Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing faces Commons standards probe after ‘lockdown-busting’ birthday drinks do for wife of Tory MP who helped condemn Boris Johnson on Partygate
A Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and another Tory MP are being investigated by Parliament’s sleaze watchdog.
Dame Eleanor Laing and Virginia Crosbie are both being probed over ‘actions causing significant damage to the reputation’ of the Commons.
The pair have previously faced questions about a ‘birthday drinks’ bash in Parliament in December 2020, when strict Covid rules were in place.
The alleged lockdown-busting event is claimed to have been hosted in Dame Eleanor’s offices in order to celebrate the birthdays of Ms Crosbie and Anne Jenkin.
Baroness Jenkin is a Tory peer who is the wife of senior Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin.
The December 2020 gathering was cited by former prime minister Boris Johnson in a statement accusing Sir Bernard of ‘monstrous hypocrisy’.
Sir Bernard allegedly attended the event before he later sat on the cross-party panel which found Mr Johnson had lied to MPs with his Partygate denials.
An alleged lockdown-busting event is claimed to have been hosted in Dame Eleanor Laing’s offices in order to celebrate the birthdays of Virginia Crosbie and Anne Jenkin
Ms Crosbie, MP for Ynys Mon, apologised earlier this year for attending an event in Parliament while Covid restrictions were still in place
The December 2020 gathering was cited by former prime minister Boris Johnson in a statement accusing Sir Bernard Jenkin of ‘monstrous hypocrisy’
The Commons’ Standards Commissioner, Daniel Greenberg, is now looking into claims Dame Eleanor and Ms Crosbie may have broken rules for MPs.
An investigation opened yesterday is centred on allegations about ‘actions causing significant damage to the reputation of the House as a whole, or of its Members generally’.
The Commissioner has not released any further details regarding the probe.
Ms Crosbie, MP for Ynys Mon, apologised earlier this year for attending an event in Parliament while Covid restrictions were still in place.
In a statement, she said that she did not receive a penalty from police over the event and promised to ‘cooperate fully’ with the probe.
She said: ‘I will, of course, co-operate fully with this investigation.
‘However, I would like to confirm I was contacted by the Metropolitan Police in October.
‘It told me that following an investigation I would not receive a Fixed Penalty Notice in relation to allegations that Covid regulations were breached at an event I attended on 8th December 2020.’
Dame Eleanor, MP for Epping Forest, has served as a Deputy Speaker since 2013 under both current Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and his predecessor John Bercow.
An invite sent by Baroness Jenkin on WhatsApp described the planned bash in December 2020 as a ‘birthday drinks’ party for ‘a few of our favourite people’.
The planned event was described as being ‘v small and socially distanced’.
At the time, lockdown regulations in London made clear that ‘you must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household…or support bubble’.
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