The government is “seeking further” legal advice on messages allegedly sent by Nadine Dorries to public officials promising to get to the bottom of why she was not granted a peerage, the cabinet secretary said today.
Simon Case, who is the UK’s top civil servant, attended a hearing this morning of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), chaired by Conservative MP William Wragg, who questioned him about the alleged conduct of Ms Dorries .
Mr Wragg asked Mr Case: “Are you aware of any strong communication, could it be described, sent by the persistent Mid Bedfordshire member to senior officials?”.
The PACAC president added that such messages could be described as “threatening”, claiming that the former culture secretary promised to “use the platform of the commons and indeed her own television show to get to the bottom of why she had not been given a nobility”.
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The Cabinet Secretary replied that he was aware of such communications and had flagged the messages “both to the head of the whip and to the Speaker of the House”.
Last month, Dorries said she would resign from parliament after it emerged that her nomination for a peerage, put forward by Boris Johnson on his resignation honors list, had been stopped by the Lords appointments watchdog.
However, she later said that she would remain in the House of Commons as an MP until she conducted an inquiry into why her peerage was vetoed.
Downing Street then took the unusual step of declassifying the list of Boris Johnson’s proposed peers, which was approved by the House of Lords Appointments Committee (HOLAC). It was an attempt to show that the prime minister had not selectively removed Dorries, along with other key Johnson allies Alok Sharma and Nigel Adams, from the list.
Pressed further by Mr Wragg as to whether the government had sought “legal advice on the matter”, Mr Case responded by saying: “…seeking further advice on that matter. So I took the initial advice but asked for more.”
Mr Wragg was referring specifically to whether Ms Dorries had breached the Honors (Prevention of Abuse) Act 1925.
When asked about the claims, Ms Dorries has told the Yo newspaper that the only official he had contacted was Mr. Case, in addition to submitting a series of Freedom of Information Act requests about his blocked peerage.