- Giles Chichester is innocent until proven otherwise and deserves the time to prove that his expenses have been used properly. Mr Chichester has properly stood down as Leader so that the party is not compromised during this investigative period. If he is not cleared of wrongdoing in the coming weeks then he should lose the Conservative whip in the same way that Derek Conway lost the Tory whip but that is an issue for another day.
- It is not sufficient for Mr Chichester to pass the standards of the European Parliament. The Parliament has been very slow to pass ethics rules and many of its members will fear that any harsh judgment of one of their members may compromise their own position. Mr Cameron must make it clear that the Conservative Party will be making its own judgment on Mr Chichester's account of his use of expenses.
- The Conservative Party must proactively order all MEPs to be transparent. The party cannot wait for newspapers and blogs to uncover other examples of alleged wrongdoing. It should start (but only start) by requiring all Conservative MEPs to answer Open Europe's questions on transparency:
David Cameron has rightly imposed these rules on MPs. He must now extend them to cover MEPs too. Any MEP not willing to accept them should not be a candidate at the 2009 Euro elections.
- All Conservative MEPs must answer basic questions as to how they handle their expenses and name their service providers.
- They need to state the nature of these “service providers” and who they employ.
- There is a particular need to establish whether MEPs and their relatives been paid directly or indirectly by the service providers.