Mansfield's MP defends vote in Government sleaze row

Mansfield’s MP has defended his vote in a row over Government sleaze.

Saturday, 6th November 2021, 10:08 am

MPs were asked to vote after the Committee for Standards recommended North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson serve a 30-day suspension from the House of Commons, after he was found to have broken lobbying rules.

However, former Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom submitted an amendment to the motion of Paterson’s suspension and called for an overhaul of the disciplinary investigation procedure.

This was passed after a three-line whip effectively mandating Conservative MPs vote in favour, including Mansfield MP Ben Bradley, Ashfield MP Lee Anderson and Sherwood MP Mark Spencer, the Government’s chief whip.

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Mansfield's MP Ben Bradley outside Parliament where the vote on policing the conduct of MPs took place.

However, the decision to block the suspension and call for an overhaul was met with outrage, with the Government U-turning on their decision to do so, before Mr Paterson resigned.

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Appeal

Mr Bradley has now explained why he voted for the amendment.

He said: “Two things are clear, one is paid lobbying is wrong and the evidence suggests Mr Paterson has been involved in doing that, which should lead to punishment.

“However, the second thing is this affair has been handled very badly by various authorities, including those responsible for the investigation, who appear to have denied him the right of appeal and due process.

“So for me, I voted to ensure the process is improved and is fair in the future.

“I did not vote to let Mr Paterson off the hook. Indeed, I am fairly confident he has done wrong and a renewed investigation or appeal would still find him guilty of paid lobbying, but at least then we could be clear a proper and fair process had been followed.

“MPs don’t have a right to legal hearings, or to pursue things like unfair or constructive dismissal. This process is the only mechanism to defend yourself against allegations, so it needs to be right and robust. That doesn’t seem to have been the case here.

“Mr Paterson has now resigned and will no longer be an MP. That’s the right outcome.

“This has been a poor process badly handled all round, has done the reputation of Parliament no favours and now needs sorting to ensure a proper robust system in the future.”

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