Draft letter to police re Conor Burns

Paul Cotterill
3 min readMay 26, 2020


[Update 1: I sent it under my own name as no public figure came forward]

[Update 2: 01/06/2020, now under assessment by Met Police]

[Update 3: 29/06/2020, still under assessment]

[Update 4: 26/08/2020, still under assessment, result expected within two weeks]

[Update 5: 01/09/2020, response received and case will not go further because it is a summary offence and out of time under the Magistrates’ Act 1980]

This is a draft letter to Cressida Dick. Please let me know if you are a well-known figure who would like to send this in my stead, meaning it would have more chance of proper consideration.

Commissioner Cressida Dick

Metropolitan Police Service
New Scotland Yard

By Email

Dear Commissioner

Mr Conor Burns MP: Administration of Justice Act 1970

I have had occasion to read the House of Commons Committee on Standards report on the conduct of Mr Conor Burns MP, which was published on May 4th 2020.

Paragraphs 3 to 6 on page 3 of the report indicate that Mr Burns sent a letter to the complainant on House of Commons headed paper, in which a demand for repayment of a loan was made. Paragraph 34 on page 9 of the report carries the Committee’s overall conclusion on the conduct of Mr Burns:

Our overall conclusion is as follows. Like the Commissioner, we are persuaded by the evidence that Mr Burns used his parliamentary position in an attempt to intimidate a member of the public into doing as Mr Burns wished, in a dispute relating to purely private family interests which had no connection with Mr Burns’ parliamentary duties. Mr Burns persisted in making veiled threats to use parliamentary privilege to further his family’s interests even during the course of the Commissioner’s investigation. He also misleadingly implied that his conduct had the support of the House authorities.

Neither the facts nor the conclusion appear to be disputed by Mr Burns, who resigned from his ministerial position on the same day as the report was published.

The report is available online at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmstandards/212/212.pdf

My purpose is writing to you is to point out that, prima facie, the actions of Mr Burns would appear to be a criminal offence under Section 40 (1) of the Administration of Justice Act,1970 (Punishment for unlawful harassment of debtors), which reads:

(1) A person commits an offence if, with the object of coercing another person to pay money claimed from the other as a debt due under a contract, he —

(a)harasses the other with demands for payment which, in respect of their frequency or the manner or occasion of making any such demand, or of any threat or publicity by which any demand is accompanied, are calculated to subject him or members of his family or household to alarm, distress or humiliation;

(b) falsely represents, in relation to the money claimed, that criminal proceedings lie for failure to pay it;

(c ) falsely represents himself to be authorised in some official capacity to claim or enforce payment; or

(d) utters a document falsely represented by him to have some official character or purporting to have some official character which he knows it has not.

Specifically, it seems to me that Mr Burns may have committed an offence under sub-paragraphs (a) and/or (c ) of paragraph (1), given the undisputed findings of the Committee.

The Act is available online at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1970/31/section/40

I would be grateful if you would have this matter reviewed, and let me know whether you intend to proceed. Clearly, it will be a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide on whether prosecution would be in the public interest, though Mr Burns high public office at the time of acts reported to the Committee do suggest to me that the public interest test would be met.

Yours sincerely



Paul Cotterill

Secretary General, Habermasian Labour (UK). Indefatigably focused on the promotion of ethical discourse in the public sphere, except when there's cricket.