Andrew Bridgen has been suspended from the House of Commons for five days for breaking lobbying rules and then suggesting the woman investigating him could be tempted by a peerage. The standards committee in Parliament made recommendations regarding Mr Bridgen’s behaviour which MPs agreed to accept.
The Tory MP was found to have breached the MP’s code of conduct last November.
According to an investigation, Mr Bridgen made a number of approaches to ministers and public officials on behalf of Mere Plantations, a Cheshire-based teak reforestation company with forests in Ghana for which he initially received £12,000 a year as an adviser.
He failed to register his interest in the company within the timeframe set out by the code of conduct, as the committee said he had a “very cavalier” attitude to the rules.
Mr Bridgen was also found to have inappropriately attempted to influence Kathryn Stone, a standards commissioner who was investigating the issue, according to Sky News.
In an email sent to Ms Stone shortly after the investigation, the Tory MP implied she could be swayed with a peerage as he claimed he heard a “rumour” she would only receive one if she ruled against him, due to his criticism of then-PM Boris Johnson.
Mr Bridgen said to Ms Stone he had heard “on a number of occasions an unsubstantiated rumour” that her time as parliamentary standards commissioner was set to end and there were plans in the works to offer her a peerage.
He said: “There is also some suggestion amongst colleagues that those plans are dependent upon arriving at the ‘right’ outcomes when conducting parliamentary standards investigation.
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Mr Bridgen said he decided to not take payment from the company or to undertake his duties a year and a half after accepting the role, but the committee said his contract had not been changed and there had been no written confirmation of these amendments.
He was found to have committed a “significant litany of errors” by failing to declare his interest in the company in eight emails to ministers, and in five meetings with ministers or public officials about carbon offsetting that would financially or materially benefit Mere Plantations.
It was recommended he be suspended for two days for three breaches of the MPs’ code of conduct and another three for the “unacceptable attack upon the integrity” on Ms Stone.
Express.co.uk has approached Mr Bridgen for comment.