Mark Pritchard investigation: New allegations fuel debate on MPs’ jobs on the side

Senior Tory Pritchard is under investigation by Commons standards committee

Political Editor

Labour has called for curbs on MPs’ outside earnings after a senior Conservative MP was accused of trying to exploit his foreign contacts to set up lucrative business deals from which he could profit.

A debate over whether MPs should have second jobs was reignited when Mark Pritchard referred himself for investigation by the Commons standards watchdog. But he strongly denied  what he called “hurtful and malicious” claims by the Daily Telegraph that he offered to use his personal “network” to arrange meetings with politicians in countries where he had parliamentary connections. He is consulting his lawyers about the paper’s story, which was based on conversations with an undercover reporter.

Although Mr Pritchard is alleged to have asked for a £3,000-a-month retainer and three per cent commission on any deal, he did not receive any money. If he had done, it is unclear whether he would have broken Commons rules if he declared the income in the MPs’ register and any possible conflict of interest when he spoke in debates.

Labour claimed that “Tory sleaze” had returned, and highlighted links between Conservative MPs and the financial services industry.

These include Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is the director of investment management firm Somerset Capital Management LLP, and who received about £134,400 in the last year for working 35 hours a month; Jonathan Evans, who earns £110,000 a year for 14 hours a month as non-executive chairman for Phoenix Holdings; Nicholas Soames, an adviser to insurance broker Marsh Group, who earns £92,880 a year for 15 hours a month; Andrew Mitchell, the former Government Chief Whip, who is paid £60,000 a year for 10 days' work as a senior strategic adviser by Investec; Mark Field, an adviser to international law firm Cains Advocates, who is paid around £40,000 a year for about 10 hours a month; Sir Peter Tapsell, an adviser to the Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation (Japan) who earns £30,000 a year for about 10 hours a month and Sir John Stanley, a consultant on financial services to Fidelity, who is paid £21,600 a year for between five and eight hours per month.

The MPs declared their payments and there is no suggestion that they broke  Commons rules.

But Stephen Twigg, Labour’s spokesman on constitutional affairs, told The Independent: “We need MPs focused on securing the economic recovery for hard-working families not securing profits for financial firms.

"Labour has said that there need to be curbs on MPs' outside earnings. Democratic duty should be the singular focus of those on the green benches, not an added extra. These MPs will need to show that they're working in the interests of their constituents and not in the pockets of the financial sector.”

If Labour wins power, it may limit MPs’ outside earnings to 15 per cent on top of their £66,396-a-year salary.

Mr Pritchard, who told the undercover reporter he would not lobby on behalf of clients, said yesterday: “The allegations are false and I deny their claims. They have selected quotes out of context to fit their desired story.”

Before becoming MP for The Wrekin in 2005, Mr Pritchard ran a marketing consultancy. He admits having an "unorthodox background" for a Tory MP, after spending the first five years of his life in a Victorian orphanage in Hereford. He grew up in foster care in a council house and went to a comprehensive school, later setting up “The Old Boys Comprehensive Lunch Club.”

In 2010, he was elected secretary of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, giving him a role in representing their views to David Cameron, but stood down two years later.

A Eurosceptic with a close interest in foreign affairs and defence, he was an architect of a Commons defeat for Mr Cameron on the EU budget last year. No fan of the Coalition, he denounced what he called the “purple plotters” after reports that some Tories and Lib Dems wanted to field joint candidates at the next election.

In 2011, Mr Pritchard successfully proposed a ban on wild animals in circuses. In an emotional Commons speech, he claimed he had been put under pressure by Downing Street to withdraw the motion, first by being offered a post and then being threatened. Friends say he went through a difficult break-up with Sondra, his wife of 15 years. He announced in July they were to divorce.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
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
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

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition