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Friday, 15 December, 2000, 11:34 GMT
MP censured over speaker bets

Frank Roy has been censured by a committee of MPs
A Labour MP has been officially censured by a cross-party committee of MPs for placing a bet on the outcome of the recent election for House of Commons speaker.


Betting by members on the outcome of any parliamentary business brings discredit on the House

Standards and privileges committee
Motherwell and Wishaw MP Frank Roy was singled out by the Commons standards and privileges committee, which declared: "Betting by members on the outcome of any parliamentary business brings discredit on the House."

The committee backed a decision by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Elizabeth Filkin to uphold a complaint against Mr Roy by a member of the public.

No action is to be taken against the MP, however, who in a letter to Ms Filkin expressed "sincere regret" for failing to anticipate the controversy that news of his betting would cause.

200 bet placed

In her report Ms Filkin noted that on 20 July this year a bet of 200 was placed "on Mr Roy's behalf, and with his agreement, at odds of 20 to 1" on Michael Martin - the eventual winner - to succeed Betty Boothroyd as Commons speaker.


I would like to put on record the sincere regret that I wasn't able to foresee the huge disappointment felt by some people and outrage felt my some others

Frank Roy MP
She added that Mr Roy was aware that the friend who placed the bet for him also placed a syndicated bet on Mr Martin immediately afterwards on behalf of a group of the MP's constituents.

In the second instance, the odds were 14 to 1.

Referring to Mr Roy's bet, Ms Filkin noted: "Based on the odds he had obtained (20 to 1) on his original stake of 200, Mr Roy was entitled to receive winnings of 4,000.

"However, on hearing that the syndicated bet placed at the same time as his own had attracted odds of only 14 to 1, Mr Roy decided to 'split the difference' with his constituents by taking winnings based on odds of 17 to 1 - that is to say 3,400."

Regret

In his letter to Ms Filkin, the MP said: "I would like to put on record the sincere regret that I wasn't able to foresee the huge disappointment felt by some people and outrage felt my some others."

"I regret especially the media attention thrown on my family, friends and parliamentary colleagues and to Mr Martin in particular."

Ms Filkin acknowledged that Mr Roy had not attempted to influence the outcome of the election, saying: "Even if, as I accept, Mr Roy did not seek to influence other members in order to produce an outcome financially favourable to himself, his conduct did, in my view, breach the requirements of the code of conduct."

She also said that the ruling could be seen by some as "unfair to Mr Roy" but said that "it is the perception of impropriety on Mr Roy's part that is important".

Mr Roy later said: "Obviously I am glad that the standards and privileges committee have decided that no further action is to be taken in this case.

"I have given an apology which has been accepted by the committee and now consider the matter closed."

Raymond Robertson, Scottish Conservative Party chairman, commented: "As the committee has come out and taken appropriate action, Frank Roy and all other MPs need to learn from this and move on."

  • Former Speaker Betty Boothroyd quashes doubts about her career as a Tiller Girl on a BBC Two documentary on Saturday.

    Asked by the BBC's Michael Cockerell why she thinks people doubt the claim, Miss Boothroyd replies that it is because she destroyed pictures of herself, fearing the media "would have written about nothing else".

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    See also:

    31 Oct 00 | UK Politics
    Inquiry into Speaker contest bets?
    25 Oct 00 | UK Politics
    Did MPs bet on new Speaker?
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