Tynwald members have been warned about abusing parliamentary privilege.

Steve Rodan made a president’s ruling following an attempt last month by a member of the public to circulate papers ’containing certain allegations’.

Under parliamentary privilege, no action can arise from anything said in Tynwald.

However, ’we must be careful not to misuse this privilege, ’said Mr Rodan. ’I must be able to ensure that any papers circulated which may be referred to in debate are not unfairly going to expose a person to criticism who will not have a right of reply.

Under standing orders, unless it is of such a nature that publication would be inconsistent with the public interest, no document maybe referred to unless a copy has been distributed to all members with the consent of the president.

’It is important for members to remember that this rule is for the protection of members and public,’ said Mr Rodan.

’It is not appropriate to circulate under cover of parliamentary privilege statements or letters prepared by persons outside the court which aren’t in the event adopted by the member circulating them.

’Such documents may contain very serious allegations or claims. It is wrong and an abuse of the privilege of Tynwald for allegations or claims of this sort to be put into circulation where they cannot be tested and when no member is actually adopting them as part of their case in debate.’

Mr Rodan reminded members that when they circulate such papers or make comments based on them, they are personally responsible for the statements they make.

He said although MHKs and MLCs cannot be sued for statement they make in Tynwald they are obliged to abide by the principles of their code of practice.

’It is a serious abuse to circulate allegations which are not supported by evidence or which are merely speculative. Mr Rodan added.