Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer found to have breached MPs' code of conduct – commissioner

Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has breached the MPs code of conduct (Image: Getty)

Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone launched an inquiry into the Labour leader in June in relation to claims about late declaration of earnings and gifts, benefits or hospitality. Sir Keir said at that time he felt absolutely confident he had not broken the MPs’ code of conduct.

But Ms Stone found the Leader of the Opposition failed to register eight interests, five more than the ones alleged in the original complaint.

She noted the “breaches were minor and/or inadvertent, and that there was no deliberate attempt to mislead”.

As a result, the watchdog decided the inquiry could be concluded by way of the “rectification” procedure, without a referral to the Committee on Standards, which happens in more serious cases.

The procedure involves publishing details and an apology on the Commons website.

looks on during the UEFA Women's Euro England 2022 Semi Final match

Sir Keir looks on during the UEFA Women’s Euro England 2022 Semi Final match (Image: Getty)

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Keir Starmer takes his responsibilities to the Register very seriously and has apologised to the Commissioner for this inadvertent error.

“He has assured the Commissioner his office processes have been reviewed to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

In the original complaint made to the commissioner, it was alleged between March 6, 2022 and May 13, 2022, Sir Keir had failed on three occasions to register income and hospitality he had accepted within the 28-day deadline set by the Commons.

The watchdog carried out a review of Sir Keir’s register entry for the last 12 months and noted four extra late entries.

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a keynote speech on the economy

Sir Keir delivers a keynote speech on the economy in Liverpool (Image: Getty)

Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

Sir Keir with Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (Image: Getty)

During the investigation, Sir Keir also told Ms Stone he was in the process of selling a plot of land for a sum which exceeded the £100,000 threshold for registration set by the House.

The Commissioner wrote in her report: “Sir Keir said he had been communicating with the Registrar of Members’ Financial Interests on this matter, and, having had the land valued in January 2022, and put the land on the market in March 2022, he was waiting for the sale to complete so he could register the correct value.

“I decided to include this matter as part of my inquiry.”

Ms Stone found Sir Keir had failed to register those eight interests and “had breached paragraph 14 of the House of Commons’ Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament”.

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Labour’s by-election vote share since 2010 (Image: Express)

She added: “I found that, based on the information available to me, the breaches were minor and/or inadvertent and there was no deliberate attempt to mislead.

“I decided therefore, the inquiry could be concluded by way of the rectification 35 procedure available to me under Standing Order No. 150.”

In a letter to the Commissioner dated June 21, Sir Keir said the late declarations were a result of an administrative error within his office, adding he took full responsibility for his register and apologised for that.

He continued: “My office and I have carried out a review of the process to ensure that this does not happen again.”

looks on from the stand prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal

Sir Keir looks on from the stand prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsena (Image: Getty)

Sir Keir received an £18,450 advance from publisher HarperCollins in April for a book he is writing which is expected to lay out his vision for Britain.

The sum, which he has pledged to donate to charitable causes, was declared a day late. Royalties for two legal books published before the lawyer became an MP were also delayed.

Sir Keir also benefited from a directors’ box for two people at Crystal Palace worth £720 when they thrashed his club Arsenal 3-0 on April 4. It was not registered until May 5.

He also received four tickets for Watford vs Arsenal worth a total of £1,416 for their March 6 match. The gift was registered on May 6.

Just Eat also gave tickets to staff for the Taste of London festival and the British Kebab awards.

The donations from the company exceeded the £300 limit for registration on October 29 but were not declared until December 23.

Sir Keir’s breach comes after the Labour leader was cleared by Durham Police of breaking COVID-19 lockdown laws.

Officers launched an investigation when a video emerged of Sir Keir drinking beer at a get-together in April 2021 during campaigning.

Sir Keir had pledged to resign if he was found to have broken the rules, but Durham Police said there was no case to answer for.

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