Mr Wilshire has rightly referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, Sir John Lyon. Sir John will decide if there is a case to answer, then conduct an investigation. He will then issue his findings and the Standards Committee will decide on Wilshire's punishment if he is found guilty. This is the same Committee which decided Jacqui Smith should issue an apology on the floor of the House but need not pay any money back. When it decided that punishment I believe 6 Labour MPs were present but only one Conservative was there.
Most people will find it odd, to say the least, that Mr Wilshire was paying his own company for services provided to his office, and no doubt the full details will emerge. His defence is that the arrangement was wholly approved by the House of Commons Fees Office. If this case had arisen two years ago that may well have been the end of the matter. But we all know now that the Fees Office hasn't been fit for purpose for a very long time.
But the Fees Office approval presents Sir John Lyon with a dilemma. He, like them, is a servant of the House. If he finds against Wilshire he will be emulating Sir Thomas Legg and changing the rules retrospectively. Essentially, he will be saying that Wilshire should have used his judgment better, and known that his office arrangement would not stand up to public scrutiny. Fair enough, you might say, but would this really stand up in a court of law? We may well find out.
The Committee itself then has a dilemma. Can it really force Wilshire to pay money back when they let off Jacqui Smith with a mere tap on the knuckles?
So it's not just the Fees Office which isn't fit for purpose, it may well be that we have to make the same judgment about the Parliamentary Standards Committee.
In my view the days of MPs sitting in judgment over each other must draw to a close. The Standards Committee has, over the years, proved itself incapable of ignoring narrow partisan politics and I see little prospect of that changing. The Parliamentary Standards Committee needs replacing by something which is transparently not open to party political game playing.