WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, on how millionaire businessman Chris Philp has complained to broadcaster over its misreporting of his declarations to Parliament
UPDATED Jan 10: Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South, has rejected claims by broadcaster Sky News that he has failed to declare his financial interests properly to Parliament.
The millionaire businessman and former Treasury minister in Liz Truss’s disaster of a government was identified in a new report as being among 10per cent of sitting MPs at Westminster who have failed to comply with the legal requirements of their elected position.
“A 10-second check on the register of Members’ interests shows that I have declared my financial interests, as I am required to do,” Philp told Inside Croydon.
Sky News and Tortoise Media on Sunday published “The Westminster Accounts”, a delve into data about the nation’s MPs and political parties, their donors and financing. It examines information placed in the public domain during the course of this parliament, since the December 2019 General Election.
“Every year, millions of pounds pour into Westminster – into the accounts of the people, groups, organisations and parties that work and operate at the centre of government,” Sky News reports on its website.
“Although most of this money must technically be disclosed to the public, the way that information is reported, stored and displayed almost guarantees the records will not be widely scrutinised.
“Payment records are spread across different government websites, often split into small files covering short periods of time and regularly published with duplicate entries, spelling mistakes and other errors…”.
Philp says that he has lodged a complaint and request for a correction with Sky News, although by 5pm on January 10, no such amendment had been made to his entry on the Sky News website.
Philp was first elected to the Commons for the safe Conservative seat of Croydon South in 2015, after a chequered business career which, latterly, is understood to have made him a very wealthy man – largely on the back of providing financing for property developers, both in Britain and in the Balkans.
Thrustingly ambitious Philp, now 46, has always been very secretive about his personal wealth, refusing to publish his own tax returns, unlike several other leading parliamentarians.
Official Companies House records show him to hold active interests in at least six companies or LLP partnerships – a form of business registration noted for its deliberate opacity.
Contrary to what Sky News reported, Philp’s parliamentary declaration of interests does indeed show that he holds significant share-holdings in six companies: Pluto Capital Management LLP; property finance and investment (Registered 5 June 2015); Millgap Ltd; consulting, advisory and investment (Registered 5 June 2015); Pluto Partners LLP; property finance and investment (Registered 5 June 2015); Pluto Silverstone Co Invest LLP; property finance and investment (Registered 5 June 2015); Pluto Monza Co Invest LLP; property finance and investment (Registered 5 June 2015); and Pluto Development Partners LLP; property finance and investment (Registered 5 June 2015).
The dates show that all these companies were properly registered shortly after Philp entered Parliament.
This year, when Philp was promoted by Truss to be the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, a lack of transparency over his business interests appeared to be an obvious risk of serious conflicts of interest. When Truss’s government collapsed after just 44 days in a heap of its own incompetence – with Philp already moved out of the Treasury post – resolving such conflicts was no longer of immediate concern.
Philp remains a member of the Privy Council and a government minister under Rishi Sunak, and he continues to have responsibilities as an MP.
Sky News reports, “Like his colleagues in the House of Commons, Mr Philp is required by law to report certain financial interests to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, whose office publishes a register of all MPs’ interests every fortnight.
“MPs are required to report both their own direct financial interests and any donations or other payments that are received by their local constituency party to support their work or election.”
Sky News claimed that more than 60 MPs had failed to make proper or full declarations of interest. That claim is now a matter of some dispute, not only by Philp, but by other MPs.
Sky News and Tortoise have examined the Register of Members’ Financial Interests for declarations such as any earnings from secondary employment, donations, gifts (including all gifted international travel), and other benefits for all sitting and former members of the current parliament
The Sky News/Tortoise research has not included any reference to MPs’ annual base salary of £84,144, ministerial salaries (Philp gets an additional £31,680 as a Minister of State), nor “expenses” – the public money used to run MPs’ parliamentary and constituency offices.
Inside Croydon research has found that in 2021-2022, an additional £186,960.14 of public money was paid in parliamentary expenses for the running of Philp’s offices, of which £171,533.29 was for staffing costs, while he also received an additional £2,184.32 towards his offices’ postage costs.
“I do not claim any personal expenses at all,” the MP told Inside Croydon today. “Where I incur personal expenses (like travel) I pay them all myself and do not claim any back, even though I could in some cases.”
Read more: ‘Rabbit hutch’ flats and the Chief Secretary: Philp’s conflicts
Read more: Croydon South’s Tory MP called a ‘liar’ 16 times on national TV
Read more: MP Philp’s latest business venture folds due to lack of funds
AN APOLOGY: The Editor of Inside Croydon would like to apologise to Chris Philp MP. Yesterday, this website published a version of this report which failed to meet our usual high standards – we assumed that Sky News and Tortoise’s “Westminster Accounts” would have thoroughly checked their findings. We re-reported the untrue claim made by the broadcaster. We would like to thank Mr Philp for the opportunity to make this important correction.
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