Brown rebuked by sleaze watchdog

Gordon Brown was rebuked by the Westminster sleaze watchdog today for subletting taxpayer-funded office space to Labour party colleagues.

The Prime Minister "inadvertently" broke rules by allowing premises in his Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency to be used.



No punishment will be sought because Mr Brown has apologised and neither he nor the party benefited financially, the Standards and Privileges Committee said.













The committee said in its report: "We conclude that Mr Brown should not have sub-let part of his accommodation paid for from Parliamentary allowances.

"However, neither Mr Brown nor the Labour Party derived any financial benefit from this arrangement and there was no intention to deceive.



"We accept that Mr Brown's breach of the rules of the House was inadvertent and that he took steps to rectify it as soon as it was drawn to his attention.



"Mr Brown has apologised and, in our view, no further action is necessary."



Tory frontbencher Greg Hands, who lodged the complaint against Mr Brown, said he accepted the Premier's apology.



He said: "It does not appear that the Prime Minister has personally profited from the breach, and he did quickly rectify the situation when it was brought to his attention by my complaint and by the media."













The rebuke - though light - will be embarrassing for the premier, who has gone to great lengths to distance himself from sleaze rows in the past.

Between 2005 and 2008, Mr Brown rented a constituency office in Kirkcaldy jointly with MSP Marilyn Livingstone.



Part of the office was sublet to the local Labour Party, which paid Mr Brown and Ms Livingstone around £1,259 a year each.



The breach arose because the then-chancellor was funding the office out of his MP's allowances.



Commons rules have explicitly banned subletting of premises paid for on expenses since 2004 - when former Scottish First Minister Henry McCleish was forced to quit over a similar scandal.



However, the committee found Mr Brown had reduced his allowances claims to account for the extra income.



The Commons authorities were also criticised for giving the MP bad advice when he consulted them about the arrangement. It was stopped in December 2007 when the breach emerged in the media.



A spokesman for Mr Brown said: "We accept the findings of the report which makes clear that the error was inadvertent, there was no intention to deceive, it brought no financial benefit to Mr Brown or the Labour Party, and was quickly rectified once identified."









The Committee concluded: "When entering into the arrangement to share a constituency office with a Member of the Scottish Parliament and to sublet part of it to his local party, Mr Brown should have ensured that the House of Commons authorities were consulted on the rules relating to Members' allowances."

It also highlighted that the premier had acted "dangerously" by assuming that Commons rules were the same as those for the Scottish parliament - which allowed subletting of taxpayer-funded properties.



The MPs said: "It is clearly dangerous for Members of Parliament to assume that the rules of other parliamentary assemblies in the United Kingdom are the same as those of the House of Commons, or vice versa."



The Prime Minister was also criticised for dragging his heels in dealings with standards commissioner John Lyon. The probe took a year to complete after being launched last February.



"We note... that Mr Brown took six weeks to reply to the Commissioner's first letter and that a period of two and a half months elapsed between the Commissioner writing again to Mr Brown and a meeting between them taking place," the committee said.



"It was almost a month before a reply was made to a further letter to Mr Brown, in which the Commissioner requested a response within two weeks.



"While we recognise the extraordinary pressures on the Prime Minister, we believe this should have been handled more promptly."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star