Appendix: Memorandum from the Parliamentary
Commissioner for StandardsComplaint 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.
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
RELEVANT RULES OF THE HOUSE
4) The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament
approved by the House on 12 March 2012 provides in paragraph 13
"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
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
EVIDENCE FROM MR DANCZUK
8) Mr Danczuk wrote to me on 18 November 2014.
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.
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
10) I sent Mr Danczuk a reminder on 12 January.
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.
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
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. 
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. 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
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
. 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
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".
EVIDENCE FROM THE REGISTRAR OF MEMBERS' FINANCIAL
16) I wrote to the Registrar on 24 November
to request information and on 26 November 2014 she replied.
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.
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
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.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
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
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
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.
||Date of receipt
||Due for registration before 30.10.14?
||Late and due for registration after 30.10.14
|1||25 April 2014
||5 April 2014||£800 Grand National
|2||3 November 2014
||20 May 2014||£1,404 Chelsea Flower Show
|3||5 November 2014
||11 July 2014||£12,915 for excerpts from book
|4||7 November 2014
||September 2014||Update on shareholdings in Danczuk Delicatessen Ltd
||October 2014 (no day given)
||Shareholdings in Danczuk Media Ltd
|6||13 November 2014
||23 October 2014||£350 for training NHS execs
|7||18 November 2014
||14 November 2014||£350 for article
|8||10 November 2014
||August 2013||£750 for book
||March 2014||£750 for book
||April 2014||£750 for book
|11||24 December 2014
||7 December 2014||£1,905.39 for book
||29 October 2014||£350 for article
||1 December 2014||£250 for article
||3 October 2014||£300 for article
||2 October 2014||£142.50 for article
||10 November 2014||£207.50 for article
||30 July 2014||£125 for article
||3 December 2014||£400 for article
|19||20 February 2015
||21 January 2015||£150 for article
||23 January 2015||£2,050 for an option on a drama relating to a co-authored book
||2 February 2015||£205 for a broadcast interview
||4 February 2015||£125 for article
||13 February 2013||£200 for article
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
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
2 WE1 Back
WE 9 Back
11 WE7 Back
Date Commissioner's investigation began Back