Kathryn Stone is the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards of the House of Commons.
In November of last year I wrote about The Commons Select Committee On Standards and Owen Paterson’s lobbying that resulted in him resigning as an MP. Before that happened, the then Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News that he believed she should review her position after her suspension of Owen Paterson was blocked by Parliament.
As I said then, Kwasi Kwarteng was wrong. He was wrong on facts because Kathryn Stone didn’t suspend Owen Patterson. It wasn’t ‘her’ suspension at all. She reported to the Committee and they suspended him.
So now today we have a new matter, and you would have thought that having had their noses bloodied once, the Conservatives would have learned to back off from Kathryn Stone. But no, now we have the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen. He was suspended for five days for serially breaching the lobbying rules. He appealed and failed to convince the The Independent Expert Panel to overturn the suspension.
According to the IEP report, in his appeal Bridgen criticised standards commissioner Kathryn Stone’s investigation as flawed for multiple reasons. Plainly, neither she, nor the Standards Committee, nor the Independent Expert Panel agreed. So Kathryn Stone is in good company.
The Independent Expert Panel was chaired by a retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Irwin. He didn’t mince words saying the Mr Brigden offered no evidence and simply said that the sanctions were excessive. Sr Stephen said “We disagree. Indeed, in our view the sanctions for breach of the rule against paid advocacy and for the email letter could properly and fairly have been more severe.”