A complaint against MP Liam Byrne for using expenses on his unsuccessful quest to become mayor of the West Midlands was upheld by a parliamentary investigation.
According to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), there is “overwhelming evidence” that a Labour MP’s staff member worked on his campaign during regular business hours.
According to Mr. Byrne, when the employee engaged in political activity, they were “not on the clock” in terms of their Ipsa-contracted duties.
However, he acknowledged that he could have more formally established working protocols to prevent the crossing, which occurred when a member of the parliamentary staff worked on his 2021 campaign for mayor of the West Midlands before he was defeated by Conservative Andy Street.
The campaign effort, according to Birmingham Hodge Hill’s MP, was done while on leave or voluntarily.
Ipsa upheld the complaint but decided against going in the direction of reimbursement since it was impossible to determine what financial penalty may be imposed.
The report said: “The compliance officer has determined the staff member did work on the mayoral campaign during some of the time they were contracted to work for the MP in his parliamentary role.
“The compliance officer believes there is overwhelming evidence that many of the mayoral events/activities took place during the staff member’s contracted hours.”
The compliance officer was “willing to accept the point that Mr. Byrne did not deliberately exploit the imbalance of power,” it said, but it was observed he failed to put in place safeguards to separate his parliamentary job from his campaign effort.
The use of MPs’ allowances paid for by the taxpayer for political campaigns is prohibited.
According to a statement made on Mr. Byrne’s behalf, “Mr. Byrne is very appreciative of the Ipsa investigator for her thorough inquiry, which, as Mr. Byrne maintained the entire time, clearly establishes that no refund of money to Ipsa is requested or necessary.
“Mr Byrne fully agrees with the conclusion that stronger safeguards are needed for MPs, such as volunteer agreements and contractual clarity around delivery of set hours where time was worked flexibly, to guard against lines ‘getting blurred’ between political and parliamentary work.
“As such, Mr Byrne strongly supports the recommendations made by the Ipsa investigator that Ipsa contracts now need reform to ensure protection of the public purse and profoundly thanks her for her exhaustive investigation.”