Labour MP Jess Phillips comes under fire for breaking rules over declaring outside earnings
A senior Labour MP has been reprimanded by the sleaze watchdog for repeatedly breaking rules on declaring earnings outside Parliament.
Jess Phillips was accused by the standards commissioner of having a ‘longstanding inattention to administrative detail’. An investigation found she was late registering private income 17 times since the last election.
The payments – totalling tens of thousands of pounds – covered articles, speeches and books. She also failed to declare £1,500 for appearing on BBC 1’s Have I Got News For You.
Miss Phillips was told to apologise, and warned she only narrowly avoided more serious punishment. However, standards commissioner Kathryn Stone said ‘there was no deliberate attempt to mislead’.
Ms Stone said: ‘This has been a finely balanced decision. Given the number and total value of the registrations involved, I gave serious consideration to referring the matter to the Committee on Standards for sanction.’
Jess Phillips MP guest hosts Episode 9 Have I Got News for You Series 62 for which she registered her £15,000 fee for a day late
She added: ‘I found that, based on the information available to me, the breaches were inadvertent, insofar as they were the result of a longstanding inattention to administrative detail on the part of Ms Phillips and that there was no deliberate attempt to mislead.’
The watchdog looked back at all of Ms Phillips’ entries in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests since December 2019 after a complaint was made that she was routinely failing to declare income on time.
She found a total of 17 out of 32 declarations had been made outside the 28-day deadline, breaching the Code of Conduct for MPs.
They included a £16,572 payment from Simon and Schuster for a book that was logged 39 days late, a payment from the Independent newspaper for two columns that was 103 days late and £15,000 for presenting Have I Got News For You a day late.
Separately she completely forgot to register a £1,500 payment for appearing as a guest on the show.
Standards commissioner Kathryn Stone said ‘there was no deliberate attempt to mislead’ and Ms Phillips has now put reminders in her diary every 15 days
Ms Phillips told the Commissioner: ‘I appreciate your assertion that this was not an attempt to mislead but instead failures on my part to act in a timely manner with my administration.
‘Regardless of the motivation however the result is the same and that is that I breached the rules that are set out and for this I am truly sorry.’
She said that ‘in order to rectify failures of admin on my part’, she had put reminders in her diary every 15 days to register any new interests.