Scott Benton will submit an appeal to the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), the body that sits above the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Parliamentary Standards Committee. The Committee on Standards handed down a 35 day suspension from the House of Commons, but Mr Benton will appeal against this. The appeal will be heard in the New Year so the suspension itself is now suspended.
Scott Benton MP said:
“I will today be submitting a formal complaint to the House Authorities, as well as appealing the decision of the committee in due course.
“Throughout this process I’ve been sworn to secrecy by the Committee on Standards.
“Even this week, I was told I was only allowed to read their judgment at 8am yesterday, an hour before publication.
“Yet the night before the report was published, people on the Committee on Standards leaked contents of the report to a journalist and I was contacted on the evening before publication repeatedly by members of the press. This was not the first such leak whilst the investigation was taking place.
“This process is designed to be open, fair, honest and transparent so the public and MPs can have trust in the process.
“This trust has been breached by Members of the Committee. I can’t have faith in a standards process that doesn’t adhere to its own ethics, standards and principles.
“Time and time again, this process has demonstrated itself to me to be anything but fair and transparent. This decision was heavily influenced by the Memorandum submitted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards which makes several pivotal statements that are completely factually inaccurate.
“If those that judge MPs are not being open minded, fair and proportionate in the way that they are handling evidence or examining witnesses, our democracy is under threat.
“I will happily fully submit myself to a process that considers the actual facts in my case, and which relies on indisputable evidence. Upholding the principles of fairness and due process is paramount, and I trust that a second assessment will consider the facts and lead to a more equitable decision.
“Since being elected in 2019, I have helped to deliver over £400 million in additional government funding for projects in Blackpool – one of the highest amounts in the country. This has funded many different projects including much needed regeneration, upgrades to Blackpool Victoria’s A&E Department, and extra investment in our children’s education. I also recently introduced a new law to strengthen the rights of workers in Blackpool who are often on flexible contracts.
“My dedication to the people of Blackpool is unwavering, and I remain committed to working tirelessly on behalf of my constituents, campaigning on issues such as regenerating Bond Street & Central Drive, restoring commercial passenger flights to Blackpool Airport, and improving local GP and dentistry services. I look forward to continuing that work in the months ahead.”