David Blackburn

Laws punished but in the clear

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Sir John Lyon, has delivered his report on David Laws’ expenses claims. The headline is as expected: ‘Mr Laws was guilty of a series of serious breaches of the rules’, and it is recommended that he be suspended for 7 days from 7 June.

It is a stern punishment for a serious transgression. However, nothing has really changed since Laws resigned from the government last May, because Lyon has not disinterred anything new. Crucially, the report accepts Laws’ explanation that he was conniving to protect his privacy, not to increase his personal wealth. For example, in paragraph 36 Lyon says that Laws would have been paid more in expenses had he followed the rules.

The political significance of this is clear: Laws’ reputation has not been further diminished and therefore he could conceivably return to government, perhaps as part of the reshuffle expected next March.

UPDATE: Laws has issued a statement in response to apologise sincerely for his misdoings and fully accept the commissioner’s judgment; you can read it here. He will then formally apologise to the House of Commons at 1pm today.

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