LETTER:MPs' misconduct: from kangaroo courts to the rule of law

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Sir: The recommendation by the Nolan Committee that there should be an independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate complaints is to be welcomed. However, to have recommended the establishment of an independent ethical committee would have given the general public much greater confidence.

Furthermore, there is a great need to bring Members of Parliament fully under the rule of law, so that a government with a small majority could not prevent legal action in the courts against any of its MPs for acts of corruption or seriously unethical conduct. By its secrecy in the conduct of the case against Riddick and Tredinnick, the Commons Privileges Committee has shown itself to be nothing short of a de facto kangaroo court, denying the defendants the full rights of defence that the High Court or a crown court would offer them and at the same time denying the public full access to the facts and to the basis of the judgements made.

At present, MPs have the privilege to make serious accusations against individuals in the House of Commons. It is important that the privilege is retained. However, abuse of the privilege should be dealt with severely by the Parliamentary Commissioner, as serious, unfounded allegations against private citizens by MPs can ruin their reputations permanently. Such victims should be afforded some redress.

Our MPs should remember that they are elected to represent us, the general public, and that working for lobbying companies is not consistent with their duties to the electorate. Most people in the UK recognise that MPs who take money from lobby companies, or any other organisation or individual, are taking bribes when they give services in return, such as asking parliamentary questions or petitioning ministers. Such corruption should be dealt with by the courts and not within the confines of the House of Commons.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN BEAVEN

Glossop, Derbyshire

12 May

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