Magazine article Public Finance

Sleaze Watchdog Urges Inquiry into Prescott's Ranch Visit

Magazine article Public Finance

Sleaze Watchdog Urges Inquiry into Prescott's Ranch Visit

Article excerpt

Sir Alistair Graham, Parliament's 'sleaze' watchdog, this week pitched into the debate over Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's visit to a US billionaire's ranch, urging the prime minister to order an inquiry into a potential breach of Whitehall rules.

Graham, the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said an inquiry was 'the best way to clear the air'.

Opposition MPs rounded on Prescott after it emerged that he had spent a weekend break at a Colorado ranch owned by Philip Anschutz, an applicant for the licence to run the UK's only 'super-casino' under consideration by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Anschutz, who has held several meetings with Prescott, owns the Millennium Dome site in London. MPs have claimed that Prescott's acceptance of his hospitality could breach the ministerial code.

Graham said the government should now invoke powers 'to ask Sir John Bourn [the government's ministerial adviser and head of the National Audit Office] to carry out an investigation. …

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