Caroline Lucas investigated over election fundraisers

Peter Walker Political correspondent
Photograph: House of Commons/PA

Parliamentary standards authorities are investigating Caroline Lucas for allegedly breaching rules by offering a tour of the House of Commons in an election fundraiser after a complaint from a Conservative MP.

Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion since 2015, insisted she has done nothing wrong, but said she cannot comment further as investigations by the parliamentary commissioner for standards are confidential.

News of the investigation came after a former Ukip candidate made a complaint about a pre-election fundraiser in which Lucas’s team raised nearly £18,500 by offering rewards in exchange for donations, such as a cake baked by the MP if you gave £100.

Another item was the chance for one person to received a 3o-minute “personal guided tour of House of Commons” if Lucas was re-elected, in return for a donation of £150.

According to the Code of Conduct and related rules of the House, a 150-page document given to all MPs, members “must not offer tours of the House or of the Elizabeth Tower or Big Ben in raffles or auctions”.

Stuart Bower, formerly a Ukip council candidate in Brighton and Hove, told the Brighton Argus newspaper that he had complained to the commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, about “unethical” conduct by Lucas, but that he had received a reply saying another complaint on the same matter was already being investigated.

It is understood that the initial complaint was made by a Conservative MP, whose identity remains unknown. It is also understood that Stone asked Bower to keep the matter confidential, but that he opted to go to his local newspaper.

In a statement, Lucas, the Greens’ first and so far only MP, said: “I’m aware that a case against me has been brought to the commissioner, and an investigation is currently under way. I do not believe I have done anything wrong.

“I have been advised that the commissioner’s investigations are confidential so it would not be appropriate for me to say anything more at this time.”

It is not unusual for candidates from smaller parties or independents to seek financial help to fight a general election campaign. At the last election, former Conservative Dominic Grieve, raised more than £35,000 from members of the public.

Other incentives offered by Lucas in her fundraiser included £250 for lunch with the MP in Brighton, or £50 for a signed T-shirt with a slogan advocating proportional representation.