Sir Keir Starmer: why is he under investigation by standards watchdog - what has Labour leader said in reply?

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The Labour leader has said he is ‘absolutely confident, there’s no problem’

The leader of the Labour party is being investigated by the Parliamentary watchdog for potential breaches of two rules relating to MPsoutside earnings and gifts, benefits and hospitality.

A Labour spokesperson said Keir Starmer “takes his declaration responsibilities very seriously” and said the investigation relates to small administrative errors and a “small number of late declarations”.

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Why is Keir Starmer being investigated?

Mr Starmer is being investigated for breaches of the MPs’ code of conduct as it relates to the registration of outside interests.

The commissioner is tasked with investigating breaches of the rules which range vastly in severity, from slight errors in the registration of small outside earnings, to accusations that MPs have taken part in paid advocacy, or lobbying.

According to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards’ website, the section of the MPs’ code of conduct relevant to the investigation into Mr Starmer is paragraph 14.

This states that MPs, “shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests”.

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It continues: “They shall always be open and frank in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its Committees, and in any communications with Ministers, Members, public officials or public office holders.”

The commissioner’s website states that the specific matters under investigation relate to two different categories for registering outside interests.

The first is Category 1, which relates to outside employment and earnings.

MPs are required to register any outside earnings over a low threshold, whether it comes through regular employment or one-off provision of services.

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A spokesman for the Labour leader said: “Keir Starmer takes his declaration responsibilities very seriously and has already apologised for the fact that administrative errors in his office have led to a small number of late declarations.

“The Standards Commissioner has asked for more information which we are happy to provide.”

What outside earnings has Keir Starmer declared?

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards launched an investigation last week, the day after the latest register of members’ financial interests showed Keir Starmer receiving an advance of £18,450 for a forthcoming book.

On 18 May, Mr Starmer registered the payment from HarperCollins, which he had received on 19 April.

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As MPs are required to provide an estimate of the amount of time spent on any paid outside work, the Labour leader noted that he had spent between one and five hours per week on the book since March 2020.

Prior to this Mr Starmer has not carried out any paid work in the last 12 months, though he was paid £17,598.60 in August 2021 for work carried out prior to 2020.

While MPs do generally note in the register of interests whether they have or intend to donate a payment they have received to charity.

Despite reporting that Mr Starmer would be donating the book advance to charity, the latest entry in the register makes no reference to this.

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NationalWorld raised this issue with the Labour Party last week, the day before the Parliamentary Commissioner began an investigation, but received no response.

Mr Starmer also received two small royalty payments for books published before he entered parliament, of less than £500 in total.

As these were registered after the 28-day deadline to declare outide earnings, these payments could be part of the subject of the investigation.

What hospitality and gifts has Keir Starmer declared?

The second category of rule-breach that Mr Starmer is under investigation for is Category 3, which relates to gifts, benefits and hospitality received from UK sources - there is a separate category for foreign gifts, benefits and hospitality.

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According to the most recent entry in the register of members’ financial interests, Mr Starmer has declared tickets to eight sporting events in the last year, worth around £9200 in total.

Most of these were provided directly by a football club or sporting association, including the Premier League, Crystal Palace, Watford and Saracens.

Most recently, he received four tickets with hospitality to see Arsenal play Tottenham on 12 May, worth £532.64, provided by Tottenham Hotspur.

In two instances, the hospitality tickets were registered after the 28-day deadline to declare gifts and hospitality.

In the last year Mr Starmer has also received an oil painting worth £1500 and tickets to two separate fast-food award shows in London, provided by JustEat, which were given to a member of staff.

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