A campaign group named 'Led By Donkeys' claimed that former UK Conservative cabinet ministers Matt Hancock and Kwasi Kwarteng were caught quoting a consultancy rate of £10,000 to a fake overseas company in a sting operation.
The group created a fake company called Hanseong Consulting, claiming to be expanding into Europe, and approached 20 MPs from various parties to join its international advisory board. Out of the five who were invited to an online interview, four were Tories including Sir Graham Brady and former education secretary Gavin Williamson. No accusations of wrongdoing have been made and MPs are permitted to work outside of Parliament.
About the Sting Operation
Led By Donkeys, an anti-Brexit group, created a fake company, Hanseong Consulting, which purported to be expanding into the UK and Europe. It then approached 20 MPs from various political parties to join its international advisory board. Of the five who progressed to an online interview, four were Tories including Sir Graham Brady and former education secretary Gavin Williamson.
Quoting consultancy rates of former British ministers
During the interviews, both Matt Hancock and Kwasi Kwarteng were alleged to have quoted a daily consultancy rate of £10,000 to the fake company. When asked if he had a daily rate, Hancock replied, "I do, yes. It is 10,000 sterling." Kwarteng, when asked the same question, said he would prefer a monthly rate in pound sterling but wouldn't take anything less than $10,000.
No accusations of wrongdoing was made
Led By Donkeys has stated that no accusations of wrongdoing have been made, and MPs are permitted to have second jobs on top of their role representing constituents. A spokesperson for Matt Hancock said that the accusations were "completely untrue to suggest any wrongdoing and therefore absurd to bring Mr Hancock into this story through the illegal publication of a private conversation."
Implications for External Employment
The incident has reignited debate over the issue of external employment for MPs. While it is legal for MPs to have second jobs, questions have been raised over the appropriateness of such work given the potential for conflicts of interest. The issue has come under the spotlight in recent years following the suspension of former Tory cabinet minister Owen Paterson from the Commons for breaching lobbying rules in 2021.
The sting operation by Led By Donkeys has revealed the extent of the consultancy rates that some MPs are willing to charge for external work. While no accusations of wrongdoing have been made, the incident has reignited debate over the appropriateness of MPs having second jobs. The issue is likely to remain contentious in the coming months as the public seeks greater transparency and accountability from their elected representatives.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)