It was the responsibility of Barwell, the Tory MP for Croydon Central, to notify the Commons authorities when Creatura took up his new job, so that the pass could be deactivated and returned. This did not happen until this week, and only after Barwell was questioned on the matter by Inside Croydon following the publication of the latest parliamentary listing of MPs’ secretarial staff and assistants.
This was the third update of the register published since November. The listing shows Creatura as still holding a pass, despite leaving his job working for Barwell late last year. Although the register includes Creatura’s status as a Croydon councillor, the official Commons document has no record of his new full-time job, working for Heineken.
On Monday, when he was asked about Creatura’s Commons pass, Barwell told Inside Croydon: “I don’t provide him with a pass. He handed it in when he left my employment.”
House of Commons officials have confirmed that Creatura’s Commons pass was returned on Tuesday, March 29 – the day after Inside Croydon raised the matter with Barwell.
A Commons spokeswoman refused to reveal how many times Creatura had used the pass in the past four months; they did not deny that the pass had been used in that period.
Barwell has failed to respond to an invitation to comment further.Since being elected to parliament in 2010, Barwell has racked up a series of misdemeanours and offences with the parliamentary authorities, from a court warning over his casual accounting for election expenses, to breaking rules on data protection repeatedly, through to his misuse of the royal Portcullis symbol on his own, party political correspondence.
But letting his mate have free entry to the House of Commons until he was caught out could prove to be the most serious offence yet, as well as undermining confidence within the Conservative Party in Barwell’s position as a senior government whip.
In 2013, the Conservative-led government passed the Lobbying Act, after Prime Minister David Cameron said that lobbying was the “next big scandal” to consume Parliament. Barwell will have whipped MPs to vote for the new law’s measures.
These include making it an offence to conduct the work of consultant lobbying – that is, meeting with those in power to try to persuade them to sponsor or support legislation which helps a particular cause – without being listed on the register of consultant lobbyists. Neither Heineken, nor Creatura, feature as lobbyists or clients of registered lobbying firms on the current register.Armed with his Commons pass, Heineken employee Creatura could have access to a wide range of Government officials, including policy-making ministers all the way up to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who controls such measures as how much beer duty is levied.
According to the Commons spokeswoman, it is for individual pass-holders to ensure that they declare all their interests on the official register.
Coulsdon councillor Creatura is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), and therefore might be expected to be subject to its code of conduct.
How many clauses do you reckon he may have broken while retaining a Commons pass without declaring his Heineken role?
That’s before any consideration is given to the serious breach of security measures by Barwell and Creatura around what must be one of the biggest targets for a terrorist attack in the country.
The CIPR code might be worth considering in another context, too. Creatura’s recent enthusiasm for promoting “Croydon’s night time economy” – or the sale of vast quantities of lager – has rarely, if ever, mentioned that he draws a salary from Heineken.
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