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MP told to apologise over failure to declare interest in telecom firm

A Conservative MP has been told to apologise to the House of Commons after failing to declare his interest in a telecommunications company while taking part in parliamentary inquiries relating to the industry.

The Commons Committee on Standards ruled that Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams had committed several "minor" breaches at "the less serious end of the spectrum" of the MPs' code of conduct.

The committee upheld the findings of an investigation by parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Hudson.

She ruled that the code was breached by Mr Adams' removal of his directorship of NGC Networks Limited and NGC Network Services from the register of MPs' interests, as well his failure on three occasions to declare his and his wife's interest in the companies when taking part in a pair of inquiries by the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, of which he is a member.

Mr Adams did make the necessary declarations at all other inquiry evidence sessions and agreed to register his interest when advised to do so during the course of the commissioner's investigation.

Ms Hudson found that Mr Adams should not have removed his unpaid directorships from the register of interests in 2015 when his shareholding fell below a threshold.

And though he declared his and his wife's financial interest in all but one of the committee's evidence sessions on interconnectivity, he failed to do so in the other hearing in that inquiry as well as any of the meetings in a second probe into cybersecurity.

Mr Adams told the Standards Committee that he disagreed with the commissioner's findings, as he had followed advice on removing his name from the register and had made clear his interest during the inquiry into connectivity.

The MP said NGC did not operate in the cybersecurity area and he therefore saw no link between its activities and the second inquiry.

While upholding the commissioner's findings, the committee said: "Looking at Mr Adams' behaviour in the round, it is clear that he was seeking to act within the rules and that he had no intention to conceal his interest on the occasions on which he failed to make the necessary declaration."

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Adams said the report stated the standards committee found the breaches were "very minor".

He added: "I'm grateful that the committee also concludes that I was seeking to act within the rules and additionally, there was no intention on my part to conceal my interests.

"However, I would like to take the earliest opportunity to offer a full apology to the House."

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