Sacked watchdog may get similar NI role

Standards
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Indy Politics

The parliamentary watchdog, who was in effect sacked from her post for being "too rigorous", is being considered as the Northern Ireland Assembly's new sleaze watchdog.

Yesterday, David Ford, head of the Alliance party of Northern Ireland, said Assembly members had discussed making Elizabeth Filkin their first permanent Standards Commissioner. Ms Filkin's main rival for the job would be Tom Frawley, the Northern Ireland Assembly Ombudsman, who is acting in the role until an official appointment is made.

Friends of Ms Filkin have indicated that she would be interested in taking up a fresh enforcement role after her contract ends in February.

Backbench MPs rallied to her defence in September after she was snubbed by the House of Commons authorities and told to reapply for her own job. Senior Government figures were worried that she enforced the rules on MPs' behaviour too strictly, causing severe discomfort to ministers including Keith Vaz and Geoffrey Robinson. She was also the victim of a whispering campaign among government ministers, which some MPs have described as "vindictive".

The Standards commissioner's sleaze-busting role will be downgraded in Westminster next year with Ms Filkin's successor working fewer hours and earning a lower salary. She had been earning £76,000 a year.

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