Robinson faces shares rebuke

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GEOFFREY ROBINSON, the former paymaster-general, faced an official complaint from the Tories last night after The Independent revealed he had an undeclared shareholding in a property investment firm.

Elizabeth Filkin, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, has been asked to investigate whether Mr Robinson broke the rules. If she upholds the complaint, the former minister will be dealt with severely by the MPs' watchdog committee, which warned on Wednesday that it would treat another breach very seriously.

Mr Robinson has been criticised three times by the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges for failing to list directorships in the Register of Members' Interests.

David Heathcoat-Amory, the Tory Treasury spokesman, said Mr Robinson should be given no more latitude. "It now appears that he has committed a further grave breach of the rules. I hope the committee will look at this very seriously," he said.

Company records show that, between April and November 1997, Mr Robinson held jointly with his stepmother, Pauline Robinson, one third of the shares in the JCT Property Company. They were transferred to them from the JCT Trust and the share register entry is marked "PW Robinson settlement".

A current minister was also facing criticism yesterday after The Independent revealed that he had failed to sell shares in a company he used to work for. Stephen Timms, a Social Security minister, is to be forced to dispose of the shares in Ovumafter Conservatives claimed the holding could cause a conflict of interest.

A written answer to Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative Social Security spokesman,stressed that the responsibility for disposing of interests lay with Mr Timms.

Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State for Social Security, said no conflict had occurred but added: "The Minister of State will be taking further steps in accordance with the ministerial code."