Conor Burns: the honourable member for Bahrain West

When it comes to holding wrongdoers to account, Tory MP Conor Burns seems to be doing rather better with evil poverty charities than brutal dictatorships. The Bournemouth MP complained to the Charity Commission about Oxfam — while acting as a sycophantic cheerleader for Bahrain.

With the a top secret guest list, it tickled Scrapbook to see Burns sat at the table of top Bahrain lobbyist Lord Clanwilliam (aka Paddy Meade) in guest placings for the Tories’ 2013 Summer Ball obtained by the Guardian and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism.

Clanwilliam calls the dictatorship a “beacon of democracy” — a claim dutifully echoed by Burns, who is chair of the UK-Bahrain All Party Parliamentary Group:

“Bahrain is a maturing democracy following the National Action Charter referendum in 2001 when 98.4% of the country voted in free and open elections in support of reforms being introduced by his majesty.

There is no doubt about his majesty’s total commitment to reform, religious tolerance, openness and transparency.

And while the absolute monarchy refused to allow foreign observers to scrutinise so-called “elections” held in 2010 they were happy to have Burns along on an all-expenses-paid  jolly declared on the Register of Members’ Interests.

Name of donor: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
Address of donor: c/o The Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, 30 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8QB
Amount of donation (or estimate of the probable value): £3,279
Destination of visit: Bahrain
Date of visit: 21-25 October 2010
Purpose of visit: in my capacity as Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bahrain I was invited to visit to country to met with Government Ministers and others and to observe the Parliamentary elections that were taking place during the visit.
(Registered 16 November 2010)

But With the Guardian reporting that seats at the table “sponsored by” the Bahrain lobbyist came to £1,000-per-head, this gift seems a curious omission from the same register.

Parliament’s rules on hospitality “require the registration of all benefits, received from the same source in the course of a calendar year, which cumulatively amount to more than 1 per cent of the current parliamentary salary.”

One percent of Burns’ salary is £670 — so why wasn’t this declared?

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