Exclusive: Mordaunt accused of misleading parliament over committee record
Defeated Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt has been accused of misleading the House of Commons over her record as a trade minister, City A.M. can reveal.
Mordaunt today said she had never turned down an appearance request at Westminster’s International Trade Committee in an apparent jab at trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who has turned down several requests.
However, Department for International Trade (DIT) sources now claim this is not true and that she refused to face scrutiny at a hearing of the cross-party committee in May – an allegation which Mordaunt denies.
Misleading the House of Commons as a minister is traditionally an offence that leads to resignations.
The claims are the latest saga in an escalating civil war within the department, with Mordaunt and Trevelyan firing shots at each other this week as the Tory leadership contest turned nasty.
Mordaunt was asked to attend sessions of the trade committee in May to speak about the Australia and New Zealand trade deals, after Trevelyan could not make it, but declined the offer.
A senior trade department source said Mordaunt should have gone to the hearing as “she is the bill minister for Australia and New Zealand” and that the trade minister “lied to the house” today.
Mordaunt also refused to attend a Northern Ireland Select Committee hearing on trade policy in the region this year, according to a Telegraph article from last week.
Mordaunt’s DIT spokesperson said: “Minister Mordaunt has attended all committee sessions she has been invited to attend by parliament, including multiple sessions which covered the Australian Free Trade Agreement.
“All DIT ministers take their attendance at committee sessions very seriously.”
One MP on the International Trade Committee joked that “perhaps DIT is so disorganised she wasn’t informed”.
It comes after City A.M. exclusively reported last week that Mordaunt had been accused by her trade colleagues of “going missing for months”, with one saying the department had been “down a minister” for a long time.
This led to Trevelyan telling LBC this week that Mordaunt had prioritised her potential leadership campaign over her ministerial job for several months and that “there have been a number of times when she hasn’t been available … and other ministers have picked up the pieces”.
Mordaunt’s supporters blame a “smear campaign” for her failure to get into the final two of the Tory party leadership contest, and proceed to the members voting round, after a series of press stories questioned her record in government.
The trade minister shot into favouritism last week to become next PM, however her campaign was derailed after two lacklustre debate performances and a series of brutal attacks by her current and former bosses.
Mordaunt mocked Trevelyan in the Commons today, saying: “I’m amazed to find myself here this morning given my reported work ethic, but I am here.”