Two Kent MPs are to be suspended from the Commons for trying to “improperly influence judicial proceedings” in a case involving their disgraced former colleague Charlie Elphicke.
Natalie Elphicke, the wife of the former Dover MP and Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale will miss tomorrow’s sitting in the chamber.
They were among five Conservative MPs who had written to judges urging them not to release character references they had submitted in support of the former MP Charlie Elphicke.
After Elphicke’s conviction, the court was asked by media to have the character references released.
The MPs sought to block the letters sent to the judge.
The issue was referred to the Commons standards committee, which investigated and concluded that while there was no suggestion they actually influenced the outcome of the hearing, the fact they sought to do so “risked giving the impression that elected politicians can bring influence to bear on the judiciary, out of public view and in a way not open to others”.
They said: “Such egregious behaviour is corrosive to the rule of law and, if allowed to continue unchecked, could undermine public trust in the independence of judges.”
The committee, which includes MPs from across the parties as well as lay members, ruled that in sending their letters, the MPs “undertook an action which caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons”.
The committee’s report recommending the suspensions was endorsed by MPs today.
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