Hope 'did nothing wrong' in employing his children

Charities minister Phil Hope has insisted that he did nothing wrong in employing his son and daughter to work in his constituency office.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Hope’s son Nick and daughter Anna have worked in their father’s office in Corby. Nick Hope was a student at Bristol University at the time.

Hope denied he had done anything wrong and emphasised that they had worked for his office only during university vacations.

“It’s not unusual for MPs to employ family members,” he said. “Both my son and daughter have worked in my office on both a paid and a voluntary basis. They never worked for me when they should have been studying; they worked during vacations, for holiday cover.”

Hope said only his son was employed when he was a student. He worked on two occasions, in 2004 and 2005, and was paid £480 for three weeks’ work.

The Hope revelations come in the wake of Tory MP Derek Conway’s suspension from the House of Commons. Conway paid his son, a full-time student, from his parliamentary allowances and had no record of the work he had done. About 100 MPs employ relatives to work for them.

“I have no doubt that Phil has not done anything wrong,” said Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the Directory of Social Change. “But this is about access. The voluntary sector spends a great deal of its time campaigning for those people who are normally excluded to have access to opportunities. People with disabilities, mental health issues, educational deficits – all those who might benefit hugely from the chance to work for an MP – are effectively being excluded by essentially nepotistic practices.”

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