» Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shahid Malik

Asked whether the Prime Minister believed that Shahid Malik was a fit and proper person to hold Ministerial office, the PMS replied that he was.

Asked whether the Prime Minister had read Sir Philip Mawer s report, the PMS said that the key thing was that Sir Philip, an independent and widely respected figure, had concluded, on the basis of the evidence that he had analysed, that there had been no violations of the Ministerial Code. The Prime Minister, when he reappointed Mr Malik, made clear to him that he would have to put his rental arrangements in respect of his Dewsbury property on a more formal basis. This included a formal agreement that specified the rent to be paid and paying all his rent in future by Direct Debit.

Asked whether the Prime Minister had received an assurance from Mr Malik that this was going to happen, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had asked Mr Malik for confirmation, and that Mr Malik had confirmed that that had already happened.

Asked about issues relating to Mr Malik s second office, the PMS outlined once again that there were two sets of issues here. The first was around serious allegations surrounding rent which, on the face of it, would have been a breach of the Ministerial Code and which Sir Philip Mawer was asked to investigate. He found the rents were reasonable and that there was no breach of the Ministerial Code.

There was another set of issues surrounding Mr Malik s parliamentary expenses claims, but nobody was alleging that he was in breach of the Code. Mr Malik was responding to those questions, as they related to him in his capacity as an MP.

The PMS reminded journalists that Mr Malik was not the only MP to face such questions. The key thing was that there was a proper process in place, and that was the independent panel that would reassess every single expense claim that had been made. It was right that Mr Malik should go through that process. The Prime Minister would like to see that process up and running and completed as soon as possible. The Government stood ready to provide whatever assistance may be necessary to make that happen.

Asked when the Prime Minister described Hazel Blears tax affairs as totally unacceptable, was the Prime Minister speaking through the lens of the Ministerial Code or in relation to her capacity as an MP, the PMS said that Ms Blears was no longer a member of the Government, and that we had been through many iterations of these questions in the past.

Asked whether Cabinet Ministers should set a better example than the rest of MPs, the PMS replied that Ministers had to abide by the Ministerial Code. Where there was an accusation that related to the Code that had to be very thoroughly investigated and investigated quickly.

original source.

Briefing took place at 16:45 | Search for related news

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