The former Labour cabinet minister Jack Straw was paid 5,000 by way of the motor insurance sell for an address and question-and-answer session C a payment he failed to declare when controversial amendments affecting such firms were tabled a while back, the Guardian can reveal.
Straw was bought a reported three hours of on 28 September. He sat using a panel of experts and spoke around the “dirty secrets” that boost motor insurance costs [see footnote].
Since summer, the first justice secretary have been championing a ban on motor industry “referral fees” C payments to find victims of road accidents who could sue for compensation. Currently, claims management companies “ambulance-chase” road accident victims as well as them in contact with no-win, no-fee lawyers and insurers. The firms collect a payment termed as a referral fee. Straw argued that “high-pressure sales techniques have led to an incredible boost in the number and price of claims kind of injury”.
Ministers have proposed new sections to your legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill, going through parliament, that would introduce fines for “ambulance chasing”. Although insurance agencies make income using referral fees, that is a may be pushing for the ban because, because government admits, “they would really benefit from the bottom level of claims and even with the reduced legal costs which losing defendants for instance insurers need to meet. Insurers need to get overall”.
The proposal is threatened using a judicial review by claims management companies, who believe it exited nowhere and with no consultation.Straw thinks the legislation really should be tougher, with the exceptional amendments would effectively make charging referral fees a legal, punishable by nearly two years in prison. However, while he tabled his changes, he not declared the income from “IloveClaims”, a physique set up to represent the motor insurance industry.
Straw told the Guardian that he or she wasn’t needed to register the payments since he hadn’t yet received the bucks. The former minister said he previously had contacted the register of members’ interests on Saturday to declare four payments. These will show up inside the new register in a few days C but, crucially, after MPs vote to the amendment. But the Commons rulebook should make it clear that MPs should denote a relevant “interest” together with the symbol “[R]”, Straw failed to accomplish this a while back. He blamed the parliamentary offices to be unsure within their guidance: “The clerks had not been certain -It’s will be around the order paper tomorrow. They will likely put an R close to my name.”
The issue of referral fees has seen the justice minister, Jonathan Djanogly, relinquish his ministerial role as industry regulator when it emerged the ban on payments in personal injury claims excluded his brother-in-law’s claims management businesses, which deal with employment law. Labour MPs for the justice select committee are calling for a full-scale inquiry in the conflict of interests.
Campaigners the insurance industry lobby is the most powerful in the nation. Andrew Dismore, with the Usage of Justice Action Group, said: “They are already pushing for your ban plus they get it. The balance can certainly make insurers a lot of cash but people have not had their arguments heard, and they’re going to miss out to big business.”
A spokesman for Straw later emailed a statement saying: “Mr Straw has complied fully with House of Commons’ regulations about this matter. A user is under no obligation to join up this sort of payment until 28 days as soon as the actual payment itself has long been received. Even though Mr Straw has received no payment up to now, he registered the I really enjoy Claims speaking event with all the appropriate House of Commons’ body on Saturday. In answer he was relayed through the registrar: ‘In fact you don’t have to register these payments in anticipation of having received the amount of money. I am going to therefore hold them over until that happens’. The fact that Mr Straw has agreed, however is not yet received, a payment due to this speaking event will likely be registered having an ‘R’ during the order paper when his amendments are debated.”
This footnote was added on 14 November 2011. Jack Straw has asked us to spellout that if he contacted the registrar on 29 October about his speaker’s fee to the I Love Claims event he was told that the member seriously isn’t obliged to join a payment until 28 days as soon as the payment continues to be received. Mr Straw has clarified that he hasn’t already received any undeclared payments.