MP sleaze report uses hard words

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Indy Politics
The 900-page report on the cash-for-questions affair which is expected to be highly critical of many of the 10 former MPs involved will be published tomorrow.

Robert Sheldon, the new chairman of the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee, said that the language in the report into the actions of former MPs was "quite strong".

The 10 former MPs against whom allegations have been made will be given the chance to read the report from 10am and it will be published at 4pm. They will then have two weeks in which to make representations to the committee of 11 MPs before they produce their own report. The committee's ability to take action against any miscreants has been reduced because all have retired or lost their seats, and therefore cannot be expelled. They could be called to give an account of themselves under oath and could be banned from sitting again in Parliament.

The most serious allegations have been made against five of the former MPs. Neil Hamilton is alleged to have lied to Michael Heseltine, the then deputy prime minister over money he received from lobbyist Ian Greer, but has consistently denied accepting cash to ask questions in Parliament on behalf of Mohamed al Fayed.

Other former MPs whose behaviour is considered by the report include Sir Michael Grylls (former MP for Surrey North-West) who received at least pounds 86,000 from Mr Greer; Sir Andrew Bowden (former MP for Brighton Kemptown) who admits failing to declare pounds 5,319 given by Mr Fayed; Michael Brown (former MP for Brigg and Cleethorpes) who did not declare pounds 6,000 commission for lobbying for tobacco interests to the tax authorities until seven years after he received it; and Tim Smith, the former minister who resigned as candidate for Beaconsfield before the election because he was alleged to have accepted around pounds 18,000 from Mr Fayed which he did not declare.

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