MPs lead call to strip Dame Shirley of title

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The Independent Online
Labour MPs yesterday demanded the Government ask the Queen to strip Dame Shirley Porter of her title.

Dame Shirley, the leader of Westminster City Council at the centre of the "homes-for-votes" scandal, was found guilty by the district auditor of "wilful misconduct" and "disgraceful and improper gerrymandering" between 1987 and 1989.

The High Court upheld the auditor's decision to impose a pounds 27m surcharge on Dame Shirley and one of her former colleagues, former councillor David Weeks, while clearing three other councillors on 19 December last year.

The 25 Labour MPs, who signed a Commons Early Day Motion yesterday, condemned the Tory council's "failure ... to take any steps whatsoever to recover the pounds 27m now owed to the people of Westminster".

It states that: "Dame Shirley Porter was made a Dame of the British Empire in recognition of her services to local government but, in view of the court's judgement, [this House] considers that she is no longer a fit person to hold this honour."

The MPs called upon the Government "to make representations to Her Majesty the Queen to remove from Dame Shirley Porter her DBE".

Conservative former prime minister John Major was also "condemned" by the Labour motion, put down by Hendon MP Andrew Dismore.

The motion - which is unlikely to be debated in the Commons but provides a chance for MPs to raise issues they feel strongly about - fiercely criticises Mr Major's silence about the affair.

It states: "This House condemns the fact, despite assurances previously given by the former Conservative prime minister, John Major, that he would unreservedly condemn Dame Shirley Porter if she were found guilty in a court of law, no condemnation or criticism has yet been made by any Conservative member of this House or of Westminster City Council."

The attack comes after Dame Shirley and Mr Weeks were found guilty of "wilful misconduct resulting in a loss to Westminster City Council of pounds 27,023,376 as a consequence of their illegal homes for votes gerrymandering policy", the motion states.

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