Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries has been accused by Parliament’s anti-corruption watchdog of breaking Government rules by not consulting the body before taking a new job at TalkTV.
Ms Dorries will host a new Friday-night talk show on TalkTV but in a letter to the Conservative MP the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) chair Lord Pickles said “failing to seek and await advice before the role was announced or taken up in this case is a breach of the Government’s rules and the requirements set out in the ministerial code”.
The first instalment of her weekly hour-long programme, titled Friday Night With Nadine, will feature an exclusive interview with former prime minister Boris Johnson.
Lord Pickles said that Acoba was informed on Friday of her decision to take up the new role.
No further action
In a separate letter to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden, Lord Pickles recommended that “given the transparent nature” of the role, it would be “disproportionate to take any further action in this case”.
However, he added that the case was a “further illustration of how out of date the Government’s rules are”.
Under the current rules, Ms Dorries should seek clearance from Acoba for any new employment or appointments she takes on within two years of leaving office.
Lord Pickles told the Mid Bedfordshire MP that “the risks under the rules in these types of appointments are usually limited”.
He said that “had you approached Acoba in good time before agreeing to the 26-week contract or publicising the role in the media it would have allowed us to advise you appropriately in advance”.
The Cabinet Office is expected to respond to the letter in due course
Ms Dorries joins a roster that also includes Piers Morgan, Jeremy Kyle, Vanessa Feltz and Sharon Osbourne.
She said: “As someone who’s never been afraid to speak their mind, I’m delighted to be joining the team at TalkTV for Friday Night with Nadine, where I’ll be putting my 23-year political career and experiences at the despatch box to good use.
“Boris Johnson continues to dominate so much of the political narrative since his departure from No 10. Now’s the time to find out what he really thinks about a whole range of pressing issues.”
Labour’s Anneliese Dodds said: “Once again the Conservatives think the rules don’t apply to them.”
The party chair said: “It’s no surprise that Rishi Sunak’s MPs are looking for new jobs, but the least we could expect is for former ministers to follow the guidance around appointments.
“Rishi Sunak has been too weak to deal with his MPs and ministers so far. Is he strong enough to take action against Nadine Dorries?”
“Irreverent look at the week’s news”
TalkTV described her upcoming show as “an irreverent look at the week’s news and a lively mix of topical chat with guests from the world of politics, culture and sport”.
In October, she briefly stood in for Morgan on his Uncensored show while the former Good Morning Britain presenter was on holiday.
Richard Wallace, head of TV, news broadcasting, said: “Nadine has a unique voice in British politics and will bring that unique voice to our air.
“She has had a seat at the top table of British politics during extraordinary times; knows all the key players and has true insight into how the corridors of power actually work.
“As a former nurse, she’s one of very few politicians to have held down a proper job and worried about paying the bills, so our audience will relish her take.”
It comes after fellow Tory MP and Johnson supporter Jacob Rees-Mogg announced he was joining GB News to host his own show.
Friday Night with Nadine starts on February 3 on TalkTV from 8pm.
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