Sir Ian Kennedy To Scrap Kelly Report

(Telegraph) – IT HAS EMERGED THAT SIR IAN KENNEDY PLANS TO RIP-UP THE PROPOSED REFORMS to the discredited system of Commons allowances put forward earlier this week by Sir Christopher Kelly.

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, the head of the independent watchdog charged with reforming MPs’ expenses and restoring public trust in Parliament, is a close friend of Alastair Campbell.

Sir Ian has close links to Tony Blair’s former official spokesman, The Daily Telegraph disclosed.

So close is Sir Ian, the new head of the Independent Parliament Standards Authority (IPSA), to Mr Campbell that he helped advise him on his appearance before the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly, the government scientist.

He also holidayed with Mr Campbell, was even the spin doctor’s ‘phone a friend’ on a celebrity episode of the television quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Mr Campbell still regularly advises Number 10 and is highly likely to be part of the central Labour strategy team aiming for a fourth general election victory.

Sir Ian’s close relationship with one of the key architects of New Labour is certain to raise questions about his independence. It can also be disclosed that he was a guest at Chequers of former Prime Minister Mr Blair.

As head of IPSA he is set to get unprecedented powers to set MPs’ salaries, pensions and expenses.

He was picked for the £100,000 a year job by a Government-appointed panel, whose decision was then approved by John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, and a committee of senior MPs.

Sir Ian’s appointment was announced on Wednesday, moments before Sir Christopher’s sweeping review of MPs’ expenses was presented.

Party leaders and Sir Christopher praised his selection, while Mr Bercow told MPs: ‘We are fortunate to have such an eminent candidate for this important post.’

However, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, the leaders of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, will almost certainly not have been aware of Sir Ian’s links to the New Labour establishment when welcoming his appointment.

Mr Campbell’s diaries show that as well as helping the spin doctor on the popular quiz show, Sir Ian has holidayed in the South of France with Mr Campbell and his family, at the same time as Neil Kinnock, the former Labour leader, Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff and Philip Gould, the pollster.

In addition to Sir Ian’s links to Labour, the opposition leaders are likely to be alarmed at his decision to effectively scrap the Kelly report and hold his own consultation into the future expenses regime.

The seven-month review resulted in a comprehensive report encompassing 60 recommendations which Sir Christopher said should be ‘handed over to the new regulatory body for implementation in full.’

All of the party leaders also called on IPSA to implement the Kelly report in full.

When he unveiled his report, Sir Christopher called for the rapid implementation of all his reforms, saying: ‘There is a risk that, as the impact of the revulsion caused by the Daily Telegraph revelation fades with time, some may be thinking of distancing themselves from their earlier expressed determination to implement our report in full. If so, that would, in my view, be an error.’

However, in a direct riposte to Sir Christopher, Sir Ian has told Westminster insiders that the Kelly report was ‘only one of the bases of the conversation’ into the future of MPs allowances.

He added that, according to the legislation under which IPSA was founded, there was ‘no obligation to implement’ Kelly and it was ‘merely his [Sir Christopher’s] assumption’ that it would be.

He is said to feel that Sir Christopher’s lengthy inquiry, which included more than 1,000 witness statements and nine public hearings, was not a ‘proper’ consultation.

In particular, he has told officials that he is unhappy with proposed reforms which would ban MPs from employing relatives, and require those who made profits from the sale of second homes to hand it over to the taxpayer.

In another direct challenge to Kelly, Sir Ian has also said that there is ‘no appetite’ for legislation, meaning that he does not immediately plan to adopt the Committee’s call for the setting of MPs’ pay.

Sir Ian, a medical ethics lawyer who chaired the inquiry into the Bristol heart babies surgery scandal, was selected by a Government-appointed panel. That decision was then approved by a committee chaired by Mr Bercow, who owes his position as Speaker to the support of Labour MPs.

His close relationship with Mr Campbell is documented in the exhaustive diaries that the former spin doctor published after he left Number 10.

In his diary entry for 7 August 2003, Mr Campbell was preparing to give evidence to the inquiry which had been ordered after the death of Dr David Kelly.

In France with his family and friends, he writes: ‘We had dinner in Malaucène with Ian and Andrea Kennedy. I was looking forward to getting some hard-headed and objective advice from Ian about how to approach it [the Hutton inquiry].’

A day later he adds: ‘Ian got hold of Alan Maclean, who had been one of his legal team for the Bristol inquiry, and made arrangements for him to come out next week.’

Mr Campbell stood down as Mr Blair’s adviser that summer. But, when Lord Hutton reported in January 2004, he exonerated Mr Campbell and blamed the BBC for causing a meltdown at the corporation.

In February 2004, Sir Ian was to be a guest at Chequers with his wife Andrea.

A year later, he was the friend that Mr Campbell called on an ill-fated appearance he made on a charity edition of the TV game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Sir Ian was involved in the question that scuppered Mr Campbell and his wife’s chances. They were asked: which country launched the Skylab space station in 1973? At that point he phoned his friend, Sir Ian, who thought it was France but was not certain. The couple then took their last lifeline and went 50-50.

They were given the option of France and America and chose France. Host Chris Tarrant told him: ‘You had £8,000. You’ve just lost £7,000.’

The revelation of the closeness of the new man to Number 10 comes as the revolt against the new expenses regime continues to build.

On Friday Julie Kirkbride, one of the highest profile MPs to announce they were standing down over questionable expenses claims announced she had changed her mind and wanted to remain an MP.

It came as MPs continued to try to argue against what they see as unjust changes to their regime.

The BBC allowed an MP to appear anonymously on its flagship radio programme Today to bitterly attack Sir Christopher’s proposals and the expenses expose in general.

With the voice of a male actor to disguise the identity, the MP said ‘Just when we needed a wise influence to restore some sense into this whole affair the small-minded Kelly has poisoned it more.’

One Response

  1. I re-read this article three times trying to find some crumbs of comfort. But there aren’t any.

    Bercow and friends and, dare I say it, Brown have successfully stitched up the British public by simply ensuring that, at the end of the day, their man was appointed to run IPSA.

    Shame on the opposition party leaders, whom we thought we could trust, for not knowing Kennedy’s true colours and leaving it up to the Telegraph to expose the man.

    MPs are appointed to represent their constituents so where was the free all-party vote to appoint an IPSA chairman? More to the point, where is the motion for a free all-party vote to remove Kennedy in favour of Kelly and have him and his team implement the necessary reforms and draw up a short list of candidates to replace them?

    But what I find distinctly worrying about all this is that you are right – there are, judging by the numbers, infact more ‘honourable’ than ‘corrupt’ MPs’ untouched by the expenses scandal. So where are they when the public needs them?

    If parliament was run democratically – and those MPs really were honourable then surely they would out-vote all the corrupt MPs and we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    But perhaps that silent majority are really not that honourable after all………

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