Former Ipsa chief accuses MPs of 'squalid vendetta' after he is blocked from Electoral Commission job

Posted On: 
24th January 2018

The former head of the parliamentary watchdog has accused MPs of pursuing a "squalid vendetta" after he was blocked from taking up a new job.

Sir Ian Kennedy called Labour's John Spellar 'contemptible'

Sir Ian Kennedy was in line to take up a post at the Electoral Commission, but the appointment was vetoed in a Commons vote yesterday evening. 

In a letter to Commons Speaker John Bercow seen by the Huffington Post, he accuses MPs of trying to punish him for his role in cracking down on Parliament's expenses regime. 

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In a sharply-worded letter this afternoon, Sir Ian suggested he has been the victim of MPs looking for revenge.

He wrote: "IPSA which, as you know, I chaired for 7 years cleaned up the mess following the MPs’ expenses scandal. Clearly, some MPs have not forgiven me for this and seek to punish me for establishing a system which took account of the interests not only of MPs but also of taxpayers.

"I have dedicated nearly 40 years to public service, much of it in seeking to improve standards in the NHS for patients.  Some seem keen to belittle this service as being the work of what they call a “quangocrat”. Such attempts to dismiss the work of those who seek to serve the public interest outside the limelight borders on the contemptible."

And he questioned whether MPs should have the power to overrule decisions made by the Speaker's own committee. 

"Meanwhile a larger question must be addressed: should recommendations by your committee for appointments to independent bodies (Boundary Commission, IPSA, Electoral Commission) be subject to the veto of MPs pursuing a tawdry and squalid vendetta?"

As head of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Sir Ian drew the ire of many MPs for implementing what some saw as an overly-bureaucratic new system.

In yesterday's debate, Tory MP James Duddridge said the 76-year-old had not done a "good job" in his previous role, while John Spellar called him an "arch quangocrat" who had created a "dreadful, anti-elected member, vindictive attitude" at Ipsa.