Jacob Rees Mogg ‘appalled’ after MPs’ staff wasted 650 hours replying to spoof emails

Jacob Rees-Mogg 'appalled' by actions of ethics committee

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Jacob Rees-Mogg said it was “deeply foolish” for academics to send emails to MPs from fictitious constituents as part of a project to gauge response times. The leader of the House of Commons blasted King’s College London after Conservative MP Chris Green said MPs’ staff have wasted an estimated 650 hours responding to spoof emails from King’s College London. Mr Green told the Commons: “Year in, year out, our caseworkers do an immense amount of good work and this has been especially true during the coronavirus pandemic where the casework has gone up immeasurably.

“They are dealing with issues of parents’ fears about the education of their children, businesses on the verge of collapse and people frightened about getting healthcare treatments.

“This is what they are dealing with day in and day out.”

Mr Green said it is “completely the wrong time” for King’s College London to be sending “many hundreds of spoof emails to Members of Parliament.”

He added: “An estimate I’ve seen is that this has consumed about 650 hours of caseworkers’ time to deal with these spoof emails.”

Asking Jacob Rees-Mogg to join him in “condemnation” over the matter, Mr Green said those at King’s College London should “sit down quietly” and “dwell upon the ethics of what they have done”.

Mr Rees-Mogg responded: “I am absolutely appalled by (Mr Green) telling me 650 hours of time have been wasted.

“It shows how deeply foolish the behaviour of King’s College has been, especially in the context of the pandemic, and this is clearly being taken up Mr Speaker by you.

“But I hope the condemnation of the House rings out in the ears of this unethical ethics committee.”

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Speaker Lindsay Hoyle confirmed that he had written to King’s College London regarding the project.

He told the Commons: “I just want to reassure the House that I did send a letter to King’s on behalf of the House and copied in their ethics committee.

“It was appalling what has happened here and I am waiting for a response from the university.

“It is totally unacceptable.”

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Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, Labour MP Sarah Owen said: “To think that people faked being constituents and took up time when we could have been helping real people is totally unacceptable.

“Our time is paid for by the taxpayer and this is a gross exploitation of that.

She added: “It is unethical, it is a waste of taxpayers’ money and it shows a complete lack of understanding of the pressures facing our office resources a year into a global pandemic.”

Responding to the comments, the Commons deputy speaker Eleanor Laing said it was a “disgraceful situation” and revealed that Speaker Lindsay Hoyle was planning to write to the academics.

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