Speaker Clears the Way for Byers Sleaze Inquiry

Article excerpt


STEPHEN Byers has a case to answer over claims that he lied to Parliament, the Speaker of the Commons ruled yesterday.

Michael Martin cleared the way for MPs to debate accusations against the former Transport Secretary today and decide whether he should face a sleaze inquiry.

They are expected to approve an investigation by the Standards and Privileges Committee into claims that Mr Byers misled MPs over when he decided to pull the plug on Railtrack.

Mr Byers has admitted 'an inadvertent error' that caused him to give 'factually inaccurate' evidence to the Transport Select Committee but claims he did not lie.

In an apology to MPs on Monday, he continued to insist that he did not have talks over the downfall of Railtrack, which left thousands of shareholders out of pocket, before July 25, 2001.

But the Tories have presented leaked documents that show Mr Byers had discussions with Tony Blair and the Rail Regulator more than a month earlier.

In a short statement to the Commons, Speaker Martin yesterday said it was not his place to rule on whether there should be a sleaze inquiry but referred the decision to MPs.

His decision was expected but it indicates that he thinks Mr Byers still has a case to answer. …