Parliament ends mole hunt for source of Sun Candy Crush scoop - Press Gazette

Parliament ends mole hunt for source of Sun Candy Crush scoop

Parliamentary authorities have decided no one will be punished for filming an MP as he played the Candy Crush Saga game on his iPad while taking part in a committee hearing.

An investigation was launched into a breach of photography rules after pictures of Tory Nigel Mills appeared in The Sun on Monday – forcing him to issue an apology.

The investigation sparked criticism over the decision to pursue whoever exposed him rather than the politician himself.

A House of Commons spokesman said in a statement today that it was "standard procedure that any breach of the filming and photography rules brought to the attention of the House is investigated".

He went on: "The Serjeant at Arms has concluded the investigation into this breach and has issued a reminder of the current rules; no further action will be taken."

Photographs published by The Sun showed Mills playing Candy Crush during a Work and Pensions Committee evidence session.

The Amber Valley MP, who was issued with a tablet at the taxpayers' expense, initially told the newspaper he would merely "try" not to be diverted by the game again.

But later gave a guarantee he would stop playing during official proceedings, saying: "I apologise unreservedly for my behaviour at the committee meeting and realise it fell short of what is expected of a Member of Parliament."

The Sun, in an editorial yesterday, said the story about Mills' use of the iPad to play computer games during the committee meeting was "squarely in the public interest" and went on: "But Commons authorities believe the only scandal is how it got out. This is exactly what we saw during the Plebgate scandal.

"Once Andrew Mitchell's class-ridden tirade at cops was exposed by The Sun, the police's sole interest was to find and punish those who leaked it. They even abused the law to do so.

"This is Britain since the Leveson Inquiry, that declaration of war on the Press by the elite we are here to hold to account."

The Daily Mail also criticised the decision to launch the mole-hunt, saying Commons authorities wanted find the source of the picture and were threatening to punish anyone who published it.

The newspaper added: "After the weekend revelations that MPs are required to work only two days a week until the election, while putting ever more family members on the public payroll, this paper asked yesterday if it was any wonder that the political class is held in contempt.

"Today, we make no apology for putting the same question again."

Mills was photographed when the committee met last Monday to discuss pensions and the insurance industry ahead of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.

Commons rules state that: "No one should photograph, film or sketch or have their voice recorded anywhere within the Parliamentary Estate without permission."

Taking images without permission can lead to individuals being barred from the estate.

The Serjeant at Arms has scope to impose some punishments, but "serious breaches" are reported to the Administration Committee.

Commons Speaker John Bercow made clear to MPs that chairs of select committees were free to step in to prevent MPs playing games or other inappropriate activities during hearings.

The authorities declined to say whether the public interest in exposing the MP's behaviour was a factor in deciding not to pursue the matter any further – or whether any individual had been identified by the mole hunt.

"The Serjeant's not going to go into detail about the investigation or resulting decision," the spokesman said.



Press Gazette's must-read weekly newsletter featuring interviews, data, insight and investigations.