Lib Dem leader 'may have broken sleaze rules'

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Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy is to consult the Commons sleaze watchdog to see if he broke rules governing the disclosure of outside interests.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy is to consult the Commons sleaze watchdog to see if he broke rules governing the disclosure of outside interests.

A party spokesman said Mr Kennedy would be seeking "clarification" from the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, Elizabeth Filkin, on the registration of his speaking fees.

A newspaper report said organisations were being asked for up to £4,000 a time to book the 40-year-old party leader for after-dinner speeches.

Mr Kennedy declares earning "fees from writing, broadcasting and speechmaking" in the current Register of Interests.

But the current Parliamentary rules reportedly state that MPs must specify all fees of more than £500 and "frequent engagements" - described as more than three a year.

Mr Kennedy was paid £3,000 in June to open an Institute of Waste Management conference in Paignton, Devon, and made another speech in Newcastle in April. He reportedly plans to make another speech in October.

A Liberal Democrat statement read: "Charles Kennedy makes occasional speeches for which he receives a fee.

"In this financial year he has made three and is due to make one more in the autumn.

"Unlike William Hague he receives no extra salary as a party leader.

"He has declared income from speeches in the Register of Members Interests and he always is meticulous about registering all his outside interests."

"He will be in touch with Elizabeth Filkin to inquire whether any further clarification is necessary."

London Mayor Ken Livingstone fell foul of Commons rules earlier this year when Mrs Filkin ruled that he should have listed individually his substantial annual income from speeches and articles.

He was forced to make an apology to the Commons.

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