Mr Andrew Mackay and Ms Julie Kirkbride - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents

10.  Letter to Rt Hon Andrew Mackay from the Commissioner, 14 December 2009

Thank you for your further letter of 2 December responding to mine of 23 November in which you raise again the question of the inquiry which I have instigated following separate complaints against you and Ms Julie Kirkbride MP.

I recognise your concern about going back over ground which you may already have covered in the course of Sir Thomas Legg's audit. But I do not think it would have been reasonable for me to have refused to accept on these grounds a complaint properly made to me in accordance with the procedures approved by the House. Nor do I think it would be reasonable in all the circumstances for me now to seek to abandon my inquiry, assuming it was possible under the rules of the House for me to do so.

My reasons for this conclusion are as follows. My inquiries will relate solely to the complaint and not to any other matters in relation to your or Ms Kirkbride's Additional Costs Allowance claims, which may have been considered by Sir Thomas. If I were to uphold the complaint—and I have obviously formed no view at all on that—then, unlike Sir Thomas's audit process, the Committee on Standards and Privileges and the House would have the opportunity to consider and decide if the rules have indeed been broken and, if so, what, if any, sanction to make. In that event, I believe that the Committee would want to take full account of any repayments you had made as a result of Sir Thomas's audit. The process is, therefore, different, as is the scope of the inquiry and the range of consequences.

While recognising your understandable concerns, in the light of paragraph 18 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament I do ask that you and Ms Kirkbride agree to co-operate with my inquiry and respond to my letter of 5 November. I would be most grateful for your help.

I am copying this letter to Ms Julie Kirkbride MP, since I know you have written on behalf of you both.

14 December 2009

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