Monday, 31 March 2008
Lembit Opik has been rather busy recently correcting newspapers on the chronology of his private life so it's perhaps understandable he appears to have forgotten to declare some extra income.
PR Week has highlighted the Montgomeryshire MP's failure to register cheques totalling £2,400 he received from a lobbying firm for presentational work.
Hacks were put on the scent by an encounter between MPs on the public administration committee at Westminster and Mike Grannatt of Luther Pendragon, the lobbying and PR firm who represented the Commons Speaker in recent troubled times.
The extract from the committee minutes is an entertaining read:
Chairman (Gordon Prentice):Do you pay any MPs or Peers or offer them retainers?
Mr Bingle: No.
Mr Granatt: No, we pay no-one in that respect. We do actually engage one MP, who was a professional presenter in a previous life, to do professional presentation training for some of our staff.
Chairman: Who is that? It will be in the public record.
Mr Granatt: Mr Opik.
Chairman: Lembit Opik.
Mr Walker: My God! That's damaging. Forget the speaker that's your problem.
Mr Granatt: I'll tell him you said so.
Chairman: I really did not want to give Lembit any more publicity but there you go."
The problem for Mr Opik is that he didn't declare income from Luther Pendragon for three years, he says because he didn't consider the work he did for them had any bearing on his work as an MP.
This is despite his declaring work for Luther Pendragon in earlier Register of Members' Interests in 2001 and 2002.
He has now decided to register the income and is "grateful" to PR Week for drawing his attention to it.
It's not exactly a major scandal but if Lembit feels embarrassed he could always donate the cash to a good cause - and simultaneously refute scotch inaccurate reports of his tight-fistedness in a recent book - by logging on to www.justgiving.com/davidcornock.