Tory MP Justin Tomlinson makes grovelling apology for leaking to Wonga

Written by Sebastian Whale on 15 September 2016 in Diary

'I am truly sorry.... These actions came as a result of my own naivety.'

Some MPs might have fallen on their sword after being found guilty of leaking a draft select committee report on payday lenders to a notorious pay day lending firm.

But not Justin Tomlinson. In one of the more toe-curling Commons performances of recent times, the chastened Tory MP apologised to his colleagues for leaking to Wonga - and looked relieved as speaker John Bercow declared that the matter had been put to bed.

He now faces a two-day suspension from the Commons.

Tomlinson’s voice broke as he delivered his personal statement to MPs in response to a probe by the Committee on Privileges into the incident in 2013.

The Tory MP for North Swindon, then a member of the Public Accounts Committee, sent a draft version of a report into regulating payday loans to an employee of payday lending firm Wonga.

The Committee on Privileges said Tomlinson had “committed a contempt” through his actions, which had “constituted substantial interference” in the committee’s work.

Speaking in the Commons, a contrite Tomlinson insisted that he had only been trying to protect vulnerable consumers. By leaking to a firm with whom he reportedly brokered a deal worth £30,000 to sponsor his local football team.

He said: “I completely accept the findings of the report published today by the Privileges Committee and the report submitted by the commissioner for standards. I accept that my actions in sharing the report constituted an interference in the work of the committee of Public Accounts, and for this I am truly sorry.

“This was never my intention. These actions came as a result of my own naivety driven by a desire to strengthen regulations on payday lenders and protect vulnerable consumers. The commissioner for standards confirmed this as my motivation based on evidence that I have worked on cross party campaigns to protect consumers, that I have long argued for tighter regulation of the payday lending industry.

“I welcome the report’s conclusion that my actions were not motivated by financial gain, and the report states that I did not act in the way I did for financial gain nor with the intention of reflecting the views of the company concerned.”

He added: “Mr Speaker I reiterate my apology today, and I am very grateful that the House has allowed me to make this apology at the earliest opportunity.”

Bercow replied: “I thank the Honourable Gentleman for what he said, and indeed for the way in which he said it.

“The matter rests there, that’s the end of it.”

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