An inquiry has found that Bim Afolami, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, breached the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards found that Mr Afolami had breached the Code by failing to register five of his interests within the 28 day deadline set by the House of Commons.

Mr Afolami previously told the Comet that "no rules were broken", but has now said: "I fully acknowledge and accept that I have breached the rules, and I apologise for doing so."

The inquiry related largely to Mr Afolami's work as chair of the Regulatory Reform Group (RRG).

Mr Afolami had declared in the register of members' interests that he was being paid £2,000 per month to work for WPI Strategy, a public affairs firm, but did not initially declare that they were paying for him to chair the RRG.

After the Guardian made the connection, Mr Afolami contacted the Registrar, who believed that Mr Afolami "had not been clear enough" and "had not declared it properly".

Mr Afolami then updated his register of interests, and the Commissioner for Standards began his investigation into the late entries. Four of the late entries related to the RRG and WPI Strategy, while the fifth related to a private donation towards Bim Afolami's office costs.

The Commissioner found that Mr Afolami had "breached paragraph 5 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament" by failing to register those five interests within the 28 day deadline.

The Commissioner, Daniel Greenberg CB, continued: "Mr Afolami acknowledged and apologised for his breaches of the Code and confirmed that he had put measures in place to ensure the timely registration of future interests."

He stated that he "was satisfied that each breach was either minor or inadvertent in nature", and that Mr Afolami had "provided prompt and full explanations" for the late registrations.


In letters to the Commissioner, Mr Afolami wrote: "I apologise profusely for the slackness in my declarations here, and I am determined that I shall not fall short again.

"I confirm that I have accepted your opinion – particularly in relation to the lack of attention that I have sometimes paid to these matters. I am very mindful of the consequences for not being much more careful."

Speaking to the Comet about the outcome of the inquiry, Mr Afolami said: “I have co-operated fully with the Commissioner during his investigation and apologise unreservedly for the late registration of some of my interests on the Parliamentary register.

"When I was first alerted to concerns that I had declared my interests in the wrong way I sought prompt guidance from the Registrar and ensured that any mistakes were fixed.

"I accept the Commissioner’s conclusions that I have committed minor or inadvertent breaches of the rules and I have since put in place measures to ensure that such mistakes do not happen again.”

Chris Lucas, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hitchin, said: "We are sorry to learn that Mr Afolami has indeed breached the Code of Conduct for MPs.

"However ‘minor or inadvertent’ these mistakes were, any such behaviour should be taken extremely seriously.

"It is disappointing and disturbing for constituents to learn of this through a Parliamentary investigation rather than from Mr Afolami himself. We think an apology to everyone is required, not just to Parliament.

"MPs are paid almost £100k a year to represent the interests of their constituents and I think most people would expect this to be full time, not just on free days from other work."

Elizabeth Dennis, a Labour councillor in Hitchin, said: "While Mr Afolami has been let off after a brief inquiry on failing to register his financial interests, there is still a serious question that he needs to answer.

"Does he work for his constituents, or does he work for the lobbying firm WPI Strategy?

"Constituents deserve an MP that stands up for them and their interests, and is committed to supporting them rather than serving the interests of lobbying firms."