Page last updated at 09:21 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Diana coroner to join MPs' expenses panel

Lord Justice Scott Baker
Lord Justice Scott Baker is one of the country's most senior judges

The judge who conducted the inquest into Princess Diana's death is set to join a panel overseeing MPs' expenses.

Lord Justice Scott Baker is a candidate for the board of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, set up after the expenses scandal.

It will decide whether MPs should stop claiming for mortgages and employing relatives and will run the new system.

Ex-MP Jackie Ballard, auditor Isobel Sharp and businessman Ken Olisa are the other candidates for the board.

Their names were announced by Commons Speaker John Bercow on Tuesday but they have yet to be approved by MPs.

MSPs' expenses review

Lord Justice Scott Baker is an appeal court judge who sat as coroner in the inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed.

Professor Sharp, a partner at Deloitte LLP, sat on an independent review last year into expenses at the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Ballard was Liberal Democrat MP for Taunton from 1997 to 2001 and has served as director general of the RSPCA. She is currently chief executive of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.

Mr Olisa is the founder of merchant bank Restoration Partners.

MPs in the Commons
MPs' expenses were at the centre of a huge scandal over the summer

Mr Bercow put forward their names following an independent selection procedure and approval by a committee of senior MPs.

The chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Professor Ian Kennedy, has also yet to be confirmed by MPs before being formally appointed by the Queen, though the final stages of the process are regarded as virtually a formality.

The new body was set up by emergency legislation before the summer recess amid public anger at claims made by some MPs under their second homes allowances.

It has been charged with overhauling the system following a six-month independent inquiry by the committee on standards in public life, chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly.

Sir Christopher has recommended sweeping reforms - including a ban on MPs' employing relatives at public expense and on claiming towards mortgage interest payments.

Other allowances would be axed or reduced under Sir Christopher's proposals but Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is not obliged to implement them.

Amid reports Sir Ian Kennedy had concerns about some of the more radical reforms, several MPs urged him not to "unravel" the Kelly report.

After being nominated Sir Ian said Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority must establish a "fair and effective" new system which responded to the public's concerns and stressed it would be "independent - of Parliament, government and of any other particular interest".

Under the Parliamentary Standards Act, which set up the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the body must have a chairman and four board members, including at least one former holder of high judicial office, one qualified auditor and one former MP.

Board members are expected to work two or three days a month and will be paid £400 a day.

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