Sir John Butterfill, Mr Stephen Byers, Ms Patricia Hewitt, Mr Geoff Hoon, Mr Richard Caborn and Mr Adam Ingram - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents


1  Sir John Butterfill

Introduction

19. Sir John Butterfill was the Member for Bournemouth West when he met the undercover reporter on 24 February.[13] The interview was referred to in the Sunday Times article of 21 March and parts of it were broadcast in the Dispatches programme the following evening. Sir John sought to refer himself to the Commissioner in an e-mail on 22 March and, having consulted the Committee, the Commissioner accepted the self-referral on 23 March.[14]

The Commissioner's findings

20. The Commissioner does not consider that any of the statements made by Sir John during the course of his meeting with the undercover reporter or any of the actions he took as a Member referred to in his statements were in breach of the rules of the House.[15] He has not, therefore, upheld the allegations against Sir John.

21. The Commissioner's main findings in relation to Sir John are set out below.

  • The Commissioner accepts Sir John's evidence that he did not make introductions to Ministers for paying clients when he was a Member. His offer to make such introductions once he had left the House was not a breach of the Code.[16]
  • Sir John had acted as a consultant advising on government contracts while still a Member but had not been paid for this work.[17] The Commissioner accepts Sir John's evidence that his comment that his Private Members' Bills had been pro bono was not meant to imply that other such Bills were not pro bono.[18]
  • Sir John's comments about his possible elevation to the House of Lords were "clearly unwise" and "reflected poorly on him" but they did not reach the level at which it could be held that he had brought the House into disrepute.[19]
  • Sir John used a "colourful" term to describe actions he had taken to protect constituency interests but the actions themselves were entirely appropriate.[20]
  • Other statements by Sir John to the undercover reporter referred to work which he might undertake as a former Member after the Election but there was either no suggestion or no real prospect that he would undertake such work while still an MP.[21]

22. We sent Sir John a copy of the Commissioner's findings of fact and conclusions. Sir John informed us that he did not wish to submit evidence.

Conclusion

23. The Commissioner has not upheld the allegations against Sir John Butterfill. We agree with the Commissioner that Sir John did not breach the Code or the rules, although we do consider that—like the other Members—he was unwise to agree to the meeting and we believe that some of his comments were unfortunate. We make no recommendation in this case.


13   Appendix 1, paragraph 46 Back

14   Appendix 1, paragraph 13 Back

15   Appendix 1, paragraph 667 Back

16   Appendix 1, paragraph 657 Back

17   Appendix 1, paragraph 658 Back

18   Appendix 1, paragraph 663 Back

19   Appendix 1, paragraph 659 Back

20   Appendix 1, paragraph 662 Back

21   Appendix 1, paragraphs 660, 661, 664, 665 and 666 Back


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 8 December 2010