‘It’s grotesque’: Tory MPs want taxpayers to cover legal costs for sleaze cases

'To now demand taxpayers cover costs for sleaze investigations is shameful hypocrisy.'

Boris Johnson

After raking in thousands of pounds in second jobs working for lobbying firms, Tory MPs now want you, the taxpayer, to cover legal costs for their sleaze cases.

It’s been reported that when Boris Johnson met with Tory backbenchers at the 1922 Committee, as he tried to quell anger over his handling of the Owen Paterson lobbying row, the prime minister was asked to bring in a fairer system for MPs who wish to appeal the decision of the parliamentary standards commissioner.

Under the current rules, MPs are unable to appeal against rulings by the independent watchdog.

The Times reported that at the 1922 Committee, MPs are said to have argued that it would be unfair if people were unable to properly defend themselves because they could not afford a lawyer.

It comes amid growing scrutiny over MPs second jobs and how they spend their time. It’s been revealed in recent weeks that Geoffrey Cox earned more than £800,000 while working for law firm Withers, which is representing the British Virgin Islands government in a corruption case brought by the UK government. Transport secretary Grant Shapps, who is a keen amateur pilot, has also been accused of using tax payers’ cash to support airfields challenging planning developments.

Reacting to the story Labour MP David Lammy said: “This is grotesque. Tory cuts to legal aid robbed thousands of ordinary people the ability to defend their rights and left the innocent still having to pay hefty legal bills. To now demand taxpayers cover costs for sleaze investigations is shameful hypocrisy.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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