Simon Danczuk - Committee on Standards Contents

Appendix: Memorandum from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards—Complaint against Mr Simon Danczuk


1) This memorandum reports on my investigation into a complaint that Mr Simon Danczuk MP had failed to register in the Register of Members' Financial Interests, within the 28 days determined by the House, receipt of remuneration in connection with the publication and serialisation of a book, Smile for the Camera. Since I began my investigation into that complaint Mr Danczuk has made 22 further registrations, of which 13 were also made outside the timescales required by the House. While Mr Danczuk has apologised for these late registrations, in light of the number and value of the late registrations (£19,894 out of a total of £24,479.39 registered), the matter is brought to the Standards Committee for their consideration.


2) On 24 October 2014 I received a letter from Mr Paul Turner-Mitchell concerning Mr Danczuk.[2] He asked me to investigate Mr Danczuk's failure to register remuneration allegedly received in connection with the publication, and serialisation, of a book Mr Danczuk had co­authored entitled Smile for the Camera.

3) Before I initiate an inquiry I consider whether there is sufficient evidence to justify an investigation into whether the named Member may have breached the Code of Conduct as alleged. In this case, the facts were that Mr Danczuk was named as the co-author of the publication cited by Mr Turner-Mitchell and excerpts from the book had appeared in a national newspaper during the spring of 2014. At the time I received the complaint Mr Danczuk's register entry did not include any payments in connection with these publications. I therefore considered that there was sufficient evidence to justify an inquiry and I initiated it on 30 October 2014. I wrote to Mr Danczuk on that date.[3]


4) The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament approved by the House on 12 March 2012 provides in paragraph 13 as follows:

"Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. They shall always be open and frank in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its Committees, and in any communications with Ministers, Members, public officials or public office holders."

5) The rules relating to the registration of Members' interests are set out in Chapter 1 of the Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of Members. Chapter 1 of the Guide identifies the categories of registrable interest. In the 2009 Guide, which is still current, Category 2 defines Remunerated employment, office, profession, etc. as follows:

"Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation (apart from membership of the House or ministerial office) which is remunerated or in which the Member has any financial interest…. "

6) Paragraph 24 of the Guide says:

"All employment outside the House and any sources of remuneration which do not fall clearly within any other Category should be registered here. Members must register under this category the precise amount of each individual payment made, the nature of the work carried on in return for that payment, the number of hours worked during the period to which that payment relates and (except where disclosure of the information would be contrary to any legal or established professional duty of privacy or confidentiality) the name and address of the person, organisation or company making that payment."


7) In the course of my inquiry I have considered evidence from Mr Danczuk and from the Registrar of Members' Financial Interests.


8) Mr Danczuk wrote to me on 18 November 2014.[4] He said that he had been working on his registration when he received my letter. He said that he had since registered all the monies received in connection with Smile for the Camera. He listed three payments from Biteback Publishing, and one from DMGT PLC, which he had registered on 10 and 5 November 2014 respectively. Mr Danczuk apologised "for the delay in making the registration". He also said that, if he remembered correctly, he or one of his team had spoken with the Registrar about advance fees some months earlier and that, more recently, he had emailed the Registrar to say that he had not yet registered some payments relating to the book but he would do so shortly.

9) Having received Mr Danczuk's reply, I consulted the Registrar and, in the light of her response and my own research into the volume of newspaper articles published under Mr Danczuk's name, I asked Mr Danczuk some further questions, requesting him to respond by 9 January 2015.[5] I asked him about the writing and subsequent serialisation of Smile for the Camera, his recent registration of Danczuk Media Ltd, and his office systems for ensuring timely registrations of financial interests. Since I had noticed that in previous years Mr Danczuk had updated his Register entry much more frequently, and I had identified some forty articles with his by-line, which had been published during the previous year, I also asked about payments for other media articles he had written in the last 12 months.

10) I sent Mr Danczuk a reminder on 12 January.[6] On 14 January Mr Danczuk asked me to extend the deadline for a response to 23 January 2015. On 29 January, following telephone exchanges between our offices, Mr Danczuk responded to me by email.[7] He apologised for the delay in replying and explained that 90% of the book had been written and produced by the co-author. Mr Danczuk also said that he had attributed the hours he contributed across the payments, and recognised that this might not have been correct.

11) Mr Danczuk explained that Danczuk Media had been set up by his wife and himself to "take care of media work" and said that if any payment is received "I do, of course declare them to the Registrar". He said that he had not ensured that effective systems had been put in place in order to register his financial interests and explained the reasons for this and his plan to nominate a member of his Rochdale office to take responsibility for registration in the future. In relation to the other media articles, Mr Danczuk said "I am sure I have registered those." He concluded, "finally, it is important to note that is has never been my intention not to declare any payments I have received, it is simply down to poor administrative systems and my failure to prioritise registration over other aspects of my work."

12) I wrote to Mr Danczuk on 2 February confirming arrangements for an interview on 10 February and sending an analysis of his registration history over the past year for him to check the factual accuracy. [8] I said that I would like to use the meeting to gain a better understanding of the context of the payments and of his administrative arrangements.

13) I interviewed Mr Danczuk on 10 February and recorded that interview.[9] He explained in some detail the co-authorship of Smile for the Camera and subsequent newspaper articles. Payment is split equally between himself and his co-author and the relevant amounts paid separately to each of them as part of the contractual arrangements. He explained that he employs his co-author three days per week at his constituency office. His co-author spends other days working on publications. He acknowledged that it was very hard to be clear about when precisely knowledge that informed the book had been acquired. Although his co-author is not based in London he does have a parliamentary pass.

14) I asked Mr Danczuk whether his register entry was now up to date as there had been no further entries since 24 December. He said that it was not, as he had received some payments since his last registration - and that he would send through additional entries by the end of that week. I asked him about his administrative arrangements and he said, "I think that's the crux of my problem really, which is that I took that job on myself and it's because I don't, and I should, prioritise it but I don't prioritise it. I prioritise other work. I am not particularly…. I don't particularly enjoy administration. Not that I don't see the purpose of it. I completely understand the logic and the importance of declaring such interests. But yes, it falls between two stools and previously, I had a guy that stayed on top of it. So that's been one of the problems really". And later, "This is one of the problems for me, I don't know where to look for the Register, on the internet. It might sound daft, but it looks complex to me so that when I google Member, Register of Members' Interests and stuff, you can end up… it seems to take me quite a long time, which I find quite frustrating." We discussed ways in which he might resolve this problem but as yet the necessary actions have not been taken. Mr Danczuk told me that his difficulties in administration have also caused problems for him with IPSA when a bill was lost.

15) Mr Danczuk had already apologised in correspondence for his failures to register but also said at interview, "I'm sorry that I've put you to all this trouble. I should have been on top of it, and I am apologetic for it. I should have been on top of it. There's no doubt about that".


16) I wrote to the Registrar on 24 November to request information and on 26 November 2014 she replied. [10] & [11].The first discussion of Mr Danczuk's book appeared to have happened on 16­18 December 2013 in an email exchange with one of Mr Danczuk's staff.[12] The Registrar told me that on 16 December 2013 she had been advised in an email that Mr Danczuk was "under contract" to Biteback Publishing for a book, but she was given no further details. On 18 December 2013, in her reply, she had advised that any payment from the publishers needed to be registered within 28 days of receipt, together with the hours worked. She also recommended registering the contract, if Mr Danczuk had one. The Registrar told me that Mr Danczuk's member of staff had told her at that time that the Member was not aware that he had to disclose income from the book and that the income would depend on sales.

17) The Registrar told me that she received no further information and no Register entry was made. She said that in April 2014 Mr Danczuk had registered hospitality he and his wife had received at the Grand National. The next email which the Registrar received from Mr Danczuk was dated 23 October 2014, when his office notified her that Mr Danczuk was "in the process of registering a number of entries concerning newspaper articles he [had] written". They said the Registrar could expect to receive the new registrations the following week. On 3 November 2014 (i.e. after this complaint had been received), one of Mr Danczuk's staff had submitted a late registration relating to hospitality received by Mr Danczuk at the Chelsea Flower Show, followed on 5 November by more registrations, relating to the publication of his book and other matters. She told me that the member of staff had said on 3 November the delay was due to his own oversight, not the Member's; and on 5 November 2014 Mr Danczuk had apologised for the delay. Further amendments followed.

18) The Registrar told me that six items and one update in Mr Danczuk's Register entry were recorded outside the 28-day time-limit agreed by the House, with the oldest being 14 months late. She said that her normal practice, where a Member has made a number of late entries, is to ask about the circumstances and to seek an assurance that measures to prevent a recurrence had been put in place. However, since I was already inquiring into Mr Danczuk's Register entry, she had not pursued the matter on this occasion.


19) Mr Danczuk co-authored a book about Cyril Smith entitled Smile for the Camera, which was published in April 2014. Excerpts from the book appeared in a national newspaper around the same time.

20) Mr Danczuk received payments from Biteback Publishing in connection with Smile for the Camera in August 2013, and in March and April 2014. He received a payment from DMGT on 11 July 2014 for the serialisation.

21) In December 2013 Mr Danczuk's office notified the Registrar that Mr Danczuk was under contract to Biteback Publications for a book. She advised by email that Mr Danczuk's contract with Biteback Publishing and payments associated with it required registration.

22) When I received the complaint on 24 October, Mr Danczuk's entry in the Register contained just one item; hospitality received in April 2014 at the Grand National. He had not registered receipt of any registrable benefits between 25 April and 3 November 2014.

23) Mr Danczuk did not send his additional entries for registration by 14 February as agreed. They were received on 20 February by which time two entries which could have been submitted on time had become late.

24) Since I notified Mr Danczuk of the complaint on 30 October 2014, he has made 22 additional registrations, of which five were in respect of remuneration paid in connection with the publication and serialisation of Smile for the Camera. The entries are listed below.
Registration date Date of receipt Item Timing Due for registration before 30.10.14? Late and due for registration after 30.10.14[13]
125 April 2014 5 April 2014£800 Grand National On time
23 November 2014 20 May 2014£1,404 Chelsea Flower Show LateYes
35 November 2014 11 July 2014£12,915 for excerpts from book LateYes
47 November 2014 September 2014Update on shareholdings in Danczuk Delicatessen Ltd LateYes
5 October 2014 (no day given) Shareholdings in Danczuk Media Ltd Not known
613 November 2014 23 October 2014£350 for training NHS execs On time
718 November 2014 14 November 2014£350 for article On time
810 November 2014 August 2013£750 for book LateYes
9 March 2014£750 for book LateYes
10 April 2014£750 for book LateYes
1124 December 2014 7 December 2014£1,905.39 for book On time
12 29 October 2014£350 for article Late Yes
13 1 December 2014£250 for article On time
14 3 October 2014£300 for article Late Yes
15 2 October 2014£142.50 for article Late Yes
16 10 November 2014£207.50 for article Late Yes
17 30 July 2014£125 for article LateYes
18 3 December 2014£400 for article On time
1920 February 2015 21 January 2015£150 for article Late Yes
20 23 January 2015£2,050 for an option on a drama relating to a co-authored book Late Yes
21 2 February 2015£205 for a broadcast interview On time
22 4 February 2015£125 for article On time
23 13 February 2013£200 for article On time


25) While the number of register entries involved in this case is large, as is the sum of money involved, the analysis of the issues is a relatively straightforward matter. I originally accepted for investigation an allegation that Mr Danczuk had failed to register a significant payment for writing a book which he had co-authored. However, it quickly became clear that during the year 2014-15 Mr Danczuk had failed to register 13 other payments received. These were registered, many of them late, during the course of my investigation. I have therefore considered them alongside the original complaint. I have not considered it necessary to look back beyond April 2014 at which time Mr Danczuk's financial affairs were much simpler.

26) There is provision within the current procedures for the Commissioner to rectify failures to register interests, without a formal memorandum to the Committee, where the interest is minor or the failure inadvertent. However, the number of late registrations and the sums involved mean that this is not appropriate to Mr Danczuk's situation. In reaching that conclusion, I was mindful also of the importance the Committee attaches to prompt and full registration.

27) At the time when the complaint was made Mr Danczuk had registered one item in the first seven months of the year. During the course of my inquiries he has registered a further 22 items, 13 of which were late. Mr Danczuk has made 6 late registrations since I drew this matter to his attention, 2 of these more than a month late. The total amount of money involved was £19,894. Repeated failures to make timely registrations add up to a serious matter. While Mr Danczuk has given me an assurance that he will take steps to improve the timeliness of his registrations, at the time of drafting this memorandum I am not confident that he has taken sufficient action to avoid similar lapses in future.

28) I consider the payments made to Mr Danczuk by Biteback Publishing and DMGT PLC in connection with Smile for the Camera fell to be registered under Category 2 'Remunerated employment, office, profession, etc.' Although Mr Danczuk may initially have been unaware that royalty and other payments received for his book required registration, as a member of his staff suggested in December 2013, the Registrar set out the House's requirement clearly in her email to Mr Danczuk of 18 December 2013. Mr Danczuk therefore could have been expected to know the requirements after this.

29) Although Mr Danczuk had received his first payment of £750 in connection with the publication of Smile for the Camera in August 2013 some four months previously, he did not register it at this point. By the time he registered that payment in November 2014, alongside further payments of £750 in March and April 2014, it was 14 months late. The two subsequent payments were respectively seven and six months late. Mr Danczuk has now assured me that he has registered all the payments he has received so far in respect of his book, though he may receive more in the future. He has not been able to quantify the number of hours he has worked in connection with publication but he is clear that the bulk of the work was undertaken by his co-author.

30) Mr Danczuk does not dispute that the Rules of the House required registration of these payments and, in November 2014 and again at his meeting with me, he apologised for his late registrations. I accept his evidence that he was not intending to conceal his income.

31) In summary Mr Danczuk's failure to register his interests in a timely fashion this year appears to have stemmed from his admitted inability to cope with the necessary administration, the loss of a good administrator who had previously undertaken this work, and the failure to delegate this work appropriately to other staff or to accept his own responsibility to ensure it was done. This situation was then exacerbated by an increase in the number of registrations required as a result of the high profile he has acquired in the last year. While I do not believe that Mr Danczuk deliberately failed to register his interests, the resulting situation is entirely unacceptable. It has continued during my investigation and as yet I have no evidence that Mr Danczuk has put in place any administrative system which will ensure that it does not.

32) This inquiry has raised another issue which is not the subject of the complaint. Mr Danczuk's co-author, who works for Mr Danczuk and is based in his constituency, has a House of Commons pass. The Rules require that employees in this position should register "Any occupation or employment for which they receive over £330 from the same source in the course of a calendar year, if that occupation or employment is in any way advantaged by the privileged access to Parliament afforded by their pass." The payments have not been registered. I have therefore asked the Registrar to inquire whether the staff member had considered registering this payment, and to report the outcome to me.


33) The breaches identified in the course of my investigation are more extensive than those raised in the original complaint from Mr Turner-Mitchell. Since I began my investigation Mr Danczuk has continued to make late registrations, which with closer attention might have been avoided. As I have explained above, I am able to rectify failures to register interests, without a formal memorandum to the Committee, where the interest is minor or the failure inadvertent. However, the number of late registrations and the sums involved meant that this was not appropriate in this case, even though Mr Danczuk has acknowledged, and apologised for, his breaches of the rules. I am also not confident that he has taken the necessary remedial steps. It is for this reason that with regret I am bringing an otherwise straightforward matter to the attention of the Committee. I have also asked the Registrar, if Mr Danczuk is re-elected, to report to me in October 2015 on his registration practices.

3 March 2015   Kathryn Hudson

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Prepared 19 March 2015