MP Daniel Kawczynski was paid £15k to appear at Qatar conference
The Shrewsbury & Atcham MP has defended his appearance at The Qatar, Global Security & Stability conference.
A county MP was paid £15,000 to speak at a conference about Qatar, which also featured former Conservative leader Ian Duncan-Smith.
Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski today explained that the event took place outside of parliamentary business and was fully declared through the House of Commons’ register.
The Qatar, Global Security & Stability conference took place last year. It was said to have been organised by Qatar opposition groups.
Mr Kawczynski, who was chairman of the All Party Saudi Arabia Group for seven years, said he had been asked to speak at the conference because of his knowledge of the Middle East.
He said: “Over the last 20 years I have spoken at thousands of engagements both in this country and overseas.
"I have raised thousands of pounds for charity and I have never charged a penny for any of these engagements.
“For the first time I accepted a payment for me to speak at an event and I was delighted that I was selected as an expert on the Middle East, alongside such eminent people as former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown and Iain Duncan-Smith, the former leader of the Conservative Party.
“We were paid by our foreign hosts for our expertise and understanding about the Middle East.
"It was also on an occasion when parliament was not sitting so I missed no work in parliament.
“I have never charged any British taxpayers for any speaking engagement and my remuneration pales into insignificance compared to Mr Blair, who charges hundreds of thousands for speaking engagements, and my fee was immediately declared appropriately through the House of Commons process.”
The Shrewsbury MP declared two £7,500 payments on the parliamentary register of members’ interests for 48 hours work.
There is no suggestion that he broke parliamentary rules.
Qatar is currently the subject of a diplomatic boycott from a number of Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.
The country has been accused of supporting terrorism, something it strongly denies.
Qatar's alleged sponsorship of "terrorist groups" was reported by Al Jazeera as one of the main subjects at the London conference.
Mr Kawczynski said he and other speakers at the event were asked to provide their understanding on the "profound crisis" and "what needs to be done to rectify it".