Parliament & politics: Members' interests: Inquiry into Robinson businesses delayed

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AN INQUIRY by Sir Gordon Downey into Geoffrey Robinson's business affairs has been delayed because the Paymaster General has not yet responded to all the questions put to him, it emerged last night.

The news follows yesterday's revelations in The Independent, that Mr Robinson had been reported again to Sir Gordon for allegedly breaking Commons rules by not mentioning his Italian estate on the Register of Members' Interests. The estate, a villa, small hamlet and some farmland, is run by two businesses owned by Mr Robinson and is believed to be worth around pounds 1.5m.

The Shadow Chancellor, Francis Maude, has asked Sir Gordon to open a new investigation. Sir Gordon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, is already looking into Mr Robinson's involvement with an offshore trust and into dealings in Coventry City Football Club shares.

He is also investigating claims that Mr Robinson did not declare the directorships of several companies, some connected with Robert Maxwell.

It is understood that Mr Robinson has not yet provided all the information Sir Gordon needs to complete his inquiries.

Yesterday Mr Maude called for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to be given extra resources. He told the House of Commons Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, that the earlier inquiries had already been going on for more than three months.

"This level of activity was not envisaged when Sir Gordon's office was set up. My point is to ensure that sufficient resources are available to the commissioner," he said.