Essex: No action to be taken against Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell over constituency office expenses

A PARLIAMENTARY standards watchdog has recommended no further action against Sir Bob Russell after a probe into his constituency office expenses.

An investigation was launched in January - just days after the Colchester MP was knighted - after a complaint by constituent Daniel Ellis.

The complaint alleged Sir Bob used �780-a-month of public money to rent his Magdalen Hall constituency office from a company that both he and his sister-in-law had shares in.

It was said that this breached a provision of The Green Book, a publication setting out the rules governing MP’s expenses.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards said on the balance of probabilities there was not sufficient evidence to say Sir Bob had not provided information on his shareholding to parliamentary authorities.

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But it did say Sir Bob had breached rules between 2003 and 2009 with regards to his shareholding in a company that sub-let accommodation for his constituency office.

However it said given there was no evidence to conclude Sir Bob had not told authorities about his shareholding that was “strong mitigation” for the 2003-2009 breach.

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The Standards and Privileges Committee, which considered the commissioner’s findings, said Sir Bob had received no financial benefit from his shareholding in the company, Magdalen Hall Company Limited.

Sir Bob, reacting to the report, said: “I am grateful to the committee for their decision that no further action is necessary.

“It is indeed a funny old world, somewhat akin to the logic of Alice in Wonderland, that I can spend �25,000 of my own money towards providing fit-for-purpose offices for myself and my staff – for the ultimate benefit of my constituents – and then to be the subject of a complaint.

The conclusion of a report released yesterday by the Standards and Privileges Committee read: “The member has accepted he breached the rules, albeit not deliberately or knowingly, and has apologised. We have recorded the breach of the rules. We do not recommend any further action.”

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