 2001).
January 2001 Michael Meacher Mr Meacher faced questions about his ministerial duties when it was revealed that he owned nine homes.  As his ministerial portfolio included legislation on leasehold and commonhold reform, some said that his business interests presented a clear conflict of interest (Sunday Mirror, 21 January 2001).
January 2001 Peter Mandelson The Prime Minister accepted that Mr Mandelson had lied about a telephone call he made to Home Office Minister Mike O’Brien regarding the passport application of the Hinduja brothers (The Daily Express, 29 January 2001).
February 2001 Keith Vaz Mr Vaz faced accusations that he had breached the Ministerial Code by using a Foreign Office room to host a meeting about an restaurateur’s contested insurance claim (The Guardian, 3 February 2001).
February 2001 Keith Vaz Mr Vaz later faced questions over whether he broke the ministerial code after it was revealed that the businessman whose £175,000 insurance dispute he helped to settle retained Mr Vaz’s wife as a lawyer (The Sunday Times, 11 February 2001).
March 2001 Robin Cook The BBC accused Robin Cook of breaching the Ministerial Code by trying to influence reporting of the “Arms to Africa” affair, and then telling Parliament that he had done no such thing. A BBC reporter claimed that Mr Cook rang him almost two hours before the report was published, only minutes after receiving his official copy. Yet he “quoted it chapter and verse” and complained about the way the issue was being reported by the BBC.  Later Mr Cook insisted he had made no use of a leaked copy of the report and told MPs that he had made no comment to the media in advance of the report’s publication (Daily Mail, 12 March 2001).
March 2001 Geoffrey Robinson Mr Brown faced claims that he had browbeaten Sir Terry Burns, the senior Treasury civil servant into pretending he had official approval for Geoffrey Robinson’s tax-free offshore fund (The Scotsman, 21 March 2001).
March 2001 Gordon Brown
March 2001 Geoffrey Robinson Sir Michael Scholar, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Trade and Industry, was forced to take full responsibility for the decision to keep secret the findings that Geoffrey Robinson, the former paymaster general, misled Parliament over an alleged £200,000 payment from Robert Maxwell.  In a book by the investigative reporter Tom Bower, Mr Byers was accused of “burying” the critical report (The Guardian, 24 March 2001).
March 2001 Stephen Byers
March 2001 Keith Vaz The Commons Standards and Privileges Committee ruled that Mr Vaz broke the Ministerial Code by refusing to answer “fully and promptly” questions from Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Elizabeth Filkin, and was “wrong” to cease co-operating with her inquiry (Daily Mail, 13 March 2001).
October 2001 Stephen Byers Stephen Byers’ special adviser, Jo Moore, was reported to have ordered a civil servant to run a smear campaign against the London Underground boss Bob Kiley. When the official refused to comply, he was said to have been moved into another job. According to the ministerial code, ministers “must respect the political impartiality of the Civil Service and not act in any way which could conflict with the Civil Service code” (Daily Mail, 15 October 2001).
November 2001 Stephen Byers Mr Byers, the former Transport Secretary, admitted lying to the House of Commons over Railtrack’s collapse.  Under cross-examination in the High Court, he admitted that his denial that the Government had been investigating the future status of Railtrack before July 25 2001 was “not a truthful statement” (Daily Express, 16 July 2005).
December 2001 Nigel Griffiths Mr Griffiths faced calls that he should be investigated under the Ministerial Code, after allegations regarding his financial interests (The Scotsman, 17 December 2001).
2001-2004 David Blunkett Mr Blunkett faced questions about his free membership of the exclusive Mayfair nightclub Annabel’s. He was made an honorary member by the club’s patron Mark Birley in 2001. His four years of membership was at the time worth at least £3,000. The Ministerial Code states that “no Minister or public servant should accept gifts, hospitality or services from anyone which would, or might appear to, place him or her under an obligation” (The Daily Mail, 10 October 2005).
March 2002 Peter Mandelson Mr Mandelson was accused of flouting the ministerial code when he failed to consult the advisory committee on business appointments after losing his job as Northern Ireland secretary in January 2001. In March 2002 he was appointed to the board of Clemmow Hornby Inge, the advertising agency that has conducted campaigns for BT and British Gas. Despite the breach, Mandelson was subsequently offered his current job as European Union commissioner (Sunday Times, 6 November 2005).
October 2002 Estelle Morris Mrs Morris came under pressure when it was claimed that she violated the ministerial code by denying to Parliament that she had ever promised to resign over primary exam results. Mrs Morris said she had not “wilfully” sought to mislead MPs, and tried to focus attention away from the row by emphasising her belief in setting targets, even if they could not be met (The Daily Telegraph, 23 October 2002).
December 2002 Tony Blair Tony Blair was accused of breaking the Ministerial Code when he used a “blind trust” to buy two flats in Bristol. Cherie Blair instructed the blind trust to pay for the flats, in a deal negotiated by the convicted conman, Peter Foster (Financial Times, 12 December 2002).
December 2002 Tony Blair One of the two trustees of the Prime Minister’s “blind trust”, which was used to buy two flats, was reported to be a lawyer who was close friends with Lord Levy, and whose firm has earned millions from lucrative Government contracts. It was revealed that Martin Paisner was the man Downing Street refused to name when it emerged the trust was used to buy the Bristol apartments for £525,000. When Mr Paisner’s identity became known, reports questioned whether he was free of any influence from the Blairs (Daily Mail, 16 December 2002).
June 2003 Tony Blair Mr Blair faced allegations of misleading Parliament after details emerged of the “dodgy dossier” on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (The Independent, 27 June 2003).
September 2003 Tony Blair The Prime Minister was criticised for using the “Queen’s Flight”, formally known as 32 Squadron, to deliver him to the Labour Party Conference. The Ministerial Code dictates that official flights must be used only for government business and not party political matters (Daily Mail, 13 April 2006).
January 2004 Lord Falconer Lord Falconer was accused of threatening to sack a whistleblower who gave evidence to MPs on the failings of the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service. Judy Weleminsky, a member of the board of the Service, was suspended by Lord Falconer after giving evidence to MPs about the agency which makes recommendations on child custody disputes (Daily Mail, 15 January 2004).
February 2004 Tony Blair Mr Blair faced questions after controversy surrounding Cherie Blair’s speaking engagements.  An official investigation in Australia was launched after Mrs Blair spoke at a gala charity dinner in Victoria, Australia. Only nine per cent of the £81,000 proceeds went to the children’s cancer charity for which she was raising money. Under Victoria state law, charities must receive at least sixty per cent of funds raised in appeals on their behalf. Mrs Blair’s £17,000 fee dwarfed the £6,774 received by the charity, which faced closure in Victoria for breaching the law. Mrs Blair earned a reported £102,000 on the five-day charity tour (The Times, 27 October 2005).
March 2004 Clare Short Following her criticism of the Iraq war and the use of intelligence information, Clare Short, was warned by the former Cabinet Secretary, Sir Andrew Turnbull, warned her in a letter: “Under the terms of the ministerial code there are obligations on former ministers in order to safeguard national security, relations with other countries and the confidential nature of discussions between ministers and civil servants. You also took an oath on appointment to the Privy Council. To the extent that you are purporting to breach confidences given you by virtue of ministerial office, your behaviour is in direct conflict with these obligations, it could also have serious implications for the Agencies” (The Daily Telegraph, 1 March 2004).
Summer 2004 David Blunkett Mr Blunkett was reported to have required civil servants to be present at meetings with Kimberley Quinn as their affair was coming to an end, including a meeting that Mrs Quinn had with her lawyers (The Sunday Telegraph; 28 November 2004). 
Summer 2004 David Blunkett Mr Blunkett was reported to have used his ministerial car to have Kimberley Quinn driven to Sheffield (The Sunday Telegraph, 28 November 2004). 
Summer 2004 David Blunkett Mr Blunkett reportedly arranged for a policeman to be stationed outsidethe Mrs Quinn’s home during the May Day demonstrations (The Sunday Telegraph, 28 November 2004). 
Summer 2004 David Blunkett Mr Blunkett reportedly put pressure on the American Embassy to issue a temporary passport for Mrs Quinn’s son, William, so that the three of them could go to France (The Sunday Telegraph; Mail on Sunday, 28 November 2004). 
Summer 2004 David Blunkett Mr Blunkett reportedly shared confidential information with Mrs Quinn, including advice which she passed on to her parents about avoiding Newark airport just before a security alert (The Sunday Telegraph; Mail on Sunday, 28 November 2004). 
December 2004 David Blunkett Sir Alan Budd, the former civil servant investigating allegations against Mr Blunkett, found a ‘paper trail’ implicating Mr Blunkett’s private office in the fast-tracking of the application for a visa for Kimberley Quinn’s nanny, Leonicia Casalme (The Sunday Telegraph, 28 November 2004).
March 2005 Alan Milburn Mr Milburn was accused of being paid as a cabinet minister, by the taxpayer, to fulfil party political work ahead of Labour’s 2005 general election campaign.  Mr Milburn refused to divulge information about his budget as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to the National Audit Office (Mail on Sunday, 20 March 2005).
April 2005 Tony Blair It emerged in April 2005 that Mr Blair did not tell his Cabinet about crucial legal advice on Iraq.  The Prime Minister was forced to disclose the thirteen-page memorandum he received from Lord Goldsmith on the legality of the war. It was never shown to Cabinet or MPs, as Mr Blair should have under the Ministerial Code (Daily Express, 30 April 2005).
April 2005 Tony Blair Mr Blair was accused of breaching the Ministerial Code when, just before the general election, he travelled to the struggling MG Rover plant in Birmingham on a chartered flight, paid for by the taxpayer. He then flew from Birmingham to London in an RAF helicopter.  The Code dictates that official flights must be used only for government business and not party political matters (Daily Mail, 13 April 2006).
May 2005 Tessa Jowell Ms Jowell’s senior press officer, Paddy Feeny, admitted that he had worked on behalf of her husband, David Mills. Mr Mills’ case in the Italian courts had nothing to do with British governmental affairs, but Mr Feeny issued a verbal statement and then e-mailed a written statement on Mr Mills’ behalf. Mr Feeny said that he acknowledged that his contact with a newspaper about Mr Mills’ case was an error, but insisted that neither Mrs Jowell nor Mr Mills had asked him to do so (The Times, 27 May 2005).
Summer 2005 Tony Blair In 2005 Mr Arnault, France’s richest man, hosted Euan Blair for an eight-week stay in Paris worth around £40,000 while he did work experience at LVMH. The previous year Nicky Blair, 21, had free accommodation when he did work experience at Krug champagne in Rheims, part of LVMH. Mr Arnault has also stayed with the Blairs at Chequers (Daily Mail, 12 February 2007).
Summer 2005 Stephen Twigg Mr Twigg, the former schools minister, consulted the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments only after he had accepted two new jobs (Financial Times, 24 July 2006).
June 2005 Ivor Caplin Mr Caplin, the former defence minister, took jobs with two defence industry companies, Foresight Communications and MBDA Missile Systems, without consulting the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments at all.  The ministerial code says: “On leaving office, ministers should seek advice from the ... committee ... about any appointments they wish to take up within two years of leaving office” (The Sunday Times, 4 June 2006).
October 2005 David Blunkett Sally Anderson, who claims that Mr Blunkett seduced her in September 2005, said that he offered her dinner with the Prime Minister and his wife if she left her fiancé for him, and told her she could use a basement flat in his taxpayer-funded ministerial home while she sorted out her domestic arrangements (Daily Express; Daily Mirror, 17 October 2005).
October 2005 Bill Rammell Mr Rammell came under pressure after allegedly misrepresenting research on university admissions. He was asked to explain the apparent misuse of research to show that students from wealthier backgrounds were gaining an unfair advantage in the race for places at leading universities. Mr Rammell justified proposals for universities to hold back a proportion of their places until after the publication of A-level results by saying that “the existing system is least fair to the poorest students”. But The Times found that the study commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills showed the opposite. The ministerial code says: “It is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister” (The Times, 8 October 2005).
November 2005 David Blunkett Lord Mayhew, Chairman of the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, wrote to David Blunkett on 21 December 2004 to remind him of paragraph 5.29 of the Ministerial Code, that ‘on leaving office, Ministers should seek advice’ from the Committee about any appointments they take up.  But Mr Blunkett failed to consult the on several occasions. 

Indepen Consulting Ltd: Lord Mayhew wrote to Mr Blunkett again on 2 March 2005 after he had been alerted to a possible breach of the Code by an article had appeared in the Daily Mail (22 February 2005). He enclosed a copy of his first letter and again pointed out that whilst accepting the advice of the Committee is voluntary, their opinion should be sought. Mr Blunkett had failed to tell the Committee. Mr Blunkett replied insisting that his failure to register the appointment had been a ‘misunderstanding’ (The Independent on Sunday, 30 October 2005).

November 2005 David Blunkett DNA Bioscience: The next month, Mr Blunkett accepted the position of non-executive director of DNA Bioscience, a company bidding for Government work, and failed to inform the Committee. Mr Blunkett accepted the paid position with DNA Bioscience on 21 April 2005.  Tony Nichols, the clerk to the Committee is reported as saying ‘David Blunkett did not seek the committee’s advice about DNA Bioscience’ (The Independent on Sunday, 30 October 2005). 
November 2005 David Blunkett World Ort: According to Mr Blunkett’s entry in the Register of Members Interests, he took up paid employment with a charitable organisation called the ORT at some point between January and April 2005 and was paid between £15,000 and £20,000. Mr Blunkett asked Lord Mayhew in their exchange of letters whether the Committee has a remit over charitable organisations, and was told that in the case of paid employment, it did.  Nonetheless, Mr Blunkett made no attempt either to brief them about or to consult with them over this appointment. World ORT began actively lobbying the Department for Education and Skills for £46 million to build a new state-funded school in North London during this period. A spokesperson commented that ‘David Blunkett assisted World ORT with our international work and future development in the early part of the year’ (Daily Mail, 2 November 2005).
December 2005 David Blunkett Mr Blunkett also took a job writing for the tabloid Sun after consulting the committee but without waiting for its response (Financial Times, 24 July 2006).
December 2005 John Prescott Mr Prescott was accused breaking the Ministerial Code after he accepted hospitality from Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club while the planning permission he granted its new stadium was still being contested. He was also accused of having met at least one of the Club’s directors while the planning application was being considered, in a way that may have compromised his semi-judicial role as head of the planning system (The Daily Telegraph, 31 December 2005).
December 2005 Peter Hain Mr Hain appointed Bertha McDougall as Interim Victims Commissioner in December 2005. When DUP sources claimed the appointment as a political victory, the appointment was challenged by Brenda Downes. Lord Justice Girvan found that Mrs McDougall was the only person interviewed about the post and that the DUP was the only political party consulted The judge ruled that Mr Hain breached the law, the Ministerial Code and the accepted norms for public appointments for an improper purpose. There is a separate and ongoing review for the Attorney General into whether Mr Hain and senior civil servants tried to cover up the reasons for the appointment. Mr Hain is challenging the ruling (The Belfast Telegraph, 2 March 2007)
December 2005 Tony Blair Mr Blair was accused of misleading Parliament after it emerged that he knew the UK may have approved the CIA’s use of British airspace to illegally transport terror suspects for torture.  The Prime Minister told MPs that the Government knew nothing about British airports being used in the secret transfer of Al Qaeda suspects to interrogation facilities abroad. But a leaked Foreign Office memo reportedly showed that he had been told days earlier that Britain may have approved requests by the CIA to allow the flights (Daily Mail, 19 January 2006).
May 2006 John Prescott Mr Prescott faced accusations that he broke the ministerial code by encouraging the secretary with whom he was having an affair to breach civil service rules.  The ODPM guidebook instructs staff and senior managers at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister not to make “improper use” of accommodation, furniture and workspace, especially during “official time”.  It says that innuendo, leering, lewd comments, touching, or deliberate brushing against others is discouraged as they could lead to claims of sexual harassment (The Daily Telegraph, 31 May 2006).
February 2006 Richard Caborn Mr Caborn was alleged to have misled Parliament after a secret document revealed full details of a £49.5 million funding bid to propel Great Britain to fourth place in the medal table at the London 2012 Olympics. UK Sport’s endorsement of a fourth place medal target, sent to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in November 2005, contradicted a parliamentary written answer given by Mr Caborn, in which he stated: “Neither the department nor UK Sport has set an aspirational target for Olympic medals in London 2012” (The Guardian, 15 February 2006).
February-March 2006 Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell was accused of breaking the ministerial code after allegations that she knew about an alleged £350,000 bribe to her husband David Mills.  In a leaked note of a meeting with the Inland Revenue, Mr Mills implied Ms Jowell knew more about his financial affairs than had been previously claimed. This led to suggestions that she might have misled Sir Gus O’Donnell when he investigated allegations that she had breached the ministerial code by failing to declare the payment (The Sunday Times, 28 May 2006).
March 2006 Tessa Jowell Ms Jowell was accused of breaking the Ministerial Code again following claims that her special adviser briefed the media on her David Mills’ behalf.  Sara Latham was reported to have telephoned a journalist on Mr Mills’ behalf, shortly after the lawyer formally separated from Miss Jowell (Daily Mail, 16 March 2006).
March 2006 Tessa Jowell Ms Jowell was also accused of misleading Dame Sue Street, her Permanent Secretary, over Mr Mills’ business interests in Iran.  She told Dame Sue that Mr Mills had resigned as managing director of a firm that was selling £115 million worth of British Aerospace jets to Iran.  However, according to reports, there was no record of her declaring that Mr Mills continued to be the legal owner of BDIC (UK), the firm behind the aircraft deal. Mr Mills had lobbied Baroness Symons over the deal (The Times, 13 March 2006).
March 2006 Tessa Jowell Ms Jowell faced claims that she had broken the Ministerial Code because Mr Mills made £67,000 from shares in a pub chain, the Old Monk Company.  She denied that he had ever owned shares in the firm, but documents obtained by Sky News were said to prove he was the “beneficial owner” of the company that owned the shares (The Scotsman, 8 March 2006).
May 2006 Gordon Brown Gordon Brown broke the ministerial code by failing to comply with its rules on overseas travel. He was also accused of trying to cover up his breach of the code by giving evasive answers to questions in Parliament. Mr Brown failed to gain written permission from the Prime Minister to travel to Nigeria in May 2006. The Treasury later said that arrangements for the trip were “in line with normal procedures”, but a Freedom of Information request revealed that he did not gain the Prime Minister’s written permission to travel. The ministerial code states that cabinet ministers travelling outside the EU on official business must “seek the Prime Minister’s written approval” (The Independent, 11 February 2007).
Summer 2006 Margaret Beckett In her first six months as foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett took her husband, Leo, on eight foreign trips lasting a total of 27 days. According to the Foreign Office, Mrs Beckett’s predecessors, Robin Cook and Jack Straw, were only “occasionally” accompanied overseas by their wives. Mr Beckett is also paid from his wife’s parliamentary allowance to work on constituency matters. The Ministerial Code says that the travel costs of spouses can be paid occasionally from public funds (The Times, 8 November 2006).
July 2006 Tony Blair When Mr Blair supported a change in the law to extend copyright protection on musicians’ recordings, he faced question about gifts he had received from Sir Cliff Richard.  After the Blair family started spending their summer holidays at Sir Cliff’s Barbados home, Mr Blair said the copyright row was among the most important issues facing the country. Written notes of a meeting attended by the Prime Minister said he “addressed concerns” about laws “whereby Cliff Richard and the Rolling Stones only receive 50 years’ protection compared with 70 years in the rest of Europe”. The Government has since set up a review into changing the law on copyright. The ministerial code says: “No minister should accept gifts, hospitality or services from anyone which would, or might appear to, place him or her under an obligation.” Downing Street refused to comment on whether Mr Blair discussed the matter with Sir Cliff (The Daily Express, 31 July 2006).
July 2006 Patricia Hewitt Mr Johnson and Ms Hewitt became embroiled in a row about the £5 billion city academies programme after it emerged that they held meetings with academy sponsors.  They held the meetings in their constituencies at the same time as their departments were involved in policy decisions that could affect the potential sponsors. Several junior ministers also had similar dealings with academy sponsors. The ministerial code stipulates that ministers must separate their local constituency work from their official government business (The Sunday Times, 16 July 2006).
July 2006 Alan Johnson
July 2006 John Prescott Despite being cleared by the Prime Minister, Mr Prescott was rebuked by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for staying at the Colorado ranch of Philip Anschutz, the owner of the Millennium Dome, and who was bidding for a “super casino” license.  Sir Philip Mawer concluded that Mr Prescott may have broken ministerial rules by accepting his hospitality.  Sir Philip said Mr Prescott had taken the view that “accepting Mr Anschutz’s hospitality would not place him under any obligation.  However, what Mr Prescott failed to do at that time was also to address, as the Ministerial Code requires, whether the proposed hospitality was from a source which might reasonably be thought likely to influence ministerial action” (The Scotsman, 22 July 2006).
July 2006 John Prescott In the Anschutz affair, Mr Prescott breached the ministerial code again by not declaring a cowboy outfit worth £600 to UK Customs (Independent on Sunday, 23 July 2006).
August 2006 John Prescott Mr Prescott faced allegations that his son was profiting from the Government’s house building policy.  He was urged to reveal any links between planning decisions he took and his son Johnathan's regeneration firm, Estate Partnerships. The calls came amid concerns of a potential conflict of interest between Mr Prescott's role as the minister in charge of planning and his son’s business interests. Estate Partnerships advises property developers and builders about land that has a good prospect of receiving planning permission. It was reported that one site the firm was involved with is the Eaglescliffe Logistics Centre in Middlesbrough. Proposals to build 600 homes there are being considered by ministers (The Daily Telegraph, 21 August 2006).
October 2006 Liam Byrne Home Office minister Liam Byrne was revealed to own £30,000 of shares in E-Government Solutions (EGS), which holds contracts with eight police forces in the UK (Mail on Sunday, 1 October 2006).
November 2006 Tony Blair Cherie Blair was accused of cashing in the Prime Minister’s position with a final lucrative overseas lecture tour. Mrs Blair was marketed in the US and Canada as the “First Lady of Great Britain” for a list of engagements in June 2007. The tour will net around £100,000. The ministerial code is clear that ministers are personally responsible for ensuring that there is no conflict of interest, or even a perception of a conflict, between their jobs and the financial interests of their family (The Independent, 19 November 2006)
November 2006 Lord Sainsbury Lord Sainsbury, the former science minister, resigned after it was revealed he had lent £2 million to the Labour Party in 2005, although he denied his resignation was due to the loan. It turned out that Lord Sainsbury had failed to declare his loan to his officials. He claimed that he had confused his loan with an earlier donation which he had declared and was cleared of any breach of the ministerial code by the Prime Minister (The Daily Telegraph, 18 November 2006).
January 2007 James Purnell Mr Purnell faced questions over whether he broke the ministerial code by using his government car to take his girlfriend, Thea Rogers, on dates.  The ministerial code clearly states that ministers should not use their cars for “private business” (Daily Mail, 23 January 2007).
February 2007 Gordon Brown Mr Brown has eleven special advisers despite the Ministerial Code saying: “Cabinet Ministers may each appoint up to two special advisers.” Three of the advisers work directly for Mr Brown: Sue Nye, Spencer Livermore and Damian McBride. Two more, Jonathan Ashworth and Jo Dipple, are assigned to Stephen Timms, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Mr Brown has a further seven special advisers, who report to the Council of Economic Advisers, which was set up by the Chancellor in 1997. They are Gila Sacks, Shriti Vadera, Dan Corry, Paul Gregg, Michael Jacobs, Stewart Wood and Gavin Kelly. Ten of the advisers are paid but Mrs Nye does not take a salary (The Daily Telegraph, 23 February 2007).
February 2007 Lord Warner Lord Warner, a former health minister in charge of the NHS’s crisis-hit £20 billion computer project, was appointed to the Provider Development Agency just weeks after quitting as a minister. After resigning in December 2006, it was reported that he was instrumental in setting up the agency he now runs. There was “no record” of him consulting the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. The closing date for applications for the agency post was a week before Lord Warner announced he was stepping down (Daily Mail, 23 February 2007).
February 2007 Hilary Benn Hilary Benn resigned the directorship of Unions 21, after claiming he was unaware that it had received £20,000 in public money in 2006. He had been given a rare special dispensation to continue as a director of Unions 21, a think-tank that promotes trade union values, despite rules banning ministers from holding directorships. But he was forced to resign the directorship, which he held from 1999, after The Times contacted his office to ask about the £19,995 that the organisation received from the DTI last year. Section 9.5 of the ministerial code says ministers should not normally support organisations or pressure groups that are “dependent in whole or in part on government funding” (The Times, 16 February 2007).
February 2007 Tony Blair Mr Blair accepted an invitation on behalf of his daughter Kathryn for her to stay as a guest of France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault. During her course at the Sorbonne, which ran from 12 October to 26 January, she was a guest at the Arnaults’ £20million mansion on the Left Bank. Mr Arnault was reported to have provided an accommodation, security and transport package worth around £80,000. Mr Arnault, who has stayed with the Blairs at Chequers, has in the past hosted Kathryn’s brothers. The Ministerial Code says no minister or member of their family should accept gifts or hospitality which could appear to put them under an obligation (Daily Mail, 12 February 2007).
March 2007 Gerry Sutcliffe An undercover Sunday Times investigation quoted Ivan Henderson, a former Labour MP and lobbyist, saying: “He [Gerry Sutcliffe] is saying to us, ‘Come on, you use me’. That is what Gerry is actually saying ... ‘I am there to be used. I want to help you. Use me’” (The Sunday Times, 18 March 2007).
March 2007 Stephen Ladyman The same investigation quoted Mr Henderson saying: “Every time I e-mail him, he comes right back ... He says ‘Ivan, this is what the score is’. He has never turned me down yet. He has gone over the top really. It is a bit dodgy sometimes” (The Sunday Times, 18 March 2007).
March 2007 David Jamieson The same report claimed that Mr Jamieson failed to seek approval from the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments for his appointment to the lobbying firm in question, Golden Arrow (The Sunday Times, 18 March 2007).


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.