Heath faces new official complaint

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The Independent Online
SIR EDWARD Heath is facing a second official complaint that he broke House of Commons rules by failing to register paid posts, The Independent has learned. The former prime minister held undeclared advisory posts with a Japanese arts body, an independent school in India and a British accountancy and consultancy firm, all of which were paid.

The revelation could lead to demands for a public apology from Sir Edward, though he has insisted he did not break the rules. He has already admitted not registering four posts with organisations linked to China and Saudi Arabia.

Last night the Labour MP making the complaints, Fraser Kemp, demanded Sir Edward publish correspondence with the former parliamentary commissioner for standards, Sir Gordon Downey.

Sir Edward said Sir Gordon had approved his decision not to register, but well-placed Commons sources insisted MPs were told as a general principle that their paid interests should be registered.

Sir Edward, the MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup MP insisted yesterday that he did not have to register advisory posts because they were not linked to the House of Commons. Hisoffice confirmed he was paid as an international adviser to Praemium Imperiale, a major arts award backed by Japanese businessmen.

Other members of the advisory panel for the award have included the President of France, Jacques Chirac, and the former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

Until about a year ago Sir Edward also acted as paid international patron for the Varkey International Academy, a private school in Bombay.

Between 1978 and 1998 he sat on the public review board of Arthur Andersen, a majoraccountancy and consultancy firm - another paid position. The last two posts were mentioned in the January 1995 Register of Members' Interests, but in no subsequent edition.

Mr Kemp, the Labour MP for Houghton and Washington East, plans to complain to the new parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Elizabeth Filkin, about the non-disclosures. "The onus is on Sir Edward to produce the correspondence relating to this. If people are to have confidence in the parliamentary system it has to be seen to apply to all 659 MPs equally," he said.

A spokesman for Sir Edward said the posts had no bearing on his parliamentary work. The rules said only that MPs should register financial interests which might reasonably be thought to influence their actions as elected members. "Mr Kemp must cite any evidence of any occasion, speech or vote which could reasonably be thought to have been influenced," he said.

Sir Gordon told The Independent he could not comment directly on the case: "The advice I gave to any member ... had to be advice given in confidence. I would have carefully explained the tests relating to new rules," he said.

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