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19 October 2022

Nadine Dorries could be barred from House of Lords over “brutal” select committee report

MPs appear set to condemn the former culture secretary for misleading them by claiming participants in a Channel 4 reality TV show were actors.

By William Turvill

All eyes in Westminster will be on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee this Thursday night (20 October). The committee is due to publish the results of an investigation into whether Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary, misled MPs by claiming that participants in a Channel 4 reality TV show were actors. 

Westminster sources say the report will be “absolutely brutal” for Dorries and could block her path into the House of Lords.  

The DCMS committee, which is chaired by fellow Conservative MP Julian Knight, launched its investigation into Dorries in July after Channel 4 said it had found no evidence in support of her claims of fakery.  

Dorries, who served as Boris Johnson’s culture secretary before being replaced by Michelle Donelan under Liz Truss, made the allegations in a DCMS select committee hearing in May.  

In 2010, Dorries was one of a number of MPs who were filmed living in deprived communities for Channel 4’s Tower Block of Commons series.  Asked about the show by the committee in May, Dorries, who at the time was pushing for Channel 4 to be privatised, said of some of the people she encountered: “I later discovered they were actually actors.”  

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She added: “The parents of some of the boys in that programme contacted me and came here to have lunch with me to tell me that the boys were in acting school. They weren’t really living in a flat, they weren’t real… If you remember, there’s a pharmacist I went to see who prepared food – she was also a paid actor as well.”  

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At the time, Love Productions, which made the show for Channel 4, issued a statement saying Dorries’ claims were “unfounded”.  Channel 4 then announced in July that its own investigation had found no “evidence to support the allegations made about the programme”.  

Westminster sources told the New Statesman that Dorries could well be barred from entering the House of Lords if she is found to have misled MPs with her claims. Dorries, who has remained loyal to Johnson and has spoken out against Truss government policies, had been widely tipped to become a Conservative peer after she resigned as culture secretary in September.

[See also: The race to succeed Liz Truss begins]