Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Watchdog Reprimands 24 MPs for Failing to Register [Pounds Sterling]250,000 Gifts

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Watchdog Reprimands 24 MPs for Failing to Register [Pounds Sterling]250,000 Gifts

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH

A STRING of senior MPs failed to register more than a quarter of amillion pounds in donations and free trips abroad, the Standard has learned.

In an unprecedented move, the Electoral Commission has reprimanded 24 Membersof Parliament for their late declaration of the gifts between October andDecember last year.

The [pounds sterling]251,000 worth of donationsto MPs including Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg and former Tory leader MichaelHowardwill fuel suspicions that all the political parties made the decision to "clearthe decks" in the wake of the "donorgate" affair.

The total sum dwarfs the [pounds sterling]100,000 that former Cabinet minister Peter Hainfailed to declare on time to the Commission.

Mr Hain's breach was deemed so serious that it was referred to Scotland Yardfor a criminal investigation and he was forced to quit earlier this year.

The law requires MPs to register gifts within a month of receiving them, butthe latest figures for 2008 show that 46 separate paymentsoften for trips overseas were not properly recorded.

Some MPs had failed to register donations stretching back as far as 2004.

It emerged yesterday that Tory mayoral candidate Boris Johnson had failed toregister a [pounds sterling]25,000 gift from a tax exile.

But the full figures show that others who broke the rules include formerCabinet minister Alan Milburn, shadow universities secretary David Willetts andParliamentary Labour Party chairman Tony Lloyd.

All of them have been reprimanded with individual letters from the ElectoralCommission. The watchdog's chief executive Peter Wardle has warned all partiesthat late declarations are "unacceptable" and is demanding stronger powers todeal with them.

Two of the MPs who have been most vociferious in their criticism of other MPsfor breaching the rules, Labour's John Mann and Welsh nationalist leader ElfynLlwyd, also failed to register gifts on time. …

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