Senior Tory MP ordered to 'apologise in writing' to Parliament over chairing African mining firm
A senior Tory MP has been ordered to “apologise in writing” to the House of Commons after failing to disclose his chairmanship of an African mining and development company.
Sir Henry Bellingham, who is running to be the next Commons Speaker, began being paid £30,000 a year by Clifton Africa in October 2018.
But he did not register it with the Parliamentary authorities in time, and he was found to have given erroneous information about it.
He also didn’t reveal he was in receipt of 3,000 shares from the firm, and was late in registering changes to his interests in four other companies.
Sir Henry, a Government trade envoy to Libya, was therefore found to have breached the code of conduct for MPs by the standards commissioner Kathryn Stone.
She said he was “unfailingly courteous” during her inquiry, sparked by an investigation by the Times in January, and did not originally plan to send the case up to the Commons’ standards committee.
But the Commissioner accused the 63-year-old MP of taking “far too long” to correct the records at Companies House, and then found he “committed a further breach of paragraph 14 of the Code”.
Sir Henry said in mitigation he “had experienced a period of ill health” this summer but he later apologised “fulsomely and unreservedly to the Committee”.
He said: “I have never been in any trouble with either the Registrar or the Commissioner before, and I very much regret what has happened in this case.
“I have always had a laser-like focus on ensuring that all my payments from outside sources have been kept up to date and declared on time.”
But the committee said the member for North West Norfolk “clearly fell short” of his obligations in this case.
It concludes its report that “although Sir Henry’s mistakes are not at the most serious end of the spectrum”, his “failure to take the necessary rectification actions over a protracted period means that a sanction imposed by the Committee is called for”.
“We recommend that Sir Henry should apologise to the House in writing, through a letter to the Committee, for his mistakes in relation to the Register and for not having taken prompt action to comply with the Commissioner’s rectification requests”, it adds.
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