Nadine Dorries - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents

61.  Nadine Dorries MP: Schedule of overnight stays from 1 February 2007 (Revised version)

Nights spent at Cotswold home and at her [constituency] home

On 26 June 2009, the Daily Telegraph reported that Ms Dorries had "admitted" that she only spends spare weekends and holidays away from her designated second home in her constituency and that her youngest daughter and pet dogs live at the property.

On 27 July 2009, Ms Dorries told me that she spent approximately 150 nights per year in her constituency home and gave no figure for the number of nights spent in her Cotswold home.

On 8 October 2009, Ms Dorries provided more detailed statistics on her pattern of overnight stays. The information relating to the period in question was:
Financial Year Cotswold home*[Constituency] home LondonElsewhere Total
2006-07208 111+ 45364
2007-08222 98+ 45365
2008-09199 121+ 45365

*Addresses in Stratford-upon-Avon from January 2007. Until January 2007, Ms Dorries' Cotswold home had been in [a village in Gloucestershire].

+ No separate figure given for nights in London.

When she provided the figures, Ms Dorries said that the night count was based on her office and personal diaries, and her daughter's diary, and she said it was "as accurate as it is possible to be". It identified considerably fewer nights in her constituency home than the 150 given in her evidence of 27 July 2009.

On 25 January 2010, Ms Dorries provided revised and extended information on her pattern of overnight stays, as follows:
Financial year Cotswold home*[Constituency] home LondonElsewhere Total
2006-07208 0112 45365
2007-08223 8910 44366
2008-09235 979 24365
2009-10 (to 25 January 2010) 21837 342 300

*Address in [second Gloucestershire village] from September 2009.

Ms Dorries said that the revised information for 2008-09 had been based on "closer examination of my 08-09 diary" and that the figures for other years had been revised to include nights she had spent in London. She had also provided figures for 2009-10.

Ms Dorries' January 2010 figures suggested all the nights she had said in October 2009 that she had spent in her constituency in 2006-07 had in fact been spent in London. She spent 9 fewer nights in her [constituency] home in 2007-08 than she suggested in her October 2009 evidence, and 24 fewer nights in 2008-09. The number of nights in her constituency home had therefore reduced still further from her original estimate of 150.

Ms Dorries also said in her letter of 25 January 2010 that the figure of 111 nights given in the 8 October 2009 figures for her constituency home in 2006-07 had been a clerical error and should have been zero. She confirmed this in her letter of 1 March 2010, and also said in that letter that in 2006-07 "there was no constituency property to claim against".

Basis of estimate: Pattern of overnight stays

On 25 January 2010, Ms Dorries said that she did not keep a record of where she slept and when, but knew she was always at her Cotswold home on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In contrast to what she had said on 8 October 2009, on 1 March 2010, Ms Dorries said it was "absolutely impossible for me to provide you with accurate assessments of where I stay and when using my diaries and my work commitments" but she could provide a pattern.

The following table gives the patterns given by Ms Dorries for her overnight stays, when the House was sitting, in her Cotswold home and her [constituency] home in her letters of 25 January 2010, 1 March 2010 and 15 June 2010 respectively:
DayLetter of 25 January 2010 Letter of 1 March 2010 Letter of 15 June 2010
Monday# Constituency or Cotswold* Constituency or Cotswold +
Tuesday# ConstituencyConstituency
Wednesday# ConstituencyConstituency
Thursday# Constituency or Cotswold ** Constituency or Cotswold
FridayCotswold CotswoldCotswold
SaturdayCotswold CotswoldCotswold
SundayCotswold CotswoldCotswold

# No information given.

* "Often" spent in Cotswold home.

** "Almost always" spent in Cotswold home.

+ Spent in Cotswold home on "the odd occasion".

The table shows that Ms Dorries spent at least 3 nights a week in her Cotswold home and at least two nights a week in her [constituency] home, with the remaining two nights being shared between both homes. Her evidence about the location of her Monday nights changed between her evidence in March 2010 and June 2010 (from "often" in the Cotswolds to "the odd occasion").

Ms Dorries said on 4 August 2009 that she now resided at the constituency property "in tandem with the Parliamentary cycle" and that "this is how I broadly estimate my nights". On 15 June 2010, Ms Dorries said that her work in Parliament is "from Monday until the last vote on a Thursday night at 6.30pm." She also said that she spent "the nights Parliament sits" in her constituency "although not every night Parliament sits, as I have previously explained".

The typical pattern of nights which Ms Dorries has given for the nights spent by her in her constituency home when Parliament is sitting has been compared with the pattern of sittings of the House over the period from 1 February 2007 to 25 January 2010. On the basis of the pattern described by Ms Dorries, this would suggest the following approximate number of nights could have been expected:
Financial year Nights in constituency home
2009-10 (to 25 January 2010) 82*

* If allowance is made for sitting nights in October to December 2009, when Ms Dorries said in her letter of 25 January 2010 that she was excused from late-night voting and returned to her main home, this figure reduces to 56.

This pattern is broadly consistent with Ms Dorries' revised evidence of 25 January 2010 for 2007-08 and 2008-09. The domestic difficulties which Ms Dorries faced in 2006-07 (her evidence is that she did not have the time to furnish her new constituency property immediately) could explain why the normal pattern was not followed in 2006-07. For 2009-10, it suggests that, before any allowance is made for the period when she was excused late-night voting, she would have been expected to have spent twice as many nights in her constituency home in 2009-10 than her January estimate. It is still considerably more than her estimate when allowance is made for this (56 nights as against 37).

As to where she spends her weekends and recesses, Ms Dorries has consistently said that her weekends and recesses (apart from holidays) were spent in her Cotswold home.

Evidence from third parties

Cotswold neighbour [Stratford-upon-Avon]—11 June 2010

The pattern of nights given by Ms Dorries' Cotswold neighbour in his evidence of 11 June is summarised in the table below:
Day Cotswold neighbour's evidence of 11 June
Monday Constituency or Cotswolds+
Tuesday Constituency
Wednesday Constituency or Cotswolds +
Thursday Cotswolds
Friday Cotswolds
Saturday Cotswolds
Sunday Cotswolds

+ Usually [constituency] home but sometimes Cotswold home.

The Cotswold neighbour said that he "never" did anything over the weekend or during school holidays, and in the summer was not needed until October.

Neighbour 1 [constituency house]—22 January, 18 February, 9 June and 24 June 2010

Immediate neighbour. [Constituency property] was Ms Dorries' family home where she lived with her daughters and the family pets. He believed that she spent 80% of her time there, including weekdays, weekends and school and university breaks, with the exception of 4 to 6 weeks during the summer recess when some or all of them went abroad, but he "cannot possibly quantify" the exact number of days or nights. This evidence would suggest that Ms Dorries spent at least 5 nights a week in her [constituency] house, including weekends and relevant recesses.

Neighbour 2 [constituency house]—23 January and 9 February 2010

Near neighbour. Only occasionally saw Ms Dorries going in and out of house, or car parked there. Car seen there most often on a Friday morning and occasionally during the week. Estimated Ms Dorries' presence in [constituency home] at 15% of the week and 10% of a year. This evidence would suggest Ms Dorries spent up to about 1 night a week in her constituency home.

Neighbour 3 [constituency house]—25 January and 17 February 2010

Immediate neighbour. Ms Dorries was never there at weekends, but often during the day on a Friday. Ms Dorries tended to be there midweek, often arriving late at night. Often arrived at house on a Monday morning, with a bag, but sometimes Tuesday. Not there at all July to October. Does not see her often, but when he does it was usually on a Monday morning, Friday day, or late on a weeknight. Often brought the dog and sometimes her daughter.

Neighbour 4 [constituency house]—15 March and 19 March 2010

Near neighbour. Had "personally seen" Ms Dorries "on a maximum of 20 occasions over the last two years". Was "aware that she spends the weekends and holidays elsewhere". Believed his 20 day estimate was "reliable", but was "unable to specify in any great detail the length of time spent by Ms Dorries on each occasion".

Neighbour 5 [constituency house]—18 March 2010

Near neighbour. Believed Ms Dorries stayed at constituency house on some weekday nights. She was not around for long periods of time including weekends, which [he] believed included recesses.

Family doctor (Cotswolds)—26 January 2010

Family have remained patients of his [Cotswold] practice. Sees Ms Dorries and family either in his practice or out and about on a regular basis. Can say "with certainty" that their lives are very much based in and around the area. Cannot provide numbers, but believes on the basis of personal knowledge that it seems "very unlikely" that Ms Dorries has spent the majority of her time in any other area since 2005.

The evidence from all but one of the witnesses from Ms Dorries' constituency is broadly consistent with her own evidence about her pattern of overnight stays, although most witnesses understate Ms Dorries' overnight stays in the constituency home compared to her own evidence. One neighbour in [the constituency] gives different evidence suggesting she spends many more nights in the constituency.

The evidence of the two witnesses in the Cotswolds is broadly in line with Ms Dorries' own evidence about her overnight stays in her home there, although her Cotswold neighbour has in some respects a different pattern of nights in her Cotswold home from the pattern offered by Ms Dorries.

Points to be resolved

Whether the Daily Telegraph report of 26 June 2009 is an accurate report of statements you made and, if so, why you spoke as you did?

Why your estimates of your overnight stays changed from July 2009 to January 2010?

Whether you consider that the pattern of your overnight stays which you gave me on 25 January 2010, 1 March 2010 and 15 June 2010 is sufficiently consistent with the statistics you gave me in your letter of 25 January 2010 that, subject to your answer to point 4 below, and to confirming that your constituency home was not available to you in 2006-07 because you could not find the time to furnish it immediately, those figures should be accepted as the best assessments you can make of your overnight stays in each of the relevant years?

Why the number of nights you said on 25 January 2010 that you had spent in your constituency home in 2009-10 is much smaller than the number predicted from your pattern of use of that home and the sittings pattern of the House?

7 July 2010

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Prepared 21 October 2010