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The BBC's Carole Walker
"Failing to observe principles of openess"
 real 28k

Ken Livingstone MP
"I doubt there would be this fuss if I was not standing for mayor"
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Wednesday, 15 March, 2000, 21:12 GMT
Livingstone to apologise to MPs
Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone: "Did not observe principle of openess"
Ken Livingstone has agreed to make a public apology to the House of Commons after being criticised over his failure to properly register outside interests worth more than 150,000.

London Mayor
The independent candidate for London mayor was criticised by the Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges over payments from journalism and public speaking.

The committee said in a report Mr Livingstone "breached the rules on registration of his interests and did not observe the principle of openness which the code of conduct (for MPs) requires".

There is no suggestion of any impropriety or concealment on my part. My speaking engagements and newspaper columns are very much in the public domain and my company accounts are on public record.

Ken Livingstone
It went on: "In view of the scale of the payments and the period of time over which they increased, we recommend that Mr Livingstone should make an apology to the House by means of a personal statement."

Mr Livingstone has denied any concealment of his business interests.

He said: "The substance of the commissioner's new report is that my entry should have been changed subsequently to reflect that my speaking engagements and newspaper columns had become more regular.

"I immediately made clear that I would comply with this latest advice from the commissioner.

Registered income

"There is no suggestion of any impropriety or concealment on my part. My speaking engagements and newspaper columns are very much in the public domain and my company accounts are on public record."

The committee said the Brent East MP, who earlier this month appealed to the public for 500,000 to fund his mayoral campaign, should have registered the substantial earnings from public speaking and journalism made through his company, Localaction Ltd.

The committee said Mr Livingstone had told the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards that Localaction's income between June 1998 and last month was 220,992 - of which 158,599 should have been registered.

The cross-party committee said: "Mr Livingstone's failure to make an appropriate entry in the Register (of Members' Interests) left the reader of the register wholly unaware of the scale of Mr Livingstone's earnings from these sources."

Declaration 'inadequate'

The report backed the findings of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards that Mr Livingstone's declaration in the register of interests was inadequate.

The committee said the MP should have made a "comprehensive entry" covering all the services he provided through Localaction, including speaking engagements as well as writing and media work.

It said he should also have listed in broad pay bands how much he earned from certain speaking engagements and articles and a separate register in the member's interests should have been made for his column in the London's Evening Standard.

The committee said Mr Livingstone had asked for guidance in relation to his interest in Localaction in August 1996 he had not mentioned speaking engagements.

In response to an inquiry by the commissioner, Mr Livingstone told him in September 1996 that his other activities were "all one-off" after dinner speeches.

But, the committee said that by 1998 and 1999 Mr Livingstone was carrying out speaking engagements for a number of clients "on a significant commercial basis" and should have made a new entry in the register.

Mr Livingstone said: "I contacted the parliamentary committee in 1996, asked their advice and I was led to believe that anything paid into my company I didn't need to actually declare.

"As soon as they raised it I was happy to declare it."

He said he had decided two years ago - when he expected to be Labour's London mayoral candidate - to "really work the after-dinner circuit" in order to raise money for the mayoral campaign.

Mystery complaint

The identity of the person who made the complaint is shrouded in mystery.

According to the committee's report, the complaint was made by a John C Jones, of Shepshed, Leicestershire.

But the only John C Jones listed in the phone book for Shepshed said he had nothing to do with the complaint and had been baffled to receive a letter on the subject from the Commons authorities.

Mr Livingstone said he was "very concerned" to hear of the development.

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See also:

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Livingstone's outside interests
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