Tell No 10 to stop the threats

by Good Law Project

Tell No 10 to stop the threats

by Good Law Project
Good Law Project
Case Owner
Good Law Project uses the law for a better world.
Funded
on 26th November 2021
£48,335
pledged of £100,000 stretch target from 2,307 pledges
Good Law Project
Case Owner
Good Law Project uses the law for a better world.

Latest: Jan. 17, 2022

No more threats – Government commits to cleaning up its act

Following numerous reports that Tory MPs were being threatened with funding cuts if they didn’t tow the party line in Commons votes, Good Law Project wrote to the Government asking for ans…

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"There’s been threats made to a few people that they won’t get funding for projects if they don’t side with the government… to try and hold back an entire area or prevent regeneration just to get you to vote for something you clearly don’t like, it’s not something I’m particularly comfortable with."

Those are the words of a Conservative MP. And it’s not the only time MPs have said they’ve been threatened with losing constituency funding if they don’t toe the party line in Commons votes. 

It appears Number 10 used these threats in an attempt to punish voters to try and force MPs to spare Tory MP Owen Paterson from suspension, after he broke parliamentary rules by lobbying for a private firm that paid him £100,000 a year. One backbencher said MPs were told “they would lose funding for their constituency” if they failed to vote with the Prime Minister. 

This is shocking stuff. Not only does it undermine Parliament and weaken MPs’ independence - the allegations, if true, are in the realms of criminal offence.

Cutting off funding for local communities to force MPs to vote to save the skin of a disgraced MP also reveals the truth behind what the Government likes to style as ‘levelling up’.

Rumours have been swirling that the Government has been abusing this tactic for far too long. It’s time this scandal was brought into the light. Good Law Project has sent a pre-action protocol letter to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, inviting him to deny, if he can, that the alleged conduct happened, to turn over any documents evidencing it - and to stop the threats. 

The reports suggest a very serious misuse of public money, in the realms of criminal conduct, by or for the Prime Minister. We will not stand by and watch. If you are in a position to do so, please donate to this vital legal challenge.

Details

Good Law Project has instructed Bindmans LLP in this case along with Jason Coppel QC of 11 KBW and Jason Pobjoy of Blackstone Chambers, who are being paid at significantly below market rates.

10% of the sums raised will go to the Good Law Project to help it develop and support further litigation in the public interest. It is our policy only to raise sums that we reasonably anticipate. 

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Update 1

Good Law Project

Jan. 17, 2022

No more threats – Government commits to cleaning up its act

Following numerous reports that Tory MPs were being threatened with funding cuts if they didn’t tow the party line in Commons votes, Good Law Project wrote to the Government asking for answers. Hard-up communities can’t be blackmailed in service of Owen Paterson’s political career.  

We have now heard back from the Government.

It does not deny that the threats were made (and neither do senior Tory figures like Dominic Raab). But it has assured us that the threats won’t happen again. Their response says unequivocally that “in any decision of the Government in relation to the Towns Fund or the Levelling Up Fund, the voting record of any Member of Parliament linked to any particular area will not be taken into account” and that it will “form no part of the decision‐making processes in respect of either Fund.

This is significant. 

We can’t change the past – but what we now have is a promise for the future. The Government says it will avoid a repetition of conduct that is unlawful – if not criminal. Should MPs, once again, be placed in the impossible position of choosing between their commitments to their constituents and their consciences they should contact us. We will promise – contractually – to keep their names confidential. And we will act again with proper vigour.

We have closed our crowdfunder for the case. With your help, we raised a significant amount of money. The costs we have incurred are very modest and we will meet them from our reserves. 

It is impossible to make refunds via CrowdJustice. In the circumstances, we think the fairest thing to do with the net sum raised is allocated towards our challenge to the Met Police’s failure to investigate parties at No 10 Downing Street.

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