MPs Plot against Sleaze Watchdog ; Elizabeth Filkin, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Has Raised Hackles among Politicians for Her Zealous Approach to the Job

By Jo Dillon Political Correspondent | The Independent (London, England), December 1, 2000 | Go to article overview
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MPs Plot against Sleaze Watchdog ; Elizabeth Filkin, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Has Raised Hackles among Politicians for Her Zealous Approach to the Job


Jo Dillon Political Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)


MPs PLAN to demand an investigation into the way the sleaze watchdog, Elizabeth Filkin, conducts her inquiries.

Ms Filkin, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, has raised hackles at Westminster for the way she goes about making sure MPs play by the rules. Her rigorous inquiries and the reports, sometimes damning, into MPs' activities and business interests have caused growing bitterness among politicians.

Now some are mounting a behind-the-scenes campaign to oust Ms Filkin and are threatening a "day of reckoning".

One Labour MP, who did not wish to be named, said a number of colleagues had agreed to stop referring complaints to Ms Filkin for fear that she was becoming "too powerful". Some MPs, who, he admitted, had used the office of the Commissioner for Standards for "political point-scoring," were now shying away after seeing colleagues and friends "smeared" even when they had done nothing wrong.

Another claimed there were plans to refuse to co-operate with her inquiries, to brand her "unaccountable" and to label her findings "inconsistent".

One senior government source said: "The way she conducts her inquiries and the fact that she is not accountable is just astonishing. She will investigate any complaint regardless of how spurious it is. She's a cross between Kenneth Starr and Miss Marple. She wants to find sleaze round every corner even when there isn't any and is dragging MPs' reputations through the mud."

Although none of her critics are prepared to go on the record yet, Ms Filkin is understood to be aware that certain MPs are criticising her in private. She is said to be taking the attitude that it "comes with the territory" and sees it as a product of the job she has to do, which is "painful" for the MPs concerned.

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