The Conduct of Baroness
1. The Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct have investigated
the conduct of Baroness Uddin. The Sub-Committee's report is printed
as an Appendix to this Report.
2. The Sub-Committee's investigation into the
conduct of Lady Uddin should be read in parallel with its investigations
in the conduct of Lord Bhatia and Lord Paul. All three cases arise
out of articles originally appearing in The Sunday Times,
and each raises similar issues. Each of the Sub-Committee's reports
contains similar background analysis (for instance, of the rules
governing the Members' Reimbursement Scheme).
3. But, however similar the issues, the facts
of each case are wholly distinct and have required separate consideration.
The Sub-Committee, and we ourselves, have therefore prepared three
4. The process followed in this case is summarised
in paragraphs 5-6 of the Sub-Committee's report. The original
allegations against Lady Uddin appeared on 3 May 2009; a complaint
was made the same day by Angus Robertson MP. The initial investigation
was conducted by the Clerk of the Parliaments as Accounting Officer,
but was then suspended while a separate investigation was conducted
by the Metropolitan Police Service. Following a decision by the
Metropolitan Police Service and Crown Prosecution Service not
to prosecute Lady Uddin, announced on 12 March 2010, the Clerk
of the Parliaments immediately asked the Sub-Committee "to
investigate and determine the facts of the case".
5. The procedure in these cases follows that
agreed by the House in December 2008,
whereby the Clerk of the Parliaments can request the assistance
of the Sub-Committee in investigating complaints which he considers
"complex or serious". As a Sub-Committee of the Committee
for Privileges and Conduct, the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct
normally reports to the parent Committee. But, as this case was
referred to the Sub-Committee by the Clerk of the Parliaments,
the Sub-Committee reported to the Clerk of the Parliaments. He,
given the nature of the sanctions recommended by the Sub-Committee,
forwarded the report in turn to this Committee.
6. The Sub-Committee, following an investigation
which had been interrupted by the dissolution of Parliament, sent
its report to the Clerk of the Parliaments on 28 July. The Sub-Committee
also recommended that, in order to preserve confidentiality, the
Clerk of the Parliaments should not disclose the report to any
other person until late in the summer recess. He accordingly forwarded
the report to the staff of this Committee in late September, and
a copy was at once sent to Lady Uddin, on 21 September. She was
at the same time notified of her right to appeal against the Sub-Committee's
findings to the Committee for Privileges and Conduct. She submitted
her appeal on 5 October, also indicating her wish to appear in
person before the Select Committee at its meeting on 11 October.
7. Although the Sub-Committee's report was forwarded
to this Committee in its entirety, certain matters covered in
it relate to the administration of the Members' Reimbursement
Scheme (for instance, the changes which the Sub-Committee indicates
were made to the Scheme in April 2009, referred to in paragraphs
27 and 90-91 of the Sub-Committee's report), rather than to the
privileges of the House or the Code of Conduct. It is for the
House Committee, as the Committee responsible for the Members'
Reimbursement Scheme, to take forward these matters, on which
we make no recommendations.
8. Our responsibility is to address the conduct
of Members who are alleged to have breached rules agreed by the
House, and, where appropriate, to recommend sanctions to the House
as a whole. The House has previously resolved that it "possesses
the same disciplinary powers in respect of breaches of the Members'
Reimbursement Scheme as in respect of breaches of the Code of
Conduct or of other rules of conduct adopted by the House".
The Sub-Committee's findings
9. The focus of the investigation has been Lady
Uddin's use of the Members' Reimbursement Scheme since 3 May 2005
(in other words, exactly four years before the complaint was received).
The Sub-Committee has divided this period into three periods:
· During the first period (3 May 2005 to
31 July 2005) Lady Uddin designated a house in Frinton on Sea,
Essex, as her main residence. The house is owned by Lady Uddin's
brother and sister-in-law, who have lived there since 1999.
· During the second period (lasting altogether
from 1 August 2005 until 1 January 2010) Lady Uddin designated
a flat in Maidstone, Kent, as her main residence. The Sub-Committee
has sub-divided this period into further periods, up to and after
24 April 2009, the date on which Lady Uddin became aware of the
Sunday Times' interest in her main residence.
· Since 1 January 2010 Lady Uddin has designated
a property in Wapping, London, as her main residence. This property,
a three-bedroom house rented from a housing association, has been
Lady Uddin's family home since 1993, and there is no question
that she is entitled to designate it as her main residence.
10. According to Lady's Uddin's own account,
she started using the Frinton property as a "bolt-hole"
in around 2000. She designated it as her "main residence"
in 2001, but continued to live in the family home during the week,
spending most weekends in Frinton. She had her own room in the
house, and lived as part of the family.
11. The house in Frinton was owned and occupied
by her brother and sister-in-law; although it was available to
her as a bolt-hole, her family home remained in London. The Sub-Committee
concluded that Lady Uddin did not have a sufficient connection
with the Frinton property to designate it as her main residence.
12. In 2005 Lady Uddin bought the flat in Maidstone,
and told the Sub-Committee that her purpose in so doing was to
acquire a bolt-hole of her own. The Maidstone flat is the only
property owned by Lady Uddin. Having designated it as her main
residence, she claimed night subsistence for time spent away from
Maidstone every week when the House was sitting; she claimed the
mileage allowance for journeys to and from Maidstone every weekend
when the House was sitting.
13. The Sub-Committee's findings of fact in respect
of the Maidstone flat, up to 24 April 2009, are set out in paragraphs
101-105 of its report. On the one hand the Sub-Committee had Lady
Uddin's own evidence, given either in writing or orally, along
with the details of her claims. On the other hand, it had transcripts
of interviews covertly recorded by The Sunday Times,
and extensive evidence, including formal witness statements, collected
in the course of the police investigation. The Sub-Committee placed
considerable weight on these statements, made for the most part
by neighbours of Lady Uddin in Maidstone. Our conclusions on the
status of these statements are set out in paragraphs 34-40 below.
14. Lady Uddin told the Sub-Committee that she
had stayed overnight in Maidstone almost every weekend when the
House was sitting. However, the Sub-Committee pointed to several
inconsistencies and contradictions within her evidence at different
times (paragraph 103). The Sub-Committee did not itself examine
the other witnesses, and acknowledged that it was unable to form
judgments as to their individual credibility. However, taking
into account the high level of consistency between the witness
statements, and between those statements and the interviews recorded
by The Sunday Times, the Sub-Committee decided that
it could "rely on the essence of these witness statements
taken as a whole" (paragraph 104). These statements "together
prove, well beyond the balance of probabilities, that Lady Uddin
in this period did not stay at the Maidstone property for the
minimum of one weekend per month over the year when the House
was sitting." The Sub-Committee concluded, on the basis of
this finding, that Lady Uddin was wrong to designate the Maidstone
flat as her main residence.
15. On 24 April 2009 Lady Uddin became aware
of the Sunday Times' interest in the Maidstone flat. From
this point there is clear evidence of frequent visits to the flat.
However, taking the circumstances into account, the Sub-Committee
concluded that her presence in Maidstone increased "only
in an attempt to suggest that the property was and had been her
main residence since August 2005". The Sub-Committee therefore
found that, notwithstanding the frequency of her visits, the flat
still "did not acquire the character of a main residence
within any natural meaning of the words".
16. The Sub-Committee then considered whether
Lady Uddin acted in good faith in making her designations and
claims (paragraphs 113-117). For reasons which are set out in
more detail below, we consider these paragraphs to be particularly
crucial. The Sub-Committee concluded that the interpretation advanced
by Lady Uddin of the term "main residence" was itself
unreasonable; and moreover that her designation of both the Frinton
and Maidstone properties as "main residences" was "a
deliberate misrepresentation of her position even on the basis
of her understanding of the scheme". Her travel claims, in
the Sub-Committee's view, were made only "with the intention
of adding verisimilitude to her designation of her main residences".
In total, the Sub-Committee calculated that she wrongly claimed
£125,349.10 over the period in question.
17. In conclusion, the Sub-Committee recommended
that Lady Uddin be required to make a personal statement of apology
to the House; and that she be suspended from the service of the
House for three years or until she has repaid the sum of £125,349.10,
whichever is the later (paragraph 123).
Lady Uddin's appeal
18. Lady Uddin's appeal, signed on her behalf
by Thompsons Solicitors and Gavin Millar QC, challenges the Sub-Committee's
interpretation of the facts in detail. In particular the appeal
analyses at length the interviews recorded by The Sunday
Times, and the witness statements made to the police, with
a view to demonstrating that the Sunday Times journalists
asked leading or slanted questions, encouraging biased and unreliable
responses; and that the witness statements contradict each other
and also contradict the earlier interviews with The Sunday
19. The appeal also notes that the Sub-Committee
did not bring forward any clear evidence that Lady Uddin was not
in the flat on any of the days when she claimed to be there (such
as evidence to show that she was in another part of the country).
To paraphrase this element within the appeal, the evidence advanced
to show that Lady Uddin did not go to the flat constitutes an
attempt to "prove a negative".
20. The appeal sets out a number of other specific
grounds of appeal. These may be summarised as follows.
21. Lady Uddin's appeal says that the Sub-Committee
acted unfairly, in particular that it failed to comply with the
requirement, in the 2001 Code of Conduct, that Members under investigation
be afforded procedural safeguards as rigorous as those applied
in the courts and disciplinary bodies. For instance, the Sub-Committee
failed to test the statements provided by other witnesses, in
the way that Lady Uddin's evidence was tested in the course of
her meeting with the Sub-Committee.
22. The appeal says that the witnesses were biased
against Lady Uddin, by the initial questioning by the Sunday
Times journalists and by the subsequent publicity.
STANDARD OF PROOF
23. The appeal also argues that the Sub-Committee
should have applied the criminal standard of proof to this case,
on the basis that "in the public eye the decision of the
House will be tantamount to conviction for a criminal offence".
LACK OF EVIDENCE IN RESPECT OF FRINTON
24. The appeal notes that the witness statements
relate only to Lady Uddin's Maidstone property; the Sub-Committee's
reasoning on the Maidstone flat "cannot be relied upon to
draw adverse inference as to Lady Uddin's credibility in relation
to [Frinton]." Even if Lady Uddin erred in designating the
property in Frinton as her main residence, she did so honestly,
and on the basis of advice from her Chief Whip. Lady Uddin's appeal
then addresses the recommended sanction. It states that she does
not have the means to repay £125,349.10, and that in practice
therefore the sanction will result in indefinite suspension from
the House. It is suggested that such a sanction is "arbitrary",
given that the Sub-Committee "made no enquiry of Lady Uddin's
means before recommending [it]". The appeal also argues that
wrong in principle that the length of a suspension
should depend upon the Member's means".
EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE THE COMMITTEE
FOR PRIVILEGES AND CONDUCT
25. Lady Uddin appeared before this Committee
on 11 October 2010. A full transcript of her evidence is printed
in this volume (see p 218).
Conduct of the Sub-Committee
26. Although not part of her Appeal, Lady Uddin
also submitted as evidence a statement by Baroness McDonagh, who
accompanied her when she gave evidence to the Sub-Committee. Lady
McDonagh alleges that the Sub-Committee's procedures in the course
of the meeting were inadequate, poorly explained or unfair (see
pp 215F). The Sub-Committee had already addressed these issues
in general terms (paragraph 13 of the report), but in order to
be fair to the Sub-Committee we invited its Chairman, Baroness
Manningham-Buller, to respond to the specific allegations. Her
letter to the Chairman of Committees is printed at p 216G.
27. Lady McDonagh's allegations were not presented
to us as a ground of appeal, and we have not been required to
reach a formal decision on them.
The views of the Committee
THE STANDARD OF PROOF
28. Lady Uddin's appeal argues that the Sub-Committee
should have applied (and, by implication, this Committee should
apply) the criminal standard of proof ("beyond reasonable
doubt") to this case. Instead, the Sub-Committee applied
the test set out in the Report on procedure: "in order to
find against a Member, the Sub-Committee requires at least that
the allegation is proved on the balance of probabilities".
This Report, and the procedure it describes, was agreed by the
House on 18 December 2008.
29. The words "at least", in the passage
just quoted, indicate that there is an element of flexibility
inherent within this standard of proof. This was confirmed in
our Report on the conduct of Lords Moonie, Snape, Truscott and
Taylor of Blackburn:
11. The standard of proof we have adopted in deciding
whether to uphold or reject the Sub-Committee's findings has been
the same as that applied by the Sub-Committee: in other words,
while taking the civil standard of proof, the balance of probabilities,
as the appropriate standard, we have, in the light of the seriousness
of the allegations, taken the view that particularly strong evidence
should be required before we may be satisfied that the allegations
This Report was agreed by the House on 20 May
30. Finally, the Guide to the new Code of Conduct,
which came into force at the start of the present Parliament (and
which will apply to any future investigations), states:
119. The civil standard of proof is adopted at all
stages in the enforcement process, not only by the Commissioner,
but by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct and the Committee for
Privileges and Conduct. Thus, in order to find against a Member,
the Commissioner will require at least that the allegation is
proved on the balance of probabilities.
This Report was agreed by the House on 16 March
31. In other words, the House has three times
explicitly endorsed the principle that the civil standard of proof
should be adopted in such investigations, while acknowledging
that within the civil standard a substantial degree of flexibility
is allowed in judging the strength of evidence required to justify
a finding against a Member. This is entirely appropriate: these
are internal disciplinary proceedings, and the sanctions to which
Members may be subject (including suspension from the House for
a period not exceeding the lifetime of the current Parliament)
are also internal in character. No criminal liability follows
from such a finding. Nor is there any read-across, in either direction,
between, for instance, our findings in this case and the conclusions
reached by the Director of Public Prosecutions (on which Lady
Uddin seeks to rely in paragraph 45 of her appeal).
32. Our approach to the question of the appropriate
standard of proof is entirely consistent with the approach taken
in the courts.
33. We reiterate the principle that the standard
of proof adopted in investigations should be that set out in the
Guide to the Code of Conduct, namely that the allegation should
be proved at least on the balance of probabilities. We have therefore
dismissed this element of Lady Uddin's appeal.
PROCEDURAL FAILURES AND BIAS
34. Lady Uddin alleges that the witnesses who
made statements in the course of the police investigation were
biased against her, by the initial questioning by the Sunday
Times journalists and by the subsequent publicity. She also
points to some contradictions either within or between some of
those statements. She argues that the procedure adopted in her
case was unfair, in that the Sub-Committee failed to test the
evidence provided by these witnesses, and did not afford her an
opportunity, either personally or through Counsel, to do so.
35. The Report on procedure, following the 2001
Code of Conduct, states that "in the investigation and adjudication
of complaints against them, Members of the House have the right
to safeguards as rigorous as those applied in the courts and professional
disciplinary bodies". The new Code of Conduct adopted in
2009, while it omits this provision, states that all those involved
in investigating allegations against Members "shall act in
accordance with the principles of natural justice and fairness".
36. The Report on procedure also stated that
"every effort is made to keep proceedings informal".
This creates a tension, between, on the one hand, the assurance
of procedural safeguards to Members, and, on the other, the House's
explicit endorsement of the principle that internal investigations
should not be treated as court proceedings, but should remain
informal and inquisitorial, rather than adversarial, in nature.
37. We consider that the Sub-Committee acted
in the present case fully in accordance with the procedures agreed
by the House. However, as we have noted, inherent in those procedures
is a tension. In seeking to reconcile that tension, we have concluded
that, as a point of principle, it is not fair to draw adverse
conclusions as to a Member's conduct, on the basis of hearsay
evidence that has not been tested.
38. In our Report of May 2009
we relied heavily on covert recordings of conversations between
undercover journalists and the four Members concerned. In that
case the four Members were judged on their own words: however
the recordings had been obtained, there was no doubt that they
had spoken the words recorded in the various transcripts. They
had ample opportunity to account for those words in the course
of the investigation.
39. In the present case we have been presented
with third-party statements. We intend no reflection on the quality
of those statementswe simply consider that without testing
the statements further it would be not be procedurally fair to
draw conclusions from them. We have therefore upheld this element
within Lady Uddin's appeal, and have attached no weight to the
transcripts provided by The Sunday Times, and the
witness statements supplied by the police, in determining this
40. We recognise that the conclusion just reached
raises serious questions as to the process for future investigations.
However, a new procedure is now in place: there will be no more
investigations under the 2001 Code. Under this new procedure,
the investigation is conducted by the Commissioner for Standards,
who presents findings of fact and his conclusions as to possible
breaches of the Code to the Sub-Committee. We recommend that,
in light of our conclusions on the present case, the Commissioner
and the Sub-Committee review the procedure agreed in March 2010,
with a view to establishing processes by means of which all relevant
evidence may be taken into account, while ensuring fair treatment
for any Member accused of misconduct.
FINDINGS OF FACT
41. Having attached no weight to the witness
statements and other third-party evidence, we must now consider
Lady Uddin's own evidence, oral and written, along with her original
claim forms. In so doing, we have paid particular attention to
the Sub-Committee's analysis of her understanding of the term
"main residence" in paragraphs 113-117 of its report.
42. The key issue in this case is whether or
not Lady Uddin's designation of her brother's house in Frinton
on Sea and, later, the flat in Maidstone as "main residences",
was based on a tenable and genuinely held understanding of the
meaning of that term.
43. The underlying purpose of night subsistence
payments was clear. They were intended to enable Members who lived
outside London, but who, in order to attend sittings of the House,
were required to stay within London (whether by staying in temporary
accommodation or by acquiring a permanent residence), to recover
some of the costs incurred in so doing:
4.4.1 Members whose main residence is outside Greater
London may claim for expenses of overnight accommodation in London
while away from their only or main residence ...
4.4.2 A Member whose main residence is outside Greater
London and who maintains a residence in London for the purpose
of attending sittings of the House may claim this allowance towards
the cost of maintaining such a residence.
44. These payments were not intended to enable
Members who lived inside London to acquire properties outside
London and designate these as their "main residences",
thereby establishing an entitlement to claim additional money
from the House, while continuing to live inside London. It is
a common element in the three cases we have been considering that
in each case the Members concerned had long-established London
residences, in which they spent the bulk of their time, before
acquiring a "main residence" outside London, in which
they spent a much smaller portion of their time.
45. Lady Uddin told us that she came to this
country from Bangladesh at the age of 13, and that since that
time her family has been settled in East London (Appeal, Q 1).
Her connection with East London is strong, and her family home
remains the house in Wapping, in which she has lived since 1993.
In evidence to the Sub-Committee, she acknowledged that she had
been "based in London over a long period of time", and
that, because of changing family circumstances, she needed what
she repeatedly described as a "bolt hole" outside London.
For a time she rented a flat in Windsor as a bolt hole; she later
stayed with her brother in Frinton on Sea; later still she acquired
the Maidstone flat. None of these actions affected the basic fact
that her home, her family and her social life were in London.
46. She told the Sub-Committee that she discussed
her position with her Chief Whip at the time (Lord Carter) and
her mentor (Baroness Pitkeathley), and that she acted "on
their advice" (Q 222). She never sought the advice of the
Finance Department on the rules (Q 225). When asked whether she
did not have a responsibility to check her interpretation against
the rules, she initially accepted that she did, before again referring
to the advice she said had been given to her by colleagues. But
Lord Carter is dead, and Lady Pitkeathley has provided a statement,
in which she says that "I certainly don't remember ever discussing
with her the definition of 'main residence'" (p 164E). It
is therefore impossible to substantiate Lady Uddin's claim that
she was advised by colleagues to designate a property outside
London as her "main residence".
47. Nevertheless, under detailed questioning
by the Sub-Committee, Lady Uddin consistently attributed her actions
to the advice she was given (see QQ 219-237). For instance, asked
why the Maidstone flat was her "main residence", she
replied: "Because that was my understanding. That was the
advice I had been given once I had described my circumstances
and so I was told that these are the rules as laid out" (Q
230). Throughout these exchanges, Lady Uddin failed to advance,
on her own behalf, any justification for describing these properties
as "main residences". Ultimately, her explanation was
that she had "two homes" and "two lives" (Q
237); however, this does not explain how, in balancing the demands
of these "two homes", she came to designate one rather
than the other as her "main residence".
48. It is telling that in the course of these
exchanges Lady Uddin described the Maidstone flat as her "main
bolt hole" (Q 236). The term occurs throughout her evidence
and the Sub-Committee's report. In presenting her appeal, Lady
Uddin put the following gloss upon it: "It was a place of
sanctuary, a place of home, a place where I felt safeall
those things ... I took it to be importanta place of safety,
a place that was critical to my survival." (Appeal, Q 6)
49. The Sub-Committee's commentary on this point,
reached in the context of Lady Uddin's designation of her brother's
house in Frinton, was as follows:
99. We accept that the Frinton property was of great
value to her as a "bolt hole". Due however to her return
on each occasion to her children and husband in the week, we do
not accept that the property ever acquired the character of a
main residence for the purpose of the members' reimbursement scheme.
50. We would go a step further. We do not consider
that a "bolt hole", as described by Lady Uddin, could
fall within any natural understanding of the term "main residence".
A bolt hole is merely a place of escape.
51. We are aware of the minimum requirement on
frequency of visits agreed by the House Committee, and applied
by the Clerk of the Parliaments in his investigations, namely
that "the main residence had to be visited for a minimum
of one weekend per month over the year when the House was sitting
and for periods during recesses" (quoted at paragraph 87
of the Sub-Committee report). But this requirement is not, and
was never intended to be, a definition of "main residence".
It is simply a minimum requirement, intended to be incorporated
"into [the Clerk of the Parliaments'] assessment of cases
where frequency of visit was an issue".
Frequency of visits is not an issue in a case such as the present,
where no reasonable or defensible understanding of the term "main
residence" has been advanced.
52. We therefore endorse the Sub-Committee's
finding that "The clear purpose of the scheme is the recovery
of expenses necessarily incurred in attending the House when away
from one's 'main residence' on any natural meaning of those words.
Lady Uddin's understanding of the scheme defeats its objective
and her understanding of 'main residence' is unreasonable"
(paragraph 115). She was therefore wrong to claim money from the
House in respect of either the Frinton or Maidstone properties.
53. We must consider also the Sub-Committee's
finding that in so doing, Lady Uddin acted in bad faith. She says
that she acted on advice, but admits that at no stage did she
seek the advice of the House authorities. Despite being repeatedly
asked about the term "main residence", she has at no
stage demonstrated an understanding of the term falling within
its natural meaning. In the words of the Sub-Committee, "Lady
Uddin's understanding of the scheme was that she could designate
as her main residence anywhere where she was staying at weekends
if it could be considered her home. If one had more than one residence,
it was a question of election: 'main' had no meaning." While
Lady Uddin told us of her bitter regret at any part she had played
in the damage done to the public perception of Parliament. She
has not acknowledged that she acted wrongly in making the claims,
and has offered only "a sincere and abject apology if I have
in any way, without any intention, by following what I thought
was the right thing to do, broken the House rules".
54. We dismiss Lady Uddin's appeal against
the Sub-Committee's finding that she wrongly claimed £125,349.10
in night subsistence and mileage allowance; instead, we endorse
that finding. We further find that Lady Uddin did not make her
claims for night subsistence away from the properties and for
the mileage allowance in good faith.
55. The Sub-Committee has recommended "that
the House sanction Lady Uddin by requiring her to make a personal
statement of apology to the House and thereafter suspending her
from the service of the House for three years or until she has
repaid the amount wrongly claimed whichever is the later."
56. As a point of principle, and regardless of
the circumstances of the present case, we have decided that the
length of suspension should not be determined by reference to
the time of repayment. Repayment is not a sanction: it is an act
of restitution, the returning of money wrongly claimed and paid.
The over-riding priority must be that this money should be returned
to the House, and thus to the public purse. Lady Uddin's appeal
makes the point that she does not have the means to repay so large
a sum. We are not in a position to comment on her financial circumstances,
but it is clear that the sanction recommended by the Sub-Committee
risks having the effect of preventing her indefinitely from returning
to the House. Not only is there a danger that an "indefinite
suspension" could exceed the powers of the House, which are
limited to suspension "for a defined period not longer than
the remainder of the current Parliament",
but there is also a possibility that an indefinite suspension
would result in the money never being recovered.
57. We endorse the finding that Lady Uddin
has wrongly claimed, and has received, the sum of £125,349.10,
to which she was not entitled. The recovery of this money is not
a disciplinary matter, and so is not a matter for this Committee.
We therefore recommend that it is for the Clerk of the Parliaments,
as Accounting Officer, consulting the House Committee as necessary,
to consider what arrangements with Lady Uddin may be necessary
to secure repayment of this sum to the House.
58. With regard to apology and suspension, we
consider that the greater penalty, suspension, renders the lesser,
apology, unnecesary. Nor would it be fair, in a case where the
Member concerned has maintained his or her innocence of any misconduct,
to require an apology immediately prior to suspension. We therefore
confine our recommended sanction to suspension.
59. In considering the appropriate length of
suspension in Lady Uddin's case, we have placed due weight on
the Sub-Committee's recommendation. We are fully aware of the
seriousness of the present case, in particular the lengthy period
over which claims were made wrongly and in bad faith. But we are
also aware that the only suspensions imposed by the House hitherto,
in May 2009, were for the remainder of the 2009-10 session (just
under six months, of which over two months fell in recess). A
suspension of three years is of a different order, and much longer
also than the suspensions recommended in the other two cases we
have considered with this one. We have also taken into account
the fact that the House has no power to suspend a Member for longer
than the remainder of the Parliament. Even in a five-year Parliament,
a suspension for three years could not be imposed after the first
two years. In other words, the imposition of a suspension of that
duration would set a "tariff" that, for most of a five-year
Parliament, would exceed the maximum duration of suspension available
to the House. Thus, while fully acknowledging the seriousness
of this case, we do not consider a three-year suspension appropriate.
60. We recommend that Baroness Uddin be suspended
from the service of the House until the end of the current session
of Parliament. We understand that the session is to continue until
61. The Sub-Committee reported that Lady Uddin
has requested the redaction of certain sensitive material in the
report and evidence, in particular material relating to her family
circumstances. The Sub-Committee felt that this material was essential
to its analysis of the facts of the case, and therefore rejected
her request, while inviting us to consider the redaction of other
material, specifically that relating to her children.
62. We have decided to accede to Lady Uddin's
original request, on the basis that these materials are of only
tangential relevance to our main findings in this case. We have
also decided to redact certain personal address details, both
of Lady Uddin, and of her family and neighbours. All such redactions
are indicated by the blocking out of the relevant text.
1 All references in this Report to the Members' Reimbursement
Scheme refer to the Scheme that applied until 30 September 2010.
As a result of a motion agreed by the House on 20 July 2010, the
day subsistence, night subsistence and office costs elements within
the Scheme were combined in a new daily allowance, with effect
from 1 October 2010. Back
The Code of Conduct: procedure for considering complaints
against Members, Committee for Privileges, 4th Report, session
2007-08 (HL Paper 205). Hereafter referred to as the "Report
on procedure". Back
The conduct of Lord Clarke of Hampstead, Committee for
Privileges, 4th Report, session 2009-10, HL Paper 112, paragraph
The Conduct of Lord Moonie, Lord Snape, Lord Truscott and
Lord Taylor of Blackburn, Committee for Privileges, 2nd Report,
session 2008-09 (HL Paper 88-I). Back
The Guide to the Code of Conduct, Committee for Privileges,
2nd Report, session 2009-10 (HL Paper 81). Back
See Lord Hoffmann in In re B (Children) (FC)  UKHL
35. See also Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead in In re H (Minors)(Sexual
Abuse: Standard of Proof)  AC 563, 586D-H, and Lord
Bingham of Cornhill in B v Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset
Constabulary  1 WLR 340. Back
2nd Report, session 2008-09 (HL Paper 88-I). Back
House Committee minutes, quoted at paragraph 87 of the Sub-Committee's
The Powers of the House in respect of its Members, Committee
for Privileges, First Report, session 2008-09 (HL Paper 87), paragraph