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Tue, 11 August 2020

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Tory MP Marcus Fysh ordered to apologise to Commons for rule breach and rapped for ‘patronising’ behaviour during inquiry

Tory MP Marcus Fysh ordered to apologise to Commons for rule breach and rapped for ‘patronising’ behaviour during inquiry

Tory MP Marcus Fysh will have to apologise in the House of Commons (Parliament.UK)

3 min read

A Conservative MP has been strongly rebuked for breaching the code of conduct by failing to properly register several company directorships.

Marcus Fysh was also reprimanded for his "deprecatory" and "patronising" behaviour during the investigation into the matter by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

The member for Yeovil will now have to apologise to his fellow MPs on the floor of the House of Commons.

The matter related to a number of unpaid directorships in investment firms, for which he did not update the register of members' interests properly or declare to two select committees when he joined them. 

It was first reported on by the magazine Private Eye in September 2018, leading the Labour MP Ben Bradshaw to write to the Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone, who then opened an inquiry.

She concluded Mr Fysh had breached the code of conduct for MPs in three respects, and wrote to Mr Fysh in April 2019 to say she was prepared to resolve the inquiry through the rectification procedure.

But he did not accept two of her conclusions, and argued he had been treated unfairly, meaning the matter was sent to the Committee on Standards to deal with.

Mr Fysh said of Ms Stone: “She has a right to say what she wants to say, but that does not mean it is correct in either its appreciation of the legal and normative context or indeed the explicit guidance given in the rules. 

“In this case, I think she is just not correct in making this assumption and she has not provided any objective justification for her position.”

In his evidence he accepted he was late in registering changes to the companies he had shareholdings in but argued MPs have discretion over whether they reveal such directorships as they “are not capable of having any influence on what I might say or do as a member, have not done so and could not reasonably be perceived to be at risk of doing so”. 

But the Standards Committee, made up of MPs from across the parties as well as lay members from the public, upheld the Commissioner’s findings.

And in its report it said: “Mr Fysh’s deprecatory and, at points, patronising tone towards the Commissioner and the Registrar was unacceptable, as were his unfounded questions about their objectivity. 

“At times, he appeared to question the Commissioner’s right to adjudicate on these matters, thereby falling short of full cooperation.”

And it also ruled there were “unnecessary delays to the Commissioner’s inquiry because Mr Fysh did not respond to requests in a timely manner”.

It ruled the MP must apologise to the commissioner and registrar in writing, and that he should "make an apology on the floor of the House for both the non-registrations and non-declarations by means of a personal statement".

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