The Sunday Express recently reported that I have broken one of the rules of the House of Commons. These things have a way of getting out of proportion, so I wanted to be very clear with everyone about what has happened.
All MPs have to register any outside interests, including shares they own in private companies.
Last year I failed to register my shareholding in a company called the Scottish Comedy Agency Limited. It wasn’t intentional - indeed, I thought I had included it in my registered interests. I certainly haven’t been quiet about my involvement in the company which I helped set up 12 years ago - its biggest activity is the Glasgow International Comedy Festival.
As soon as I found out my mistake I immediately contacted the registrar and registered my interests in the company and it’s now a matter of public record here. I also wrote to the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards apologising for the mistake and referring myself to her for investigation. She will decide if any further action needs to be taken.
I would stress that as soon as I was elected as an MP I stood down from my work for the SCA and the Stand Comedy Clubs and I have not received any fees or salary from either company. I also was not trying to hide anything. After all, my background in live comedy is fairly widely known – indeed, often commented upon in the press.
I am a member of the Standards Committee which oversees the rules. I have discussed my mistake with the Chair of that Committee and agreed with him that I will step aside until the Commissioner reports on the matter.
This is a breach of the rules which I take very seriously but there was no intention to deceive anyone. I think we need to distinguish between genuine mistakes and major conflicts of interest which may arise if MPs have other interests, particularly financial interests, outside of parliament.
The wait is nearly over. By next week the Tory party will have a new leader. And then they will foist him on the country at large. With most of the votes cast it seems that the clown prince is unstoppable. Barring a miracle Boris Johnson will be our next Prime Minister.
And then what?