May 21 2013 Latest news:
Monday, July 16, 2012
Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey will attend the Olympic 100m final after accepting a free ticket from BT.
She initially refused to answers questions about whether she was one of the MPs from the Culture and Media Select Committee who had accepted the offer but last night told the East Anglian Daily Times she was going.
She said: “MPs were invited to go along and I have accepted. It will offer the opportunity to understand exactly how BT have been involved because there is a briefing first. Then we also get to see the race.”
Two other committee members - John Whittingdale and Philip Davies - have also confirmed they are taking the tickets and one other is also planning to attend.
She said she does not believe going along as a guest of BT would be a conflict of interest to her role on the committee.
“If I was to accept any freebie and then an issue came up at committee I would declare that I had taken the gift - as I am sure any member would.”
When the news of BT’s offer was first revealed last week Committee chairman Mr Whittingdale said: “It would be definitely extraordinary if we didn’t take a look at the Games. We don’t see that this compromises the committee at all.”
But a Cabinet Office note circulated to ministers has told them in the past: “The presumption for all invitations should be that they are declined. Should you feel there is an exceptional case to justify attendance it will need to be supported by a business case and to come to the Cabinet Office for approval.”
Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, has also condemned the MPs who have accepted the tickets