Bim Afolami, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has been criticised after the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards opened an investigation into his "registration of interests".

It is understood that the watchdog will be looking into Mr Afolami's initial failure to declare that he was being paid £2,000 per month to chair the Regulatory Reform Group (RRG).

The Guardian revealed earlier this year that while Mr Afolami had declared in the parliamentary register of interests that he was being paid to work for WPI Strategy, a public affairs firm, he had not declared that they were paying for him to chair the RRG.

Mr Afolami told the Comet at the time that "no rules were broken" and said he "did register [his] interest" but had "put it in the wrong category on the register".

He then updated his register of interests to state that he was paid for the work between February and May this year, spending 15 hours per month on it during that period. He is now doing the work unpaid.

Mr Afolami has previously brought up the work of the RRG at Prime Minister's Questions, where he thanked Rishi Sunak for "supporting" its launch.

Local Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians have criticised Mr Afolami for taking on the work.

Elizabeth Dennis, a Labour councillor in Hitchin, said: "Paid lobbying within elected offices can present a real danger to our democratic systems.

"Whether Mr Afolami is paid or not for this, I hope he reconsiders the position it puts him in when representing his constituents.


"It is their interests that he should represent in his role, should he wish to represent WPI Strategy, or any other lobbying group, he should seek employment with them when he is no longer our MP."

The Hitchin and Harpenden constituency is set to be divided at the next general election due to boundary changes. Mr Afolami has announced that he will stand for the Hitchin seat.

Chris Lucas, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hitchin, has called for Mr Afolami to "do the right thing and step aside" in an open letter to the MP.

He wrote that Mr Afolami is "clearly devoting far too much time and energy to [his] 'other' jobs", and continued: "The people of Hitchin deserve an MP who has the drive, the energy and determination to fight 24/7 on their behalf, not an MP who takes a couple of days off a month on a 'side-hustle'.

"As the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hitchin, I am ready to work tirelessly for my constituents alone and can state publicly for the record that, if elected, my paymaster will be the people of the Hitchin constituency, not some murky lobbyist firm."

Meanwhile, Victoria Collins, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Harpenden and Berkhamsted, said it is a "disgrace" that Mr Afolami was "not transparent" about the work.

She continued: “I’m glad to hear that the commissioner on parliamentary standards is taking this matter seriously and opening this investigation. 

"No wonder there has been an erosion of trust in the Conservative government and our local MP.

"They act like it’s one rule for them and another for everyone else. That’s why so many lifelong Conservative voters are choosing the Liberal Democrats instead."

Mr Afolami did not respond to a request for comment on this article.