No need for Warburton to resign?
Today the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner ruled on one of three cases involving MP David Warburton. Mr Warburton is the MP for Somerton & Frome.
The case revolves around a loan received by Warburton from Roman Joukovski in 2017. It has been implied in the press that the loan was received on favourable terms. This it is now clear was not the case. the loan was secured on his property and carried an interest rate of 8%. If anything that rate was less generous than terms that could have been had in the market in 2017.
The Standards Commissioner decided Mr Warburton should have registered the loan. She says “I reached this conclusion because an onlooker might have reasonably thought that at the time the loan was provided it had the potential to influence Mr Warburton’s words or actions 30 as a Member. I decided that the failure to register the loan amounted to a breach of paragraph 14 of the Code.“
Subsequently, Mr Warburton was asked to provide a reference for Mr Joukovski. The Commissioner also decided that it was also an error for the following reason: “the loan should have been declared when Mr Warburton wrote to the FCA about Mr Joukovski on 12 March 2021. This is because an onlooker might reasonably have thought that the loan was either influencing the words in Mr 35 Warburton’s reference or had influenced Mr Warburton’s decision to write a
reference. I decided that the failure to declare the loan when writing to the FCA amounted to a further breach of paragraph 14 of the Code.“
However the much more serious charge, that Mr Warburton had effectively undertaken paid advocacy work on behalf of Mr Joukovski was rejected. The Commissioner writes “I was therefore satisfied that the letter was not seeking to
confer “a financial or material benefit” on Mr Joukovski.”
Following the ruling, LibDem candidate for the Somerton & Frome constituency put out a statement. She said “David Warburton is still busy fighting for his own political survival rather than for the people of Somerton and Frome. This ruling confirms he breached parliamentary rules, while he is still under a separate investigation after serious and alarming allegations about his behaviour. Local families and pensioners are paying the price for the Conservative Government’s chaos and incompetence, with soaring energy bills, food prices and mortgage payments. But David Warburton hasn’t spoken in Parliament on behalf of his constituents in almost a year, and hasn’t voted since March. Local people deserve better than an MP who is missing in action. They deserve a local champion who will stand up for them and fight for a fair deal.”
So we questioned Ms Dyke, what she would do if she was elected and happened to breach Parliamentary Standards? She told us “I would abide by the rules and any decisions of the Standards Commissioner.” Which didn’t quite answer the question we put. We asked again: if you were found to not have abided by the rules by the Standards Commissioner, you would presumably resign? As I think that is what you are calling for Mr Warburton to do?
At which point Sarah Dyke offered this clarification: “I’m not calling for David Warburton to resign, but highlighting how he is failing to represent local constituents, and saying local people deserve better.“
And now Labour
Labour’s Prospective Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Somerton and Frome is Sean Dromgoole. he added “ David Warburton broke the rules. Let us remind ourselves of the facts; he accepted a loan from Roman Joukovski without declaring it. And then wrote a letter of reference for him to the Financial Conduct Authority. This shows he isn’t suitable to represent the people of Somerton and Frome. They deserve much, much better.”
Green Party view
Martin Dimery, Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Somerton and Frome
It is all too easy to make political capital out of David Warburton’s recent problems. The primary role of an MP is to represent all constituency members, regardless of political views. In the light of no further action being taken against David and his determination to remain MP for Somerton and Frome, I hope he will resume his Parliamentary and constituency duties in full. The people of this constituency have been disadvantaged greatly by a lack of representation for far too long.
After publishing this piece, we received a complaint from Sarah Dyke the LibDem candidate for Somerton & Frome constituency. Ms Dyke asserted that the title of our piece: “No need for Warburton to resign say LibDems” was misleading. She argues that although she had clearly stated she was not calling for him to resign, that did not mean there was no need for him to resign. Obviously we take complaints of this nature seriously. We reviewed the article and title. We do not agree with Ms Dyke’s view. However in the interests of balance we have amended the title to “No need for Warburton to resign?”