Two Kent MPs are being investigated over attempts to lobby judges ahead of a court hearing relating to “naughty Tory” Charlie Elphicke.
Thanet North’s Sir Roger Gale and Dover’s Natalie Elphicke – the estranged wife of jailed ex-MP – are among five members of Parliament being probed for their use of the public purse by the house’s standards watchdog.
It stems from their joint bid in 2020 to stop details being made public of referees who had written to the court in support of disgraced Elphicke after he was found guilty of sexual assaults against two women.
They had used Commons stationary in a letter to senior judges to intervene, arguing that some of the referees believed their references would be “for the judge’s eyes only” and that publishing them could deter others from providing similar background details in future cases.
Others include Adam Holloway, Colonel Bob Stewart and ex-environment secretary Theresa Villiers and the peer Lord Freud.
The five and the peer subsequently published their references so that lay people’s references would not have to be published.
Mrs Elphicke told Kentonline she is not allowed to comment on the investigation, which is being led by Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards.
The probe is into “use of facilities [stationery] provided from the public purse” and for “actions causing significant damage to the reputation of the house as a whole, or of its members generally.”
Ms Stone is also investigating the Prime Minister for a potential breach of standards over a luxury £15,000 Christmas holiday he had in the Caribbean with his fiance.
Natalie Elphicke succeeded her husband as MP for Dover and Deal in 2019. is allowed to give background about the action they took in writing to the judges.
She said: “As set out in the Lords Report, David Freud took action as he was “most concerned to learn of the distress some providers of character references were undergoing at the prospect of them being made public.”
“The Lords Commissioner accepted that David Freud had acted with good intentions.
“She said “I have also recognised that his motives in acting as he did were to assist members of the public involved rather than for any personal advantage.”
“To most people that would simply be a case of trying to do the right thing with the best of intentions.”
“I am not allowed to comment on the Commons investigation at this time.”
Previously she has said “I am appalled at the way the basic rights of many of my constituents have been ridden roughshod over by the court.”
“Privacy, the right to family life and a fair trial, these exist to protect everyone in our country, not just the people who you like or agree with.”
Last week in Parliament Mrs Elphicke welcomed new laws to ‘restore the balance of power’ between the courts, parliament and Government that were announced in the Queen’s Speech. She said “representing constituents is a fundamental duty of this House”, further saying “ it is our duty to represent our constituents and our country without fear or favour. To do our job, we must be able to hold others to account: where there is injustice, we must speak truth to power, not walk on by.”
Read more: All the latest news from Dover
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