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Labour peer Oona King moved to the US for lucrative jobs while keeping Baroness title


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Labour peer Oona King is facing calls to quit after it emerged she moved to the US for lucrative jobs in Silicon Valley while keeping her Baroness title

  • Campaigners and MPs accuse Labour peer of bringing parliament into disrepute
  • Oona King, 51, took an open-ended ‘leave of absence’ in November 2016
  • She has not been in the House of Lords since and moved to the US to take on jobs
  • She lives in a £1.4million home in California with her husband and four children

A Labour peer who moved to the US to take on lucrative jobs in Silicon Valley was last night facing calls to give up her title.

Oona King, 51, has not appeared in the House of Lords since taking an open-ended ‘leave of absence’ in November 2016 and moving to San Francisco to work for Google.

The former Labour minister, who lives in a £1.4million home in California with her husband and four children, has been allowed to keep her title and is exempt from a code of conduct that requires peers to disclose relevant interests.

Oona King, 51, has not appeared in the House of Lords since taking an open-ended ‘leave of absence’ in November 2016 and moving to San Francisco to work for Google

In May Baroness King spoke at the University of California, Berkeley, where she accepted an award in recognition of her ‘work in British parliament’.

She continues to describe herself as an active member of the Lords on her official website and Twitter, which she has used to call for a second referendum.

In May Baroness King spoke at the University of California, Berkeley, where she accepted an award in recognition of her ‘work in British parliament’. She continues to describe herself as an active member of the Lords on her official website and Twitter, which she has used to call for a second referendum

In May Baroness King spoke at the University of California, Berkeley, where she accepted an award in recognition of her ‘work in British parliament’. She continues to describe herself as an active member of the Lords on her official website and Twitter, which she has used to call for a second referendum

Campaigners and MPs accused her of bringing parliament into disrepute. Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the committee for standards in public life, said peers should be limited to one year off – after which they should give up their title.

A spokesman for the Electoral Reform Society said: ‘People who want the prestige of being a peer with none of the responsibilities shouldn’t be able to keep their titles.’

The group’s chief executive Darren Hughes added: ‘These findings make the House of Lords look more like a private members’ club than ever – with members keeping their titles while never having to turn up. That’s no basis for a decent scrutiny chamber.

‘Tightening up the rules on leaves of absence could be one option in the short term, but the real issue is the fact that none of the 800-odd peers have no obligation to turn up. That creates huge potential for conflicts of interests and lobbying on behalf of companies and other states.

‘We have no way of holding them to account. It is time for a fairly-elected upper house to end the farce of unaccountable, absentee Lords. We need a fairly-elected revising chamber that Britain can be truly proud of.’

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen called on Baroness King to give up her title. He added: ‘Public service requires some sacrifice. She would appear to be reaping all the accolades that come with her peerage without giving anything back to the public.

‘The fact that she has spoken regularly in the US about her work in British politics is merely rubbing salt into the wounds and makes a mockery of the peerage system. She has brought the entirety of the British parliament into disrepute.’

Campaigners and MPs accused her of bringing parliament into disrepute. Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the committee for standards in public life, said peers should be limited to one year off – after which they should give up their title [File photo]

Campaigners and MPs accused her of bringing parliament into disrepute. Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the committee for standards in public life, said peers should be limited to one year off – after which they should give up their title [File photo]

Baroness King is one of 17 absent peers. They forfeit their parliamentary rights, such as voting, taking part in debates, asking questions of government ministers along with a daily £305 allowance and expenses.

They do not have to give a reason for taking leave and can return to the Lords whenever they want without having to declare what they have been up to. At least five on leave are working in the private sector. Others appear to have simply retired.

Critics are concerned by entries on the register of interests being recorded as ‘nil’ for several peers who work for businesses at the centre of major political disputes.

Lord Browne, who became chairman of the UK subsidiary of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in 2015, took a leave of absence in March 2018. A spokesman for the peer said he was fulfilling’ a trio of public service and charitable commitments’.

Baroness King has not responded to requests for comment.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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