Yeovil MP has wrists slapped

This morning the House of Commons Committee on Standards published a report on Marcus Fysh, MP for Yeovil. The Committee reported on the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:

The Commissioner’s findings

MPs are required to register interests in accordance with their Code of Conduct and the Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of Members. They must record any change to their registrable interests within 28 days.

The Commissioner found that Mr Fysh acted in breach of paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct in three respects. She found that:

A registration of changes to London Wessex Ltd, Wessex Investments Proprietary Ltd and London Wessex Brands Ltd, in which Mr Fysh had registered shares, was not made within the 28 days required (the changes were registered 234, 148 and 140 days late respectively);

Mr Fysh did not register his unpaid directorships of these three companies and of two others in the Wessex Investment Proprietary Group, which later became Samfire Proprietary Ltd; and

Mr Fysh failed to declare his and his brother’s unpaid directorships to the two select committees when he joined them.

The Commissioner for Standards would usually resolve a breach of this kind through the rectification procedure – where an indication of the rectification, reached in agreement with the Member and usually including an apology, is published on the Commissioner’s website. However, Mr Fysh did not accept the Commissioner’s findings that he should have registered his unpaid directorships and declared them to the two select committees. This meant that she was unable to resolve the complaint and therefore referred the matter to the Committee.

In fairness we should also note that the Committee found that it “does not believe that Mr Fysh acted in bad faith He exercised his right as a Member to express disagreement with the Commissioner’s interpretation of the rules and bring the matter before the Committee. However, it also notes that Mr Fysh adopted a deprecatory and, at points, patronising tone towards the Commissioner and the Registrar which was unacceptable, as were his unfounded questions about their objectivity. The Committee also notes that there were unnecessary delays to the Commissioner’s inquiry, which began nearly two years ago, because Mr Fysh did not respond to requests in a timely manner. It concludes that this does not represent the “full cooperation” that is expected of Members in the Commissioner’s investigations.”

The Leveller has previously pointed out that Mr Fysh has filed incorrect accounts and filed overdue accounts for West Sea Investments Limited and has on several occasions had to issue corrected versions of them. In an article in September 2019 we also noted his failure to declare a shareholding on his Parliamentary Register of Interests.

Today’s report concludes: “The Committee recommends that corrections to the Register outlining Mr Fysh’s four unpaid directorships which have continued since he entered the House in 2015 should appear in bold italic type for the next 12 months and that Mr Fysh should make an apology on the floor of the House for both the non-registrations and non-declarations by means of a personal statement. It also recommends that he should apologise in writing to the Commissioner and the Registrar, and that the text of this apology should be agreed in advance by the Chair of the Committee.

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