Filkin demands an open inquiry

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Indy Politics

Elizabeth Filkin, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, has challenged the Speaker of the Commons to conduct an open inquiry into the "whispering campaign" against her and publish her evidence against the MPs and spin doctors she claims have driven her from office.

Mrs Filkin submitted a dossier of evidence to the Speaker, Michael Martin, last week after he demanded that she "name names" to back up her allegations. But he ordered her not to go public with it.

Now Mrs Filkin, whose contract as Parliament's sleaze watchdog expires in February, wants him to publicly vindicate her claims by carrying out a full investigation. She said: "I have invited him to make the contents of my letter public. That invitation remains open."

The dispute between Mr Martin and Mrs Filkin erupted, Westminster sources say, after her critical high-profile inquiries into senior Labour figures including Peter Mandelson, Keith Vaz, Geoffrey Robinson and Dr John Reid.

She is said to be concerned that her and her office have been damaged by a statement by the Speaker last week and briefings to the press, and feels that Mr Martin must complete his inquiry so that her successor can act independently.

Mrs Filkin's first report of the New Year, already submitted to the Standards and Privileges Committee, is unlikely to ease the tension surrounding her post. It concerns further complaints against Mr Vaz and is expected to rebuke him for obstructing her inquiries.