Complaints and Investigations

Complaints process

The Commissioner may investigate alleged breaches of the Rules of Conduct set out in part V of the House of Commons Code of Conduct. The Commissioner may not investigate alleged breaches of other parts of the Code nor complaints about matters not covered by the Code and its associated rules.  Anyone can make an allegation of misconduct, whether a member of the public or an MP. The Commissioner may not accept for inquiry an allegation received from an organisation,from an anonymous source, or made on behalf of another person. (The Commissioner may accept an allegation made through an interpreter if one is required.)

Before she can begin a formal inquiry, the Commissioner must have the name, postal address and signature of the person making the allegation.

The Commissioner considers all allegations on their merits, no matter what their nature or source.  When she receives an allegation, the Commissioner checks whether it is one she can look into and whether she has sufficient evidence to justify a formal inquiry.  If the Commissioner decides to investigate, she writes to tell the person making the allegation and to the MP to give him or her an opportunity to comment.  (She will usually send a copy of the letter of complaint to the MP, having first removed the complainant’s contact details.)  If the Commissioner decides not to begin an inquiry, she will explain her reasons briefly to the person making the allegation. You can see more information about this process here.

During an inquiry, the Commissioner will collate the necessary evidence.  She may ask questions of the MP and/or of third parties. Before reaching any conclusions, she will show the evidence to the MP and give him or her the opportunity to comment on it. 

The Commissioner is likely to conclude an inquiry in one of three ways.

  • She may decide not to uphold the complaint.
  • She may find there has been a breach of the rules and that it is at the less serious end of the spectrum.  If the MP agrees with the Commissioner, apologises for the breach of the rule and takes any action the Commissioner considers necessary to rectify the breach, the matter will usually be closed under the rectification procedure
  • She may find a breach of the rules that is not suitable for the rectification procedure and/or the inquiry has raised issues of wider importance. In this case, the Commissioner will write to the Committee on Standards, setting out the facts and the reasons for thinking there has been a breach of the rules. The Committee considers the Commissioner’s report and reaches its own conclusion on whether there has been a breach of the rules. The Committee will recommend any sanction to be applied to the MP.

More detailed information about the complaints process can be found here

Page last updated: 7 May 2015