As chronicled in Eyes passim, Sir Kevin was probably the single biggest profiteer among all MPs who used the Commons expenses scheme prior to the 2009 leak of their claims, having bought a high-end Westminster flat with the taxpayer funding his mortgage interest – and then sold it at a profit of £500,000 without repaying a penny to the public purse.
Last week the Telegraph reproduced a contract Barron signed in 2012 with the Japanese Pharmaceutical Group, which lobbies on behalf of Japanese big pharma against British drugs firms. Sir Kevin took £5,000 a year from this shadowy outfit to provide “services” – including two dinners and a breakfast meeting at the Commons, despite parliamentary rules banning MPs from using House resources “to confer any undue personal or financial benefit on themselves or anyone else”.
‘No personal gain’
Barron hurriedly stood down as chairman on Thursday 10 March and used the time-worn dodge of referring himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards – who, of course, has in turn been reporting to none other than Sir Kevin for years. His excuse is that he made “no personal gain”. Oddly enough, that was also the mitigating plea by his old constituency neighbour and enemy, former Rotherham MP Denis MacShane, who had broken the rules to claim reimbursement for European networking and travel – and it was a plea Barron roundly rejected. (The two men had fallen out when MacShane defended the Times and its reporter Andrew Norfolk for exposing the Rotherham grooming scandal, to Sir Kevin’s fury.)
Another fellow South Yorkshire Labour MP, Richard Caborn, also fell out with Barron politically – and was also then roughed up by the double standards committee after being caught in a sting talking about work he would do when he stood down as an MP. Unlike Barron, he had signed no contract and made no promise to sponsor events in parliament. Nonetheless Sir Kevin and his committee decided Caborn was a wrongdoer and should be denied a parliamentary pass as an extra humiliation.
Three parliamentary QCs – Michael Howard, Menzies Campbell and Charlie Falconer – wrote to the committee on Caborn’s behalf, asking for his case to be reexamined. The committee split down the middle – whereupon Barron used his casting vote to refuse Caborn’s appeal. No doubt he hopes for more friendly treatment when the double standards committee looks at his own work for the Japanese lobbyist. ”