Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was dragged into the MPs’ sleaze row last night for allegedly using his Commons office for party political campaigning.
He faced claims that he may have broken the MPs’ code of conduct by using his taxpayer-funded office for ‘Call Keir’ Zoom calls.
The Labour leader was pictured in his Westminster HQ launching a programme of ‘virtual public meetings’ last year.
Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer makes his opening remarks for the session at the beginning of the first “Call Keir” online meeting
According to party supporters, that first event, in spring 2020, was followed by a second ‘Call Keir’ meeting in the Labour leader’s office in October last year.
The programme of hour-long Zoom meetings was advertised on the Labour Party website as events where ‘Keir Starmer will listen to and answer questions from the public’.
However, the Commons code of conduct states that ‘Members shall ensure that their use of public resources is always in support of their parliamentary duties’.
Last night, Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers will be angry that facilities they have funded are being used for party political purposes.
Politicians need to remember that they serve at the electorate’s pleasure and should not abuse voters’ and taxpayers’ trust.
The rules must apply equally to all members, regardless of rank, and if broken appropriate punishments should be handed down.’
But Labour stressed that the first event was held at the height of the original Covid lockdown in 2020, and said: ‘There have been no rules broken. Engaging with the public is a fundamental part of leading Her Majesty’s Opposition.’ke
Last week, barrister Sir Keir faced claims that he did not take a lucrative second job at law firm Mischon de Reya in 2017 because then leader Jeremy Corbyn had told him not to. But Sir Keir’s office has insisted he himself took the decision not to take the job.
Meanwhile, Labour has accused Boris Johnson of ‘running away again’ from sleaze allegations by stifling further debate on the damning standards report that he tried to block.
Last week, barrister Sir Keir faced claims that he did not take a lucrative second job at law firm Mischon de Reya in 2017 because then leader Jeremy Corbyn had told him not to. Pictured on November 8 in the House of Commons
MPs are tomorrow expected to approve the Standards Committee report that found senior Tory Owen Paterson guilty of paid advocacy and called for Mr Paterson, who has now quit as an MP, to be suspended from the House for 30 days.
The move would complete the embarrassing U-turn for Mr Johnson after his bid to block the Paterson report collapsed ten days ago.
But Labour protested that the move was scheduled for the very end of proceedings tomorrow with probably no time for debate.
Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said Mr Johnson was ‘running away again’ from the row.