Four ministers accused of rules breach

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FOUR Government ministers have been in breach of Whitehall rules by failing to resign their company directorships while in office, a Commons motion tabled by Labour MPs alleged yesterday, writes Steve Connor.

The MPs, led by Bob Cryer, member for Bradford South, have called on the Prime Minister to investigate alleged breaches of ministerial rules which state that ministers must resign company directorships when they take up office.

The motion names Viscount Cranborne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence since April 1992, as a director of Stalbury Trustees, which is devoted to the promotion of Conservative principles.

Sir Wyn Roberts, Minister of State at the Welsh Office since 1987, was until recently a director of Professional Secretarial Services Ltd, a company he set up nine years ago. The Welsh Office said Sir Wyn was not available for comment.

Jeremy Hanley, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, is a director of Sheridan- Hanley, a company established to handle the income of his mother, the actress Dinah Sheridan. Finally, Tim Yeo, a Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, is named as a director of Anacol Holdings, 'a subsidiary of which has principally been engaged in security dealing', the motion states.

The only exemption to the Whitehall rule is if the company concerned is established 'in connection with private family estates' where there is no conflict of interest with public duties. Mr Hanley and Viscount Cranborne said they did not resign their directorships because their companies fitted the exemption criterion.