Margaret Hodge has apologised for using House-provided stationery costing £2.97 – in breach of MP rules – for her report into the Garden Bridge scandal
Parliamentary commissioner for standards Kathryn Hudson concluded that Hodge was breach of paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct for Members, which states that MPs ‘shall ensure that their use of public resources is always in support of their parliamentary duties’, when she used an estimated 70 sheets of parliamentary-supplied paper in connection with the report.
Hudson also concluded that, alongside her use of stationery, Hodge’s use of her parliament office for roughly 20 meetings with 41 people for the GLA-commissioned report, amounted to a ‘serious breach’ of the code.
Her decision was then carried by the parliamentary Committee on Standards, which concluded in a report that Hodge ‘was in breach of the code of conduct by using house facilities for work which fell outside her parliamentary duties, and for allowing the impression to be given that this work was being conducted in her official capacity’.
The committee ruled that the ‘appropriate sanction’ for Hodge’s failings was that ‘she should make an apology for this breach on a point of order on the floor of the house’.
Responding to the committee’s report, Hodge said: ‘I am extremely sorry that I inadvertently breached Parliamentary rules. I carried out this inquiry in good faith and in the public interest. I think all MPs would benefit from greater clarity in the rules governing the use of offices.’
The report also noted that Hodge initially produced the report on a pro-bono basis, but was later paid £9,500 by the GLA in recognition of the ‘significant amount’ the review required.
The commissioner received an allegation in June from Conservative GLA member Andrew Boff that Hodge had ‘used offices on the parliamentary estate and House-provided stationery to undertake paid work commissioned by a third party which was not in support of her parliamentary duties’. Boff said Hodge had consequently received ‘undue financial benefit as a result of her use of publicly funded resources’.
Hudson said she came to her conclusion because of a number of factors, including that the GLA set the terms of reference and took ownership of the review, as well as that report was to be provided directly to the GLA, as the ‘customer’, and it was not expected to be considered by parliament or any of its committees.
In April, Hodge’s damning report into the controversial Heatherwick Studio-designed scheme advised mayor of London Sadiq Khan to cancel the Garden Bridge and accept that £46 million of public money has been lost.