Appendix 2: Letter from Sir Bob Russell
to the Committee |
I am grateful to you for taking the time to read
the Commissioner's Report. From this you will have noted that
I have not personally made a financial gain from the arrangements
for my constituency office; rather that I have made a significant
personal financial contribution to provide an office which is
fit-for-purpose at no additional cost to the public purse.
I thank the Commissioner for his Report. I recognise
that this shows there has been a Breach of the Rules, for which
I obviously apologise. That said, I hope that the Committee will
accept that I did not deliberately or knowingly do so having taken
considerable effortmore than 10 years ago!to discuss
with officials at that time precisely what was permitted.
It is clearly not helpful that official records have
largely been destroyed by the House authorities, but what evidence
exists I believe demonstrates that I acted in good faith. Nothing
was hidden. Everything was open and transparent.
I sought advice. I was given advice. I followed
I would ask you to refer to Paragraph 32 on Page
14, namely my letter dated 31st January 2002 to an
official of the Fees Office, which I feel is critical to my position.
In this I mention a meeting with her and the then Head of the
Fees Office when I quite clearly state my appreciation to them
"for confirming that the arrangements for my MP's constituency
offices comply with what is set out in the letter from (the Head
of the Fees Office) dated 22nd January."
This is the nearest we have for documentary proof
that I was given approval to proceed with the arrangements. There
is no documentary evidence to the contrary!
It is Parliament's intention that no MP should gain
a financial benefit from the receipt of public funds for his or
her constituency office. I have not done so. A narrow interpretation
of the word "interest" is, I submit, unfair in this
context when it is clearly Parliament's intention that "interest"
means "financial" or "beneficial" interest.
I believe that to draw a critical conclusion ten
years after discussions at that time is unfair and contrary to
I would therefore respectfully invite the Committee
to consider making a resolution to the effect that the MP for
Colchester acted in good faith throughout; he sought advice from
House officials at the time, from late 2001 through to the Spring
of 2002; and that all funds he received were used for the purpose
for which was intended, namely for the operating costs of his
constituency office, without any personal financial benefit to
Sir Bob Russell,
MP for Colchester
3 September 2012