The Sunday Times (7th November) is breaking a story that the Speaker of the House of Commons will tomorrow (Monday) initiate an inquiry into how complaints against MPs are dealt with in future. “If these reports are accurate, the inquiry will be chaired by a retired senior Clerk of the House of Commons” Michael Fabricant says. “It is likely to deal with an appeals process and review how such inquiries are dealt with in future.
“Whatever spin may be put on this, I believe it is a tacit criticism of the way the Paterson inquiry was handled. It was botched and unjust.
“Guilty or not – and I have no view on that, Paterson should not have had a one woman judge and jury – especially one who expressed her views in advance of the inquiry, an inquiry where witnesses were not called, and a final report which contained inaccuracies. Now that Paterson is out of the picture, perhaps this whole matter can now be examined in a cool and collected way which will lead to a just system in the House of Commons.”
The Sunday Times reports that the Speaker is expected to bring forward proposals to set up an independent review of the parliamentary standards committee. It is understood that retired clerks may be approached to lead the review after Lord Evans of Weardale, the former head of MI5 and chairman of the committee on standards in public life, was ruled out of the running. The new committee will examine proposals, thought to have the support of most MPs of all parties, to introduce an appeals process for members found to have breached the rules.