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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 17:39 GMT
Robinson suspended from Commons
Geoffrey Robinson
Former paymaster general Geoffrey Robinson has been suspended for three weeks from the House of Commons for failing to register a contract that he entered into in 1990.

The move, which was decided without a vote, came after the Labour MP had apologised to the House for his failure to make public the contract that led to him "inadvertently" misleading the Committee of Standards and Privileges.

A Member who is not frank and open must expect a more serious penalty

Sir George Young
The multi-millionaire member for Coventry North West insisted that he had not received a 200,000 payment from a company belonging to disgraced tycoon Robert Maxwell.

He said: "I wish to start by apologising to the House for a failure to register in the year 1990, a conditional contract entered into which I expected a company I owned to be paid.

"And to apologise also for my failure to recall the existence of this contract and therefore inadvertently misleading the standards and privileges committee when asked about a matter that might be considered related to it in 1998, some eight years later.

"I apologise to the House for these oversights and I accept absolutely the committee's recommendations.

"I did not receive, nor did any company associated with me receive, the payment as alleged."

He pledged to continue the search for proof of this in the records of the company once owned by Maxwell.

The Standards and Privileges Committee recommended the suspension after it was found that Mr Robinson gave "inadvertently incomplete answers" to Ms Filkin, whose official title is the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards.

Robert Maxwell
Robert Maxwell: Died in 1991
After making his apology the MP left the Commons chamber allowing his colleagues to debate the recommended suspension.

The chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee, Sir George Young, said the committee's predecessor, which sat before the last election, and Parliamentary standards watchdog Elizabeth Filkin "were misled as a result of what Mr Robinson failed to tell them in 1998".

Sir George said: "A Member who is not frank and open must expect a more serious penalty."

Call for suspension

The Conservative MP then asked the Commons to approve the committee's recommendations and vote for the suspension which it duly did.

Mr Robinson was previously criticised for failing to provide "full answers" and withholding information from an earlier inquiry into the 200,000 payment he allegedly received from a company controlled by the disgraced tycoon.

The MP said at the time that he had not received the money.

He was given three months to prove his assertion but failed to do so - hence the recommendation.

The committee's report said: "We do not assume that payment was made to or benefited Mr Robinson or one of his companies."

Serious breach

But their report also said that the Coventry North West MP had failed to provide Ms Filkin with "full and accurate" responses over the payment.

"We regard that as a serious breach of the rules of the House," the report said.

"In our view, Mr Robinson's conduct falls below the standard the House is entitled to expect of its members.

"We recommend that Mr Robinson be suspended from the service of the House for three weeks."

The MP has consistently denied being paid the 200,000 for management services to a subsidiary of Maxwell's Hollis Industries - AM Lock.

But the investigation into the matter reopened after a journalist, Tom Bower published evidence of an invoice for the money which was sent from Mr Robinson's address stamped "paid".

The MPs suspension follows the fourth parliamentary investigation into his affairs since Labour first came to power in 1997.

See also:

24 Oct 01 | UK Politics
The downfall of Labour's Mr Business
19 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Byers fights cover-up claims
22 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Robinson cleared over Transtec failure
26 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Robinson: 'I'm blameless'
26 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Q&A: Geoffrey Robinson and TransTec
04 May 01 | UK Politics
Profile: Geoffrey Robinson
04 May 01 | UK Politics
MPs censure Robinson
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