Speaker rejects inquiry into MP's 'Sun' claims

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The Independent Online

The Speaker of the Commons said yesterday that it was beyond his remit to investigate claims that The Sun intimidated an MP who was trying to investigate claims of sexual harassment at the newspaper.

Clive Soley, the former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, told the Commons on Tuesday that he believed News International, the newspaper's owner, had paid £500,000, with a condition of silence, to a woman who alleged she had been sexually harassed by Stuart Higgins, a former editor of The Sun.

He said the newspaper sent him a "threatening" letter when he tried to investigate the matter. News International responded by accusing Mr Soley of abusing his privileges.

The Speaker, Michael Martin, had promised a full investigation. But he told Mr Soley yesterday: "I ... can understand your concern, but I am bound by the rules of the House relating to such matters and I do not believe that the correspondence [from The Sun] raises any issues on which I can intervene".