Nadine Dorries apologises to MPs over I'm a Celebrity appearance fee

Tory MP forced to register £82,000 profit made by her company after ruling by parliamentary standards committee

Tory MP Nadine Dorries has apologised to the Commons for failing to declare her fee for appearing on ITV's I'm a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! programme last year, after being censured by the parliamentary standards watchdog.

Dorries said she was "fully and unreservedly" sorry after the Commons standards committee said she had breached the code of conduct by her attitude to the inquiry and refusal to say how much she was being paid.

The committee ordered her to apologise after she did not declare her payments for eight pieces of media work on the MPs' register of members' interests, claiming she did not have to because they were made to her company, Averbrook, rather than to her personally. She also refused to tell Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, how much she was given, saying she had a confidentiality agreement with ITV over her fee to appear on the show.

The standards committee, a cross-party group of MPs, found Dorries should never have signed such a confidentiality agreement. It also agreed with Hudson that Dorries had breached the code through her "attitude to the commissioner's inquiries".

During her correspondence with Hudson, Dorries appeared to threaten legal action against the parliamentary watchdog. "I should inform you that I feel your report amounts to a witch-hunt and I have forwarded it on to legal professionals for further advice regarding my position in relation to the committee and you personally," she wrote.

"You are choosing to use a vexatious complaint made against me to reinforce your 'on the hoof, make it up as you go' policy. I will not tolerate that or any report which invokes libellous negative coverage against me as a result and will not hesitate to pursue you personally should that be the case."

Dorries has now asked to register that Averbrook had an income of around £142,000, a profit of £82,000, and paid a £10,000 dividend to her at the end of October.

During a brief statement, Dorries told fellow MPs: "I wish to apologise to the house fully and unreservedly for what was a genuinely inadvertent breach of the rules."

It comes after the MP for Mid Bedfordshire paid back £3,000 in expenses earlier this year after admitting claims for journeys between Westminster and her constituency were not to do with her parliamentary duties. She was cleared over an investigation into the use of her second home but was found to have wrongly claimed for travel taken to look after family members and her sick dog.

She also got into hot water with the Conservative Party for appearing on I'm a Celebrity last year. The party suspended the whip temporarily over her decision to disappear to the Australian jungle for filming without informing them.

During the latest investigation, the MPs on the standards committee said politicians should not use companies to avoid declaring the sources and amounts of their income. "It is clear that Ms Dorries's media work was remunerated, whether or not those payments were made to her or to her company," the committee said.

"We agree with the commissioner that Ms Dorries should have registered payments for such media services even though those payments were made through Averbrook Ltd."

The report said Dorries' media work may not have influenced her representation of her Mid Bedfordshire seat, but it was "likely to have been linked to her work in the House [of Commons]".

"We find it hard to believe she would have been invited to appear on I'm a Celebrity if she had not come to public prominence as a member of the house," the committee said.

The Dorries ruling comes days after Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, had to apologise in the Commons for failing to declare £30,000 in donations over six years. "I have of course admitted my mistakes and I apologised from the outset to the commissioner and to the committee," he told MPs.

After she was asked to apologise, Dorries said on Twitter: "Simon Hughes makes a long apology for very serious matter – mine – inadvertent breach and media go nuts !! #irrelevantlibdems."


Rowena Mason, political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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