Suspended Tory MP faces no formal sanction over code of conduct breach

Katie Neame
© David Woolfall/CC BY 3.0

A suspended Tory MP has been found to have breached parliament’s code of conduct over a loan from a businessman but will not face a formal sanction following an inquiry by the parliamentary watchdog.

David Warburton – who lost the Tory whip back in April following accusations of sexual misconduct and drug use – failed to declare an £150,000 loan from businessman Roman Joukovski.

Following receipt of the money, Warburton wrote to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on behalf of the businessman, reportedly describing him as “an honest and straightforward person whom I trust”.

An inquiry by the parliamentary commissioner for standards Kathryn Stone revealed that Warburton received the loan in August 2017. Warburton claimed that the money was a commercial loan provided on “non-preferential terms”, which he paid back by March 2022.

In a submission to the commissioner, the MP said the loan was to help cover the cost of a buy-to-let property he was looking to purchase. Warburton told the investigation that Joukovski had offered to provide “a commercial loan from his business, as he was a good friend and I was stuck”.

Warburton told Stone that he had not registered the loan at the time because it was “entirely unconnected with either my role as an MP or any parliamentary activities”. He claimed that the money had “in no way” “influenced my words or actions”.

Stone concluded that Warburton should have reported the loan “because an onlooker might have reasonably thought that at the time the loan was provided it had the potential to influence Mr Warburton’s words or actions as a member”.

Warburton wrote to the FCA in March 2021 on behalf of Joukovski using parliamentary stationary. The MP reportedly told the financial watchdog that he was sending “a reference on behalf of Roman Joukovski”, adding that “in my judgment he is extremely capable and an honest and straightforward person whom I trust”.

The MP did not mention the loan in the letter to the FCA. He told Stone in his submission: “It wouldn’t have occurred to me to mention any financial link – however tenuous and however unrelated to a personal reference for a friend – in a private reference letter.”

Stone concluded that the MP had breached parliament’s code of conduct on registering interests on two separate occasions, but not on paid advocacy because his letter “did not suggest that the FCA should take any positive action in respect of Mr Joukovski, nor did it make any representations on Mr Joukovski’s behalf”.

Stone stated that the breaches had been rectified after Warburton wrote to the commissioner “acknowledging and apologising” for the incident. She noted that the MP had also agreed to have the loan “belatedly” added to the register of members’ financial interests.

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