Saturday, 11 December 2010

Tory Minister Resigns

David Willetts quit as a minister immediately after the publication of a report in which he was sharply criticised by the Tory-dominated Standards and Privileges Committee which examined the allegation that he attempted to subvert a parliamentary inquiry into the Neil Hamilton "cash-for-questions" affair.

The unanimous report said that its members "were very concerned that any member should dissemble in his account to the committee, and believe that this response by Mr Willetts has substantially aggravated the original offence".

Then Paymaster General, Willetts paid the price for writing an infelicitous memo and compounding the offence by misleading fellow MPs as he tried to talk his way out of his difficulty.

The extent to which the MPs doubted the accuracy of Willetts' evidence to them is shown by the fact that the committee later took the unprecedented step of requiring future witnesses to give evidence to them on oath. Willetts resigned on 11 December 1996.

Known as "Two Brains", David Cameron appointed him as his Minister of State for Universities and Science.


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