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DUP's Sammy Wilson helps block ex-Ipsa boss from job

By Richard Wheeler

Sammy Wilson joined forces with Tory and Labour backbenchers to block the appointment of the former expenses watchdog chief to a new role.

Sir Ian Kennedy, ex-chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), had been recommended for a position on the elections watchdog - the Electoral Commission. But the motion was rejected by 77 votes to 46 - majority 31 - as 40 Conservative MPs voted no. Mr Wilson, who was not available for comment, was the only DUP member to oppose Sir Ian's appointment, with six other DUP MPs supporting it. Lady Sylvia Hermon also backed the appointment.

Conservative former minister James Duddridge said he believed Sir Ian is "not a fit and proper person" to serve in the four-year post as an Electoral Commissioner, and criticised his role in reforms to MPs' expenses following the 2009 scandal.

An independent panel, appointed by the Speakers' Committee on the Electoral Commission, conducted interviews and recommended Sir Ian with no objections raised by the leaders of political parties at Westminster, according to Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom.

Opposing the motion, Mr Duddridge told the House of Commons: "I do not believe Sir Ian Kennedy is an appropriate appointment to the Electoral Commission.

"This gentleman is 76 now, he'll be 80 at the end of his term. When he served on (the Healthcare Commission), he claimed £15,000 in taxis from North London to the job.

"The Electoral Commission requires somebody who understands politics."

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