MP Conway ordered to repay cash

PUBLISHED: 14:59 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 16:06 25 August 2010

PAYBACK: Derek Conway

PAYBACK: Derek Conway

DEREK Conway was ordered to repay nearly £4,000 today (January 29) after being found guilty of overpaying his eldest son.

DEREK Conway was ordered to repay nearly £4,000 today (January 29) after being found guilty of overpaying his eldest son.

The MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup was criticised by the Commons Standards watchdog for overpaying his eldest son Henry for work of which there was 'no documentary or hard evidence of'.

Mr Conway, a father-of-three, was ordered to pay back the £3,757.83 of overpayments made to Henry for his employment as a research assistant between 2001 and 2004.

A report from the Standards and Privileges Committee read: "Mr Conway sent the commissioner a photograph of Henry Conway with a foreign ambassador taken on the Parliamentary estate; we do not regard this as hard evidence of work carried out.

"However, Henry Conway was a student at the Courtauld Institute of Art near Westminster; he lived at his parents' flat in Westminster; and he was seen about the Palace of Westminster on several occasions.

"The commissioner concludes, on the basis of the evidence he has seen, that Henry Conway did undertake work for Mr Conway during the period of his employment.

"The commissioner does not consider that there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegation that Henry Conway failed to work the 18 hours a week for which he was contracted and paid."

Henry's employment overlapped by a month with that of his younger brother, Freddie. Both were full-time students at the time they were employed.

The report comes exactly a year after the MP was suspended from Parliament and sacked from the Conservative party.

He later vowed to stand down at the next general election.

Last year, the same committee said they found 'little' or 'no evidence' of work carried out by Freddie, who was employed by his father for three years and was paid nearly £50,000.

Now, the cross-party committee have stated it would not be appropriate for the MP to be suspended again, but recommended that he apologised to the House of Commons by writing to their chairman.

But the committee concluded that the MP was again in breach of paying a son too much money.

The report concluded: "This case has demonstrated a serious lapse of judgment by an experienced Member of the House. Nevertheless, considering it on its own merits, we conclude that a further period of suspension from the House would be a disproportionate sanction to impose.

"As he himself recognises, Mr Conway's political career is over."

Mr Conway said: "The Standards and Privileges Committee report has cleared me on three of the four complaints alleging breach of the Rules of the House.

"They accepted the commissioner's findings that there was a job for my son Henry to do; that he was able and qualified to do it and that he had (with independent and photographic evidence) been doing it.

"The complaint is upheld with regard to the salary level paid to my son Henry over a period of 39 months from July 2001 and requires me to make a gross repayment of £3,757.83 to the House authorities, which I shall.

"The committee has applied a judgement on the guidance to Members which requires costs to have been 'necessarily incurred' and from the outset I have maintained that this is a subjective opinion, made with hindsight and that I had complied with the rules which existed at the time.

"The committee has within its power to reach such an opinion, therefore I have complied with its requirement to write to its chairman, Sir George Young Bt. MP apologising for the breach of the 'necessarily incurred' rule."

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