Silence from North East Bedfordshire MP over ‘second job scandal’

Richard Fuller speaking in Parliament
Richard Fuller speaking in Parliament

Richard Fuller MP (Conservative, North East Bedfordshire) has ignored repeated calls to answer questions about jobs on top of his parliamentary duties, which have reportedly earned him an extra £700,000.

Now, one of his roles has been linked to a company that invested in spy equipment for the Chinese Government.

The Guardian reported early last week (Tuesday) about the additional roles some MPs have on top of their MP duties.

Alongside other MPs, Mr Fuller was named in their article which looked at conflicts of interest with contracts that have been awarded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In their report, The Guardian said Mr Fuller earned £65,000 from a second job at venture capital firm Investcorp Securities Ltd, which included £30,000 for “consultancy work on the impact of Covid on portfolio companies”.

Those companies included Cambio, a private health firm that secured a £63,000 NHS contract without competition from other providers.

The Bedford Independent contacted Mr Fuller’s office about this article on behalf of his Bedford Borough constituents.

We asked him if he felt his Parliamentary wages of £81,932 were enough to live on and if MPs should be allowed second jobs while in office, so their entire focus could be on their service to Parliament.

We wrote to his office twice detailing that we were writing a story and our deadline, which we extended. All in all, Mr Fuller had 24 hours to respond.

We received no reply.

Human rights concerns

Yesterday (Sunday), The Mirror reported that one of Mr Fuller’s four additional roles included being an advisory director for Investcorp, a firm that invests in spy technology in China.

Human rights groups have expressed concern about the Chinese Government’s use of Sense Time, a company bankrolled by Investcorp, saying it could be used to track oppressed Uyghur Muslims.

Sense Time told The Mirror that its patent was “never designed” to “discriminate against any groups” and said it liaised with the UN and other international organisations.

“Such an action is a violation of our company values. The patent application was amended. We are committed to promoting the responsible and sustainable use of AI,” they said.

Sitting on a parliamentary committee looking at the treatment of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, Mr Fuller has previously recommended fines for UK firms using supply chains linked to the province.

News of MP Richard Fuller's additional jobs has been front page news
News of MP Richard Fuller’s additional jobs made the front page of the Daily Mirror

Four additional jobs

Geraldine McKelvie, Investigations Editor at The Mirror, detailed the roles Mr Fuller has on top of his MP duties:

  • £20,000 a year for just two hours of work a month at software company Impero Solutions. He left a post with the same firm in 2019 for a £105,000 payoff but continued as an advisory director
  • £40,000 a year from OpSec Security and £15,000 from software company Enviivo. Working at Investcorp on and off since 2000, the register of MPs’ financial interests shows he received £209,097 between 2010-17 while he was MP for Bedford and Kempston
  • In 2019 he won the North East Bedfordshire seat and since then has received £94,900 from Investcorp through seven quarterly sums of £5,000 plus £14,900, £15,000 and £30,000 for extra work
  • £35,000 in political donations since 2010 from Hazem Ben-Gacem, co-CEO of Investcorp

Within the rules

Mr Fuller’s work outside his MP duties, and that of other MPs, is within parliamentary rules.

However, it has called into question the transparency in the awarding of government contracts and the commitment of some MPs to their constituents.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now under pressure to ban second jobs for his MPs.

“The corruption scandal that has engulfed the Conservative Party gets worse by the day,” said Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner.

Commenting specifically on Mr Fuller’s connection to Investcorp, she added, “we need an investigation to get to the bottom of whether this relationship has put our national ­security at risk and whether this technology has aided human rights abuses in China.”

Despite not commenting to media in his own constituency, Mr Fuller did speak to The Mirror.

“My constituents will read your [The Mirror] article and if they want me to respond I guess I can talk to them about it,” he said.

Alongside writing to Mr Fuller, the Bedford Independent also contacted Bedford Borough’s Conservative Group for their thoughts on MP’s additional jobs. They also did not reply by our deadline.