North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has made a public apology to the House of Commons after sharing a confidential report to payday lender Wonga.
On Thursday 15 September, a report published by the Committee of Privileges found that Justin Tomlinson MP had breached the House of Commons Rules of Conduct by sharing a draft Public Accounts Committee report in 2013. This report follows a complaint made against Mr Tomlinson by Wonga (WDFC UK Ltd).
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has found that Mr Tomlinson was neither motivated by nor received any financial gain as a result of sharing the report. A national newspaper has since retracted an article they published that suggested Mr Tomlinson had made financial gain and has issued an apology.
MPs will decide in October whether to accept the commissioner’s recommendation of a two-day suspension.
On Thursday Mr Tomlinson made the following statement to the House of Commons in response to the findings of the Committee of Privileges and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:
“Speaker, with your permission I would like to make a personal statement.
“In response to the report published by the Privileges Committee today and the report published by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, I wanted to take this opportunity to make a full and unreserved apology to you and to the House.
“In 2013 I breached the rules of conduct by sharing a draft report by the Committee of Public Accounts regarding the regulation of consumer credit. An investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards was initiated in 2015 following a complaint made by Wonga.
“I completely accept the findings of the report published today by the Privileges Committee and the report submitted by the Commissioner for Standards. I accept that my actions in sharing the report constitute an interference in the work of the Committee of Public Accounts, and for this I am truly sorry. This was never my intention.
“These actions came as a result of my own naivety, driven by a desire to strengthen regulations on payday lenders and protect vulnerable consumers. The Commissioner for Standards confirmed this as my motivation based on evidence that I had worked on cross-party campaigns to protect consumers, and that I had long argued for tighter regulation of the payday lending industry.
“I welcome the report’s conclusion that my actions were not motivated by financial gain and that the report states that I “did not act in the way I did for financial gain nor with the intention of reflecting the views of the company concerned. I also appreciate the acknowledgement that the national newspaper story following the start of the investigation was unsubstantiated.
“I have accepted full responsibility since the very beginning of this process and as acknowledged in the report, I have provided “an unreserved acceptance of the findings of the Commissioner and have cooperated throughout three different inquiries.
“I would like to add my thanks both to the Privileges Committee, the Clerk of that Committee and the Commissioner for Standards, for their diligent work throughout this process.
“Mr Speaker, I reiterate my apology today and am very grateful that the House has allowed me to make this apology at the earliest opportunity.”