John Whittingdale is MPs' favourite to set up new conduct watchdog
The man to raise standards? With a soft porn star ex-lover, John Whittingdale is MPs’ favourite to set up new conduct watchdog
- Former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale to devise new MP standards system
- Mr Whittingdale had a two-year relationship with a former soft porn star
- He will chair the committee thanks to wording of a Parliamentary amendment
John Whittingdale has been brought in by Boris Johnson to devise a new MPs’ standards system – even though he has fallen foul of the process himself.
The former Culture Secretary will chair a committee investigating ways to bring in an appeals process when MPs are accused of breaking Commons rules.
The decision is controversial because in 2016 he was reprimanded by the standards commissioner at the time, Kathryn Hudson, for breaking the rules by failing to register a visit to the MTV Europe awards with his then girlfriend, a dominatrix sex worker, within the 28-day time limit set by the Commons.
And it later emerged that Mr Whittingdale had also had a two-year relationship with a former soft porn star, Stephanie Hudson, who claimed he showed her confidential papers at his constituency home.
The former Culture Secretary will chair a committee investigating ways to bring in an appeals process when MPs are accused of breaking Commons rules
At the time Mr Whittingdale refused to discuss his relationship with the married ex-Page 3 model, while a source close to him insisted she ‘did not have access to Government papers’.
Mr Whittingdale will chair the new committee thanks to the wording of a Parliamentary amendment yesterday – even though Commons committee chairmen are usually elected by other MPs.
The committee will operate for three months and will look at the standards system to see if it could be made ‘fairer’.
This could include the establishment of an appeals process for MPs found to have broken Commons rules. It will also consider if Owen Paterson’s case needs to be reviewed.
However, opposition parties said they would boycott the committee. The plan was for it to be made up of five Tory MPs including Mr Whittingdale – who would have the casting vote – three Labour and one SNP MP.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said: ‘It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.
This could include the establishment of an appeals process for MPs found to have broken Commons rules. It will also consider if Owen Paterson’s case needs to be reviewed. Mr Paterson is pictured above
‘The Labour Party won’t have anything to do with this complete and utter sham process.’
Mr Whittingdale entered Parliament in 1992 and was Culture Secretary under David Cameron. Most recently he was media minister under Mr Johnson but lost his job in the recent reshuffle. He also used to be the boss of Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie – she was his special adviser when he was Culture Secretary.
In 2016 he was investigated by the standards commissioner after he did not declare a £1,500 trip to the MTV Europe awards in Amsterdam in 2013 with his then girlfriend, the dominatrix.
Mr Whittingdale said he had met the dominatrix on a dating website, and had ended the seven-month relationship after he learned from a national newspaper that she was a sex worker.
Mrs Hudson, the commissioner, said in her report that his failure to declare the MTV trip was a ‘clear breach’ of the rules. Mr Whittingdale apologised.
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