Jim Murphy response in full


Read Jim Murphy's response in full on politics.co.uk:

I remind the House of my properly declared interest and thank the Secretary of State for his statement.

I enjoy shadowing him in the House of Commons and we have until now had a good working relationship.

Indeed, he will know that for the first month of this I defended him until he started to defend himself and his answers unravelled.

But Mr Speaker, this whole crisis is self inflicted.

There have been daily revelations, which barely 36 hours ago he described as “baseless”. Yet yesterday he was forced into a partial and belated apology.

But it’s not a partial apology we want, it’s full and complete disclosure.

So today we will listen with great care to any questions he doesn’t fully answer.

Some will question the loyalty of a friend who abuses his contacts in this way, and many will doubt the judgement of a Secretary of State who willingly allows himself to be professionally compromised in this way.

But this isn’t just about the Secretary of State’s judgement, it’s also about his conduct and breaches of the Ministerial Code.

The Code is clear:

7.1 “Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or reasonably be perceived to arise, between their public duties and their private interests”

Yesterday the Defence Secretary apologised for the “misleading impression” his actions may have given. His apology is a clear admission of a Breach.

So, it’s beyond doubt that that he has breached the Ministerial Code. The only issue is on how many grounds and on how many occasions?

Section 5.2 of the Code says:

“Ministers have a duty to give fair consideration and due weight to informed and impartial advice from civil servants”

The Secretary of State claims that the infamous meeting in Dubai happened by chance.

However, the email trail makes clear that it was a pre-planned encounter. And it now appears that Mr Werritty tried to cover up its very existence.

So, why did he tell the BBC on Saturday that the meeting happened by chance?

Why did he exclude civil servants from that meeting?

Did he ask for advice and briefing before the Dubai meeting?

Did he seek civil service advice in advance of any of his 14 meetings with Werritty?

If so, will he publish all such advice? Together with a full list of topics discussed. And any actions taken by his private office, or his special advisers following those meetings.

The Secretary of State has admitted that distinctions between his professional responsibilities and personal loyalties have been blurred.

Again, the Ministerial Code is clear:

Paragraph 7.3 says “On appointment to each new office, Ministers must provide their Permanent Secretary with a full list in writing of all interests which might be thought to give rise to a conflict.”

In 7.4 it goes on: “Where appropriate, the Minister will meet the Permanent Secretary and the independent adviser on Ministers’ interests to agree action on the handling of interests.”

So in their first day in a new job every Minister has to make a declaration. Under 7.5 of the Code these Statements of Ministerial interests are published every six months. And the Secretary of State’s entry makes interesting reading. There are mentions of good organisations like the Strawberry Line Café Project in his constituency but no mention of his advisor, who ran a defence consultancy, arranged his meetings and handed out his business cards across the world.

Did he provide full and complete disclosure to his Permanent Secretary about his links to Adam Werritty and his defence consultancy ‘Security Futures’?

What advice did the Permanent Secretary give him and what was agreed on the handling of this interest?

Will he now publish the record of his action he supplied to the Permanent Secretary when he took up the job?

In the media this morning the former Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Jock Stirrup is reported as saying he raised his concerns with the Secretary of State's office.
Is this true and has the current or any previous Permanent Secretary ever raised their concerns about his professional proximity to Mr Werrity with him or his office?

Looking at the Ministerial Code, it is clear that on sections 5.2, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5, the Secretary of State has driven a Coach and Horses through the rules.

The Secretary of State cannot believe that yesterday’s partial apology is a free pass round breaches of the Ministerial Code.

Our forces look to him for leadership.

When they step out of line, when they break the rules, they take responsibility and accept the full consequences. They – and we – expect no less of the Defence Secretary. I hope he has done nothing wrong but the only way to clear his name is total transparency which is why I welcome the Prime Minister referring his case to the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests.

We may never know what got the Secretary of State into this crisis, whether it was arrogance, naivety or hubris.

“The British people expect the highest standards of conduct… We must be…transparent about what we do and how we do it. Determined to act in the national interest, above improper influence”.

Not my words but those of the Prime Minister in the Ministerial Code.

The Prime Minster must now apply those standards to the Secretary of State otherwise the Ministerial Code is not worth the paper it is written on.