Labour MP Steve McCabe demands investigation on Jeremy Hunt

4 May 2012

Steve McCabeSteve McCabe, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Sir John Lyon, asking him to investigate a possible failure by Jeremy Hunt to properly register a financial interest.

Edward Vaizey recorded a number of sponsorships, worth a total of £27,418.31 from eight creative industry organisations, recording in the Register of Interests that each of these donations was for a “networking event to enable the Conservative frontbench team (Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt) to meet sector leaders from the arts and creative industries”.

Yet although Mr Vaizey says that Mr Hunt was a beneficiary of these donations, Mr Hunt did not declare any of them in his own entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The full text of the letter can be found below:

Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

cc Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, House of Commons

Dear Sir John,

I wish to bring to your attention, and ask you to investigate, a possible failure by a Member of Parliament properly to register a financial interest.

In the Register published on 9 April 2010, available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/100412/memi27.htm, Mr Edward Vaizey recorded a number of sponsorships, worth a total of £27,418.31. These were from M&C Saatchi (£4,563.50). Conde Nast Publications (£1,600), DDB UK (£1,473.81), British Sky Broadcasting Group (£3,800), The Creative Coalition (£3,800), Groucho Club Limited (£1,435), Bonhams (£1,500), British Fashion Council (£2,165) and Digital Radio Development Bureau Ltd (£7,081). Mr Vaizey recorded in the Register that each of these donations was for a “networking event to enable the Conservative frontbench team (Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt) to meet sector leaders from the arts and creative industries”.

Yet although Mr Vaizey says that Mr Hunt was a beneficiary of these donations, Mr Hunt did not declare any of them in his own entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/100412/memi13.htm, or in subsequent entries in the Register. The Parliamentary Code of Conduct states that “it is the responsibility of Members to notify changes in their registrable interests within four weeks of each change occurring”.

The Parliamentary Code of Conduct goes on to state that “Any Member who has a registrable interest which has not at the time been registered, shall not undertake any action, speech or proceeding of the House (except voting) to which the registration would be relevant until he or she has notified the Commissioner of that interest”. Mr Hunt was, at the time that the donations were given, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport; since May 2010 he has been Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport. He has spoken frequently in the House on matters of interest to the various organisations from the arts and creative industries from which he and Mr Vaizey received these donations, and yet he has never declared them in the Register.

In particular, between December 2010 and July 2011 Mr Hunt was responsible for ruling on News Corporation’s bid to purchase BSkyB, and has spoken about this in the House on a number of occasions both during this period and subsequently. He has not declared in the Register that in 2009 he had benefited from sponsorship worth £3,800 from British Sky Broadcasting Ltd.

I would be grateful if you could investigate whether Mr Hunt made a false or misleading registration of his financial interests, and whether a breach of the Parliamentary rules has occurred.

Yours sincerely,

Steve McCabe MP