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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 12:51 GMT
MP 'failed to declare' TV payment
Diane Abbott
Diane Abbott is under fire over payments from her television work
Labour MP Diane Abbott has apologised to the House of Commons for not declaring payments for television work.

Ms Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, failed to register 17,300 from BBC1's This Week show.

The left-wing Labour MP, in a personal statement, apologised for the "oversight" and said she took "full responsibility" for the error.

Ms Abbott had told the parliamentary standards watchdog the omission was "completely inadvertent".

'Strict code'

In her apology, Ms Abbott said that it was "quite correct that there was such a strict code" governing payment to MPs - and that she supported the principle of "transparency".

But she said that given the public nature of her work - on a television programme - no one could have thought that she was trying to conceal anything.

The Hackney MP had been instructed to apologise by the Commons standards and privileges committee.

The committee reported that Ms Abbott had omitted to include in the register of members' interests a "substantial financial benefit" of 17,300 from her television appearances.

Apology

Its members accepted she had co-operated fully with the investigation and she had already apologised to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Sir Philip Mawer.

But the committee insisted that she should "apologise to the House for her oversight by way of a personal statement".

There was no attempt to conceal her involvement in the programme and it did not occur to her that anybody would think she was not being paid for it
Sir Philip Mawer
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Ms Abbott appears as a political commentator on the television programme alongside Conservative MP Michael Portillo.

The Hackney MP was herself the subject of comment and criticism last year when it emerged that she had rejected local state schools for her son - and had sent him to a private school instead.

Upholding the complaint against Ms Abbott, Sir Philip reported that she had argued "that her failure to register was completely inadvertent".

"There was no attempt to conceal her involvement in the programme and it did not occur to her that anybody would think she was not being paid for it," he said.

"This does not, however, obviate the need for her to register her remuneration for that work."

The complaint was made by Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell.




SEE ALSO:
Abbott admits job at risk
02 Nov 03  |  Politics
MP attacks Abbott's school choice
04 Nov 03  |  Education
Abbott criticised over school choice
27 Oct 03  |  Education
Faces of the week
07 Nov 03  |  Magazine
Diane Abbott
17 Oct 02  |  Politics


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