Politics

Commons Speaker goes to police over claims of cocaine use at Westminster


Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said he will call in police over “deeply concerning” allegations of drug use in the Palace of Westminster.

And in a warning to anyone bringing cocaine or other illegal substances into parliament, the Speaker said he was treating the matter as a priority and wanted to see “full and effective enforcement of the law” with serious sanctions for those flouting the rules.

Sir Lindsay’s move comes after the Sunday Times reported that an investigation found evidence of cocaine in 11 out of 12 locations tested in the building.

One senior MP said it was time to consider bringing in sniffer dogs to detect illicit substances.

The Speaker said: “The accounts of drug misuse in Parliament given to the Sunday Times are deeply concerning – and I will be raising them as a priority with the Metropolitan Police next week.

“I expect to see full and effective enforcement of the law.”

Sir Lindsay added: “While parliament provides extensive support services for any staff or members who may need help with drug misuse – and I would encourage anyone struggling with such issues to take up such help – for those who choose to flout the law and bring the institution into disrepute the sanctions are serious.”

The Sunday Times reported that Commons officials had received reports last month that cannabis could be smelt in an open space – often used by staff for cigarette breaks – between two parliamentary buildings housing MPs’ offices and committee rooms.

Cocaine detection wipe tests carried out in a single evening on 12 locations in parliament found evidence of the class A substance in lavatories near the offices of prime minster Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel, as well other washrooms, the paper said.

And the newspaper quoted anonymous Westminster sources as claiming that drug use was rife among some staff and MPs.

One was quoted as saying: “I have seen an MP openly snorting cocaine at a party. There were journalists present and I warned them that what they were doing was extremely dangerous and they could be exposed but they seemed to get off on the power trip.”

And another said: “MPs tend to be more careful than staff and will go back to their office to do it rather than doing it in any of the public spaces, but I have heard of one staffer who walked in on their MP doing a late-night line at their desk.”

One Westminster veteran told the paper: “There is a cocaine culture in parliament. Some people are at it all the time and are totally blasé. Others dabble. Some are household names, some are ambitious young MPs and officials, but all of them risk throwing away their careers. They think they are untouchable, protected by their friends in the bubble. It’s shocking but also sad. Lots of them need help.”

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