MP in breach of Commons code

Brigg MP Andrew Percy EMN-150821-150954001
Brigg MP Andrew Percy EMN-150821-150954001

Brigg MP Andrew Percy has been forced to repay hundreds of pounds of public money after a parliamentary standards investigation revealed he had used pre-paid envelopes for political purposes.

Conservative Mr Percy breached the House of Commons code of conduct and had to pay back £332.59 after sending a survey about mobile phone coverage to his constituents.

The survey was sent in pre-paid envelopes provided by the House of Commons and funded by taxpayers.

In a letter sent with the survey, the MP described Conservative councillors Rob Waltham and Carl and Nigel Sherwood as being ‘hard-working’.

The investigation found that by using the words ‘hard-working’ Mr Percy could be interpreted as endorsing his fellow Conservatives over other councillors.

This put Mr Percy in breach of a rule that ‘prohibits the use of parliamentary stationery for or at the behest of a political party’.

The breach came to light after a resident complained to the standards commissioner.

The resident said the letter had been distributed in Barnetby in February - in the run up to the General Election.

The letter of complaint stated: “I am especially concerned that in his letter, Percy mentioned three North Lincolnshire Council candidates for the May election.

“The letters were sent to residents of Barnetby, which is part of the Brigg ward in which Waltham and the Sherwood brothers will stand in May.

“These men are described in the letter as being ‘hard-working’ councillors, which is clearly a value judgment.”

Mr Percy’s letter was part of his campaign to improve mobile phone coverage.

In a letter to the resident who complained, the commissioner for standards said: “Percy has told me that the paper used for the letter and the survey about which you complained were not funded from the public 

“The misused stationery was, therefore, limited to the use of postage pre-paid envelopes.

“Mr Percy has told me that he did not intend to breach the rules but, nonetheless, he accepts my judgment that he did so.

“He has apologised for this and agreed to refund the cost of the misused envelopes.”

Mr Percy told the commissioner results of the survey had been very useful.

He said he has presented them to mobile phone companies and used them in a debate in parliament.

At the time of going to press, Mr Percy had not responded to a request for a comment.