Tory MP investigated over £20k payments from Palestinian group

Crispin Blunt is also under investigation by the parliamentary watchdog for failing to declare his interest in the Palestinian pressure group


Concervative MP Crispin Blunt arrives to attend a meeting of The Bruges Group, a pro-Brexit think tank, in London on January 23, 2019. - The Bruges Group are long-time supporters of leaving the European Union and, are against the emergence of a centralised EU state. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt is under investigation by the parliamentary watchdog after failing to declare payments worth more than £20,000 from a Palestinian pressure group that accuses Israel of “apartheid”.

Mr Blunt failed to declare his earnings from the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, as well as register his interest in the organisation as a director.

He is being investigated by the Standards Commissioner after declaring ten payments at least a month late.

Mr Blunt received the payments from 29 August 2021 to 1 June 2022, all of which he declared at least 28 days too late. In one case he declared the payment almost a year - 320 days - after receiving it.

On its website, the ICJP says in its denouncement of Israel: “The Israeli state supported by legal architecture promotes Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea perpetuating a racialised regime of dispossession, cruel domination and systematic fragmentation of the Palestinian people. This constitutes apartheid according to the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute. A threshold has been crossed.”

Reigate MP Mr Blunt has previously been highly outspoken in his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In 2021, he faced calls to have the whip removed after he suggested terrorist group Hamas had the right to hit “legitimate targets” in Israel during a parliamentary debate.

He has also previously said that banning Hamas would have a “terrible chilling effect” in the region.

Mr Blunt apologised in April after defending the disgraced MP Imran Khan, found guilty of historic sexual assault against a 15-year-old boy, after calling Mr Khan the victim of a “dreadful miscarriage of justice” and “nothing short of an international scandal”.

He later said that he was “sorry” that his defence of the former MP had been the “cause of significant upset and concern not least to victims of sexual offences”, and resigned as the chair of the all-parliamentary group for LGBT+ rights.

The standards watchdog also concluded in 2021 that the all-party parliamentary group on LGBT+ rights, under Mr Blunt’s chairmanship, had breached transparency rules in delaying the publication of a report on the group’s website regarding self-identification for trans people.

Also in 2021, Mr Blunt accepted a £15,000-a-year role from Stay Belvedere Hotels Limited, which provided accommodation for asylum seekers.

A joint investigation by the Observer newspaper and ITV News that year found that privately-contracted staff at the hotels had been paid significantly less than the minimum wage while asylum seekers staying in the hotels alleged they had been harassed and sexually exploited.

In May this year, Reigate MP Mr Blunt, 61, announced he will stand down at the next general election. In a statement posted on his website, he said that after “seven increasingly tumultuous parliaments, this will be my last”.

He entered Parliament in 1997 and has served as a justice minister and as chair of the foreign affairs select committee.

Announcing his decision to quit, Mr Blunt said: “In looking forward to the next two years or so of this parliament, whilst securing my re-election is no longer an interest, there will be continued joy in representing the citizens I’ve had the honour to serve for 25 years.”

He said he would also use the rest of his time in parliament to “help secure the future” of the Conservative party and to “continue to call out long established populist views on policy shibboleths that continue to cause damage to our society and beyond”.

The Reigate constituency, situated in Surrey, is a longtime safe Tory seat, with Blunt winning a majority of more than 18,000 votes at the 2019 election.

Mr Blunt told the JC in response to the investigation into his failings: "My explanation must be provided to the Standards Commissioner first and I am under a duty of confidentiality. It is in hand."

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