All The Major 'Sleaze' Accusations Levelled At The Conservative Party

It's actually quite hard to keep up at this point.
Iain Duncan Smith, Boris Johnson and Owen Paterson have all been scrutinised over 'sleaze' allegations
Iain Duncan Smith, Boris Johnson and Owen Paterson have all been scrutinised over 'sleaze' allegations

It felt like the week when the levees broke.

Westminster has been in the spotlight over a long and complicated stream of sleaze allegations against MPs, and they have come thick and fast since the controversy over Owen Paterson’s lobbying.

While parliamentarians from across the house have taken second jobs, there are a number of MPs who have faced particularly strong backlash over fears their role in the Commons is being overshadowed by their side-hustles.

Prime minister Boris Johnson even tried to fight back against the allegations at COP26 when he told world leaders that the UK is “not remotely a corrupt country”.

Many of the practices have been long-standing in parliament, but the focus on whether they should be allowed has intensified – raising questions about the finances of MPs that were last aired during the expenses scandal. Here’s a round-up of all the sleaze claims dogging the Tory Party – and the hefty sums these Conservative members got to take home.

Sir Geoffrey Cox’s extra £6m

The former attorney-general – and current Tory MP for Torridge and West Devon – has earned at least £6 million since being elected to his seat in 2005, according to the Guardian.

Cox was found to have been working in the British Virgin Islands doing paid legal work in a corruption case ordered by the Foreign Office.

He missed at least 12 parliamentary votes on four days when he appeared via video link for the BVI authorities.

This goes against Westminster’s rules to always put constituents first. MPs were also obliged from June onwards to vote in person.

Cox has claimed the chief party whip approved of his work overseas.

He also appeared to be using his parliamentary office during a video call for the corruption inquiry, which would breach Westminster rules about using the Commons for private work.

Cox has maintained that he did not breach any rules, but has deferred to the parliamentary commissioner. Labour has called for an investigation into his conduct and some ministers have refused to stand up for him during interviews.

Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson
Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson
Leon Neal via Getty Images

Iain Duncan Smith’s £25,000 a year

The former Tory leader has faced scrutiny for earning ÂŁ25,000 a year through a second job (approximately 12 hours a month) with a hand sanitiser company Byotrol.

The MP for Chingford and Woodford Green chaired the government’s Task Force On Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform, which created new guidelines benefitting the firm which employed him.

The taskforce recommended that alcohol-free hand sanitisers should be formally recognised for use in the UK, and did not report Duncan Smith’s links to Byotrol.

The company later confirmed that the taskforce’s recommendations had granted a “powerful boost” to its business.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “This is exactly the kind of brazen conflict of interest that proves that the Conservatives think it is one rule for them and another for the rest of us.”

Duncan Smith and Byotrol have not yet commented.

Laurence Robertson’s £2,000 per month

A Tory backbencher is paid £24,000 a year to act as a “parliamentary adviser on sport and safer gambling” for the Betting and Gaming Council, according to The Times.

This has triggered allegations that he has a conflict of interest between his parliamentary job and his 10 hours of work per month for the council, as Robertson has publicly argued against toughening up restrictions on the gambling industry.

However, his appointment has been declared on the register of members’ financial interests and he claims he is acting in the interest of his constituency as it is home to the famous Cheltenham racecourse.

Defending himself, he said: “I have warned not to drive people onto the gambling black market – again, not an unreasonable stance to take.

“And I have not initiated any of those debates, which is the crucial point as far as the rules go.”

Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski speaking in the House of Commons
Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski speaking in the House of Commons
House of Commons - PA Images via PA Images via Getty Images

ÂŁ250,000 for Daniel Kawczynski

The MP for Shrewsbury & Atcham earned more than ÂŁ250,000 from a second job from a mining company, according to The Times.

He puts in 30 hours a month for Electrum Group, and has been paid ÂŁ258,000 in total since starting the company since 2018.

Kawcynski is also the prime minister’s trade envoy for Mongolia, a country known for its gold, copper and coal – a job linked to overseas mining.

According to the Daily Mail, his role within Downing Street helped him reach high profile figures in Mongolia.

However, the MP has denied any wrongdoing and claims he told civil servants he had outside interests when he became the trade envoy.

Owen Paterson earned more than ÂŁ100,000 a year

As the Tory MP who was at the centre of the controversy into MP sleaze, Paterson actually resigned from parliament when the government withdrew its backing for him.

Paterson was found guilty of breaching parliamentary rules by the MPs’ watchdog after lobbying on behalf of two companies which paid him more than £100,000 per year.

However, the government whipped MPs not to vote for his 30-day suspension, meaning he evaded punishment for breaking the rules as Tories began calling for reform to the parliamentary standards commission.

After huge public outcry, Downing Street U-turned, Paterson stepped down, but the microscope on how MPs are disciplined remains.

MP who criticised Marcus Rashford has second job

Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke suggested Marcus Rashford should stick to his day job playing football, rather than politics.

But it emerged this week the Dover MP has a second job.

Elphicke is making almost ÂŁ100 an hour as an adviser for a new build homes independent watchdog.

She has been earning the equivalent of £36,000 a year on top of her £81,932 annual salary as an MP since January, according to a register of MPs’ financial interests.

Earlier this year, Elphicke apologised after suggesting the England footballer should have spent more time “perfecting his game” rather than “playing politics” after England’s Euros defeat.

The financial register shows at the time she was criticising Rashford’s child poverty campaigning over free school meals, Elphicke herself had declared a second job.

Since January, she has been earning nearly ÂŁ700 a week as the chair of the New Homes Quality Board.

ÂŁ3m to be a Tory peer

The Met Police are reportedly thinking about investigating the “cash for honours” allegations against the entire Conservative Party.

According to the SNP MP Peter Wishart, 22 of the largest financial contributors to the Tory Party were appointed to the House of Lords in the last 11 years the Conservatives have been in power.

Nine of the party’s former treasurers have been pushed up as peers since 2010, although the Tories deny there is any link.

A former party chairman was quoted in the Sunday Times as saying: “The most telling line is, once you pay your £3 million, you get your peerage.”

Boris Johnson’s freebie holidays

The prime minister is under public scrutiny for going on holiday to Spain in October, where he stayed in a villa connected to Zac Goldsmith – a wealthy Tory peer and minister.

Johnson declared a trip on the Register of Ministers’ Interests, and No.10 say he followed all transparency rules. The prime minister has refused to declare the cost of his holiday.

Labour’s Rayner has asked the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate it as the public will assume Johnson was “dishing out cushy jobs to his friends who pay for his luxury holidays”.

The prime minister was also criticised for not explaining how his trip to the Caribbean island Mustique was funded back in 2019, but the Committee on Standards investigated and found he had not broken the rules.

The prime minister’s flat refurb

Labour urged the MPs’ watchdog to investigate Johnson’s refurbishment of his Downing Street flat too. It reportedly cost £200,000 and was – at least initially – funded by a Tory donor.

Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson
Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson
Jacob King - PA Images via Getty Images

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