This week, a series of press reports revealed the involvement of British MPs in promotion activities for pressure groups in return for money to attack Saudi Arabia in discussion sessions.
Liberal Democrat Layla Moran and Conservative Crispin Blunt admitted to using their Commons offices for the non-parliamentary paid meetings. They appeared via video link on a panel discussing political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.
The event last November was organized by law firm Bindmans LLP.
According to the register of financial interests for MPs, Moran was paid £3,000 by the firm, and Blunt received £6,000.
Under House of Commons rules, MPs must not use parliamentary facilities for non-parliamentary work.
Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has apologized and said she “deeply regretted” it.
In a statement, Moran said: “With MPs from other parties, I worked on the detention of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia with Bindmans.
“I deeply regret that I ‘zoomed’ in for one meeting from my office in Parliament when Covid restrictions were in place.
“I take full responsibility for this, and it will not happen again.”
Investigations did not immediately reveal the parties behind the funding of the law firm Bindmans or the organizations that participated in the payment of money to British MPs. Moreover, it was not clear whether the matter was limited to MPs Blunt and Moran or it had involved other members of Parliament.
For his part, Blunt said it did not occur to him that there would be an issue using a room in Parliament at no cost to the taxpayer.
He emphasized he would accept the findings of any investigation by the parliamentary standards commissioner if a complaint was made.
While the law allows deputies to perform a second job outside their parliamentary work, many question the ethical dimensions of this type of practice, especially when deputies use official offices to send political messages regarding other countries.