Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Privilege debate


MPs have rallied round one of their number who said he was being "intimidated" and prevented from exercising his right to freedom of speech in the Commons by a firm of solicitors.

On 14 January 2010, they backed a request from Liberal Democrat John Hemming to refer the matter to Committee on Standards and Privileges, who will now investigate.

A motion debated by MPs "called attention" to Mr Hemming's complaint that Withers LLP had "committed a contempt of the House by seeking to intimidate a Member in his parliamentary conduct".

Mr Hemming referred to an e-mail sent to him by Withers threatening legal action against him over allegations he made about a building development in his constituency.

Withers say they have acted "entirely properly and professionally" and "strongly refute" their actions were "intimidatory in any way".

Yesterday, in a highly unusual move, Commons Speaker John Bercow ruled that a debate could take place after Mr Hemming's complaint about the e-mail.

He also ruled that Hansard, the official record of Parliament, publish the e-mail in full.

Mr Hemming's motion was backed by the government, as well as the Tory and Liberal Democrat front benches.

MPs then referred the complaint to the committee without a vote.


Story Tools


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific