Tory MP aide to the Attorney General faces standards probe over the £2,000 a MONTH he gets from Saudi Arabia-linked think tank
- Rehman Chishti referred to Commons standards watchdog over payments
- Chishti has declared the earnings as £2,000 a month for 10 hours work
- But questions have been raised over pro-Saudi statements made by Chishti
- Lib Dem Tim Brake questioned whether the cash amounts to paid advocacy
- MPs are not allowed to be paid for positions they take in Parliament
Rehman Chishti is paid £2,000 a month for 10 hours work for the King Faisal Center
Tory MP Rehman Chishti has been referred to the Commons standards watchdog over £2,000 a month he receives from a think tank linked to Saudi Arabia.
The aide to attorney general Jeremy Wright is facing questions over whether the payments from the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies amount to a breach of rules on ‘paid advocacy’.
The King Faisal Center is a think tank and non-governmental pressure group that describes its work as ‘supporting and developing research and studies that spread King Faisal’s vision’.
Mr Chishti has twice mentioned a visit he made to Saudi Arabia during Commons debates this year.
The Times today reported Liberal Democrat Tom Brake had written to Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary standards commissioner, to raise concerns about the arrangement.
Mr Brake said: ‘It is clear that, as he registered his role with the centre on the 24th February 2016, he knew at that point that he was going to receive payment from the centre.
‘Is it a breach of the code for a member to advocate for a foreign government closely linked to an NGO in the knowledge that, in just a few days, they will be receiving payment from that NGO?
‘Is there also a case to be made under section V, paragraph 10 of the code of conduct that receiving funding from an NGO, closely linked to the Saudi government, is not in the public interest?’
Mr Chishti told The Times: ‘My role as an adviser to the King Faisal Centre, which is an independent think-tank based in Riyadh and not funded by the Saudi government, commenced on the 1st March 2016 and as far as I am concerned is declared with the House of Commons in accordance with its rules.’
The Commons register of interest details all income MPs received over an above their basic salary – in Mr Chishti’s case £74,962.
The Gillingham and Rainham MP is a parliamentary private secretary to Mr Wright – the lowest rung of the ministerial ladder and an unpaid role.
In the declaration of interests, which first included his new role on February 24, Mr Chishti said he was an ‘adviser’ to the King Faisal Center.
He said: ‘The role will involve providing advice to the centre on its work on international relations covering Europe and the Middle East, for which I will be paid £2,000 per month until further notice.’
The entry adds ‘Hours: 10 hours per month’.
In the declaration of interests, which first included his new role on February 24, Mr Chishti said he was an ‘adviser’ to the King Faisal Center