Daniel Greenberg becomes MPs’ standards tsar in wake of outside job scandals | Politics

Daniel Greenberg has been confirmed as the UK’s new parliamentary standards commissioner and will take over from Kathryn Stone in January.

Stone has served in the position since 2018, her term coinciding with a number of high-profile sleaze scandals. Earlier this year, the Commons standards committee published a report that included a number of recommendations for tightening the rules at Westminster, including an outright ban on MPs providing paid parliamentary advice, consultancy or strategy services.

It followed the outcry over disclosures that the Tories’ Owen Paterson broke the ban on paid lobbying by MPs while the Conservative backbencher Geoffrey Cox earned more than £900,000 last year from his work as a lawyer. Paterson later resigned his safe Conservative seat of North Shropshire, triggering a byelection that was won by the Lib Dems.

Paterson now faces being fined after a Whitehall watchdog provisionally concluded that he broke transparency rules by failing to register as a lobbyist for a healthcare firm. On Friday, Harry Rich, the registrar of consultant lobbyists, said he proposed to conclude that Paterson had acted unlawfully when he lobbied ministers on behalf of Randox. The watchdog intends to fine Paterson up to £7,500 but gave the former MP an opportunity to overturn the decision.

The announcement comes a year after the former cabinet minister resigned after parliament’s watchdog ruled that he broke House of Commons rules by repeatedly lobbying for Randox and another firm that paid him.

Greenberg is currently the counsel for domestic legislation in the Commons and was previously parliamentary counsel for 20 years.

With Stone as commissioner, the committee had sought views on whether restrictions should be placed on MPs’ outside earnings in a review of the MPs’ code of conduct.

But in March, a report by Sir Ernest Ryder also recommended the tsar have its decision-making powers stripped back. Ryder’s report noted how Stone’s role was to be “both the investigator and the decision-maker” on whether an MP had broken conduct rules.

Standards were tightened to stop MPs voting against their own suspension, and an appeals process against disciplinary decisions made by the Committee on Standards was approved.

In the Commons on Tuesday, Labour’s Chris Bryant, in supporting Greenberg’s appointment, said the recruitment company had received fewer applications than hoped to succeed Stone.

“I asked it why that was and it said: ‘Well, you’ve only got to read the newspapers to see why.’ Kathryn Stone has faced pretty ferocious, sustained attacks in the media, including from quite a number of colleagues in the House.

“There have been times when I have felt such admiration for her because she has managed not to soldier on – that is not quite the kind of person she is – but to keep going with clarity and without any sense of bearing a grudge or anything like that. However, it must have been tough for her. That has made it difficult for us to find candidates.”