Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone told MPs on Tuesday that her office had receive “dozens of complaints” about the former health secretary’s decision to join the reality TV show.
“It raises really important questions about members’ proper activities while they’re supposed to be fulfilling their parliamentary duties and representing their constituents,” she said.
There is no job description for MPs but we have to think very carefully about the conflict between public and private interests, bringing the House into disrepute and so on
Kathryn Stone, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
“One member of the public contrasted the dignity of veterans on Remembrance Sunday with a former secretary of state and they said this individual was waiting for a buffet of animal genitalia and they wondered what had happened to the dignity of public office.”
Ms Stone, who is soon to leave her role, said “there is no job description for MPs but we have to think very carefully about the conflict between public and private interests, bringing the House into disrepute and so on”.
But she said it was not something that would fall to her office to investigate, telling the Commons Standards Committee, “it doesn’t breach a rule per se, unless we are thinking about the conflict between personal and public interest, and settling that conflict in the interests of the public”.
Mr Hancock has come in for widespread criticism for his decision to fly out to compete on the popular ITV show, which has seen him take part in several bushtucker trials already.
During the same appearance, Ms Stone indicated that former Cabinet minister Sir Gavin Williamson’s conduct could be investigated.
She asked about claims that Sir Gavin, as chief whip, gave instructions that when a cheque was handed to an MP in financial difficulty to make sure “he knows I now own him”.
In response to questions from committee chairman Chris Bryant about the situation, she said: “I have to consider very carefully any live case and I don’t want to prejudice or undermine any investigation in to a live case.”