Tory deputy speaker and MP face Partygate probe over 'lockdown birthday bash'

Two Tory MPs including a Deputy Commons Speaker are being probed by Parliament’s watchdog over claims of a lockdown-busting party.

Standards Commissioner Daniel Greenberg has opened investigations into Dame Eleanor Laing and backbencher Virginia Crosbie. The inquiries are thought to relate to allegations that Dame Eleanor hosted a previously-reported joint birthday drinks bash for Ms Crosbie and a Conservative peer, Baroness Anne Jenkin, in Dame Eleanor’s parliamentary office. The hour-long drinks do is said to have taken place on December 8, 2020, when London was subject to Tier 2 restrictions.

The pair are being investigated under paragraph 17 of MPs’ Code of Conduct, which states: “Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its Members generally.”

The Commissioner’s website says: “The Commissioner looks at evidence that individual MPs may have broken the rules of conduct. He will find out the facts and make a decision. The fact that an inquiry is taking place does not mean that the rules have been broken. Once an inquiry has finished the Commissioner decides whether or not an MP has broken the rules. Once he has decided, the Commissioner’s decision and evidence received during the course of the inquiry will be published.” It adds: “Outside of the information published on these webpages, the Commissioner and his office will not comment on the details of an inquiry.”

Ms Crosbie told the Mirror: “I will, of course, cooperate fully with this investigation. However, I would like to confirm I was contacted by the Metropolitan Police in October. It told me that following an investigation I would not receive a Fixed Penalty Notice in relation to allegations that Covid regulations were breached at an event I attended on December 8, 2020.”

Just when you thought it was all over … :dotted_line_face: