Conor Burns resigns as trade minister after a report found he had used his parliamentary privilege “in an attempt to intimidate a member of the public ” in a dispute concerning his father.
An investigation upheld a complaint that Burns, a long-standing ally of Boris Johnson, used parliamentary stationery to “deal with purely personal family interest and that Mr. Burns was attempting to use parliamentary privilege to secure payment for his father.” In correspondence to the complainant, he wrote on House stationery: “I am acutely aware that my role in the public eye could well attract interest, especially if I were to use parliamentary privilege to raise the case.”
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The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards concluded “letter to the complainant was concerned solely with a personal financial situation and not sent in support of his parliamentary activities,” and therefore in breach of the rules.
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The Committee unanimously accepted the Commissioner’s report, “Mr. Burns had been under a considerable degree of personal stress, and that he had apologized for the Committee.” The Committee recommended that Burns should suspend from service of the House for seven days and that he should write an apology to the Speaker of the House and the complainant as the injured party.
Mr. Burns tweeted today that he was resigning from the government with ‘deep regret,’ and the PM would continue to have my’ wholehearted support.’
The report also accused Mr. Burns of behaving ‘disrespectfully’ during her investigation, saying his behavior ‘gives fuel to the belief that Members are able and willing to use the privileges accorded them by their membership of the House to benefit their interests.’