The following is the text of the letter from James Cleverly, MP for Braintree, to Sir Keir Starmer MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, about reports that the Labour MP will be appointed as a legal adviser to Mischon de Reya, who acted for Gina Miller.Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer MP
House of Commons
24 July 2017
Dear Sir Keir,
I am writing to you today with regards to reports that you are imminently being appointed to be a legal adviser for Mischon de Reya.
Mishcon de Reya have been an active participant in legal cases surrounding the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. The firm stressed that the result of the referendum was not legally binding and supported anonymous claimants in their legal efforts last year. The firm acted for Gina Miller in her case against the government regarding the triggering of Article 50 even though your party leader Jeremy Corbyn called for Article 50 to be triggered immediately following the referendum, without the consent of Parliament. The firm’s legal work alongside your role in the shadow cabinet creates a possible conflict of interests.
The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament (paragraph 10) stresses that MPs ‘should avoid any conflict between personal interests and the public interest and states that members must resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest’. In your position as the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union you will be personally involved with drafting and speaking on legislative amendments on the EU Withdrawal Bill. You have also recently been made a member of the Privy Council, which will allow you privileged access to documents and information.
Members of the public will rightly detect a conflict of interest between your paid work for a law firm and your important role on the front bench. In order to provide reassurance to the public, and Parliament, will you undertake to:
• Make a public statement on your work for Mischon de Reya making clear your intentions. This should address how you believe this role is compatible with your front bench role, and the steps you will take to avoid suspicions of a conflict of interests. Since you have previously suggested that the best Brexit deal will ‘take time’ and you resigned your previous role at Mischon De Reya when you were elevated to Shadow Cabinet, this should also lay out what has changed to make you believe you can now combine a role with the oversight position you have over Brexit.
• Commit to publishing in your Register of Members' Interests a list of the clients to whom you provide advice as part of your role at Mischon de Reya. This would ensure an appropriate level of transparency.
• Ask your party leadership to clarify your party’s position on the issue of second jobs or consultancies for Members of Parliament. In 2015, your party suggested that this would restore public trust in politics. Your actions will be seen as hypocritical and your party states one position but allows it owns MPs to do another.
• State whether you will be involved in providing legal advice to any individual or organisation which seeks to initiate legal action against the UK Government.
• State whether your legal advice will assist, directly or indirectly, any lobbying by the firm on behalf of its clients for changes in UK or EU legislation/regulation, or UK Government policy or EU policy.
I would appreciate a response at the earliest opportunity.
James Cleverly MP
Member of Parliament for Braintree