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Menston and Burley MP facing a probe over trip to races
Menston and Burley-in-Wharfedale MP Philip Davies has admitted he may have slipped up, as Parliament’s watchdog probes a paid-for trip he took to the Cheltenham Festival.
The parliamentary standards commissioner has started an investigation into a complaint that the Conservative backbencher failed to fully declare hospitality worth an estimated £870.
Mr Davies, a keen horse racing fan, visited the Cheltenham Festival in March 2011, as a guest of the bookmaker Ladbrokes.
However, he failed to mention the gift when, seven months later, he quizzed Richard Glynn, the chief executive of Ladbrokes, during a select committee session.
Mr Davies is a prominent member of the culture, media and sport select committee, which carried out an investigation into the betting trade.
Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, is investigating. A spokesman said: “An inquiry is ongoing.”
Mr Davies said: “I probably should have mentioned the Cheltenham visit at the committee. If I had my time again, I would refer to it.
“However, there was no attempt to conceal anything. It was simply that – seven months later – it never occurred to me at that moment.
“It also made no difference whatsoever to the inquiry the committee carried out or the report, which was agreed unanimously – so I don’t think I really did anything wrong.”
Mr Davies said he had offered his resignation to the committee, but none of the other ten members, including Labour MPs, believed he should quit.
A second complaint relates to an annual subscription Mr Davies receives from Peninsula Business Services, to cover any costs relating to industrial tribunals.
The company is run by Peter Done, whose brother founded BetFred, the bookmaker which took over the Tote and has 1,000 betting shops in Britain.
Mr Davies has argued it was not relevant to declare the subscription at the committee hearing, because the firm offers employment services – with no connection to gambling.
Several national newspapers have published corrections, after wrongly stating that Mr Davies failed to register the Cheltenham trip in the Commons register.
In fact, it was registered – and the complaint relates simply to the failure to declare the fact before the select committee.
If the Commissioner finds against Mr Davies, it can require him to “rectify” any error. More serious cases are also investigated by the all-party Committee on Standards and Privileges.