The English ICA this week caused an outcry when it handed out a #1,000 fine and a reprimand to Tim Smith, the disgraced chartered accountant and former minister who resigned his safe seat over the cash-for-questions scandal.
Smith, who was charged with bringing the profession into disrepute in September, faced expulsion from the institute after he was severely criticised by Sir Gordon Downey, the parliamentary standards commissioner.
However, the insitute’s disciplinary tribunal decided to impose a #1,000 fine and costs of #2,150, because of the ‘substantial positive contribution that (Smith) had made to the profession in the wider sense over a very long period of time’.
Smith, who attended the disciplinary hearing in person, was found guilty of misconduct after he admitted that as an MP he ‘improperly accepted’ around #18,000 from Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed in return for lobbying services.
He was also found guilty of two lesser charges that between May 1987 and January 1989 he failed to enter his financial interests in the House of Commons Register of Members’ Interests, and that for the same period he failed to declare his interest with Al Fayed when dealing with ministers and officials in relation to issues concerning the Egyptian-born tycoon.
Smith, who has been unemployed since his resignation in April, said he planned to pick up the pieces of his career. ‘I accept my reprimand and I have paid my fine and costs. I appreciate the Tribunal’s recognition of the contribution I have made to the profession which I hold in the highest regard.
‘I am also profoundly grateful to those many senior members of the profession and others who contacted the Tribunal on my behalf and gave me their support and encouragement,’ he said.
A senior regulator, who asked not to be named, said the lenient treatment of Smith would raise further questions over the profession’s right to regulate itself.
In its report on the affair, the Commons privileges committee said Smith’s conduct ‘fell seriously below the standards which the House is entitled to expect from its members’. Chris Laine, the ICA’s president, refused to comment on the case.
See also Editorial “Tim Smith deserved expulsion”
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