Following questions to his office and some other panel members about Crispin Blunt MP’s work with international detention review panels of Parliamentarians, Mr Blunt said it did not occur to him that there would be an issue using a room in Parliament at no cost to the taxpayer.
“It was a Parliamentary panel although one not formed as either an All Party Parliamentary Group or a Select Committee. I have chaired three of these detention review panels over recent years and as the panel members were all parliamentarians, each panel cross party, advised by legal counsel, examining matters of serious public and human rights concern, that on any reasonable interpretation the work would meet a definition of being “Parliamentary”.
Whilst the panel Members were paid a fee in respect of their time and expertise devoted to the work, declared in the usual way, the process was open to public scrutiny throughout, evidence openly invited and the reports published and journalists invited to a press conference with the Parliamentarians in a Parliamentary conference room to examine them on their conclusions.”
Mr Blunt believed that some of the wider questions being raised, in this instance around the use of a room, about MPs work that is plainly in the wider public interest, and around declared compensation for the additional time and expertise, was an example of the increasingly disproportionate feeding frenzy coverage by the media that was now doing wider damage to the institution of Parliament by creating a wholly inaccurate image in the mind of the wider public.
He further said, “The media have implicit responsibilities too in a democracy to its institutions, as they are the institutions that enable their freedom too. Any journalist that feels there is a serious issue engaged around improper use of Parliamentary facilities in relation to these detention review panels is of course free to raise it with the Commissioner for Standards as well as report it. Whether that would be a useful employment of her time would then in due course be for her and others to judge. I’ve no doubt such reporting will motivate someone to make such a complaint, but I’d be surprised if the journalist reporting this issue would make the complaint themselves.”