‘No Incidents of Drug Use have been Reported’Speaker Lindsay Hoyle U-Turns on Parliament Drugs Crackdown
Sam Bright and Rachel Morris report on a change of mood from the Commons Speaker, after he threatened tough action on the Westminster drugs culture just a few months ago
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House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has seemingly decided against escalating reports of parliamentary drugs use to the Metropolitan Police, Byline Times can reveal.
Last December, Hoyle promised a crackdown on drug use on the parliamentary estate, amid growing evidence of cannabis and cocaine being used openly.
The Sunday Times had reported on the use of cocaine by MP David Warburton, who was later suspended from the Conservative Party.
Commons officials received reports late last year that cannabis could be smelled in the open space between Portcullis House – which contains MPs’ offices and meeting rooms – and 1 Parliament Street. Two drug dealers were also arrested and 13 people were detained for drugs possession on or around the parliamentary estate in the space of a year.
The Sunday Times sources described casual cocaine use by a group of MPs and evidence was found of the Class A drug in 11 out of 12 locations tested in the building, including places accessible only to those with parliamentary passes. Evidence of cocaine was identified in the toilets nearest the private offices of the Prime Minister and Home Secretary.
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Hoyle told Sky News that “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”.
He 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.”
However, following renewed concerns this week about the use of drugs by parliamentarians, members of the public have asked Hoyle’s office for further clarification about the steps that have been taken.
In response to one individual (below), Hoyle’s office said: “Contrary to press reports, no incidents of drug usage have been reported to the parliamentary authorities or, as far as we have been made aware, the Metropolitan Police in the past five years. Should drug use be identified in Parliament, appropriate action would be taken. Any allegation of criminal behaviour is, of course, ultimately a matter for the police.”
This directly contradicts Hoyle’s previous acknowledgement of a drugs problem in Parliament and his pledge to escalate the issue – suggesting that the matter has not been escalated to the Met because no formal complaints have been made.
Parliament is famously replete with bars, which have fuelled an alcohol problem in the corridors of power. Yet, when Hoyle was running to replace John Bercow as Speaker in late 2019, he noted that “it’s not just drink we’ve got to catch out, there is a drug problem”.
Former Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten recently told Andrew Marr that “drugs are commonplace” in Parliament and that he “used to know of MPs who were snorting coke off their office desks” and “saw political editors of national newspapers snorting it off toilet seats”.
However, despite all this evidence, it appears as though Hoyle has not seen fit to deliver on the crackdown that he promised just a few months ago.