THE SNP’s John Nicolson has been accused of misleading the public by the Speaker of the House of Commons. 

In a rare intervention, a clearly livid Lindsay Hoyle criticised the MP for sharing “a partial and biased account” of private correspondence about former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

The row is over comments made by the ex-Tory minister about “paid actors” on Channel 4's 2010 television show Tower Block of Commons.

Ms Dorries appeared in the show alongside three other MPs, with each of them spending seven days on a different housing estate with a budget of £64.30- the weekly Jobseekers Allowance at the time. 

After being promoted to cabinet by Boris Johnson, Ms Dorries told the Commons Culture committee: “The parents of some of the boys in that programme contacted me and came here to have lunch to tell me that the boys were in acting school.

“They were not really living in a flat—they were not real. They were actually actors.”

The comments came as the government prepared to privatise Channel 4. 

However, an investigation by the broadcaster and show maker, Love Productions found nothing to support the claims. 

Last month, the committee said Ms Dorries should have corrected the record “for the integrity of parliamentary scrutiny.”

The report said they were “concerned Ms Dorries appears to have taken an opportunity, under the protection of privilege, to traduce the reputation of Channel 4.”

The Committee added: “Had Ms Dorries remained secretary of state, driving a policy of selling the channel, we may have sought a referral to the privileges committee but, as her claims have not inhibited the work of the committee and she no longer has a position of power over the future of Channel 4, we are, instead, publishing this report to enable the House, and its members, to draw their own conclusions.”

Mr Nicolson then sent a copy of the report to the Speaker. 

Earlier this week, in a video posted on Twitter, the former BBC newsreader told followers: “Now the committee published an excoriating report, and I don't think that Nadine Dories, because of that, should go to the House of Lords in Boris Johnson's resignation honours list. 

“So I sent a copy of the report to Mr Speaker, and he's responded and I thought I should update you on what he said. 

“He says that he's considered my letter, but he's decided to take no further action and not to refer Nadine Doris to the Privileges Committee. In other words, she'll suffer no consequences for what she's done. And I thought you should know.”

The video, which has been viewed more than 615,000 times, sparked an angry backlash against the Speaker. 

Addressing the Commons after Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Hoyle explained why he had taken no action against Ms Dorries. 

“I declined to do so since the bar for such a complaint is high. The House should only take action when essential in order to provide reasonable protection for the House, its members or its officers from improper obstruction.” 

The Speaker pointed to the committee’s report and said he believed it “appropriate to respect the committee's assessment of the situation.” 

Mr Hoyle added: “Correspondence on matters of privilege is private, indeed, I had to go to great lengths to ensure that members can write to me in confidence on any matter knowing the communication will remain private. 

“I expect the same courtesy in my replies. 

“The honourable member has seen fit to give a partial, unbiased account of my letter on Twitter, and I await his apology.“

Mr Nicolson then took his feet to say that he deplored “social media pile-ons against you or indeed anyone else.” 

“I've been on the receiving end of them and they're exceedingly unpleasant,” he added. 

“But could I ask for guidance on what I and other members should tell their constituents about integrity and politics in this context, if someone misleads the committee, what should happen next?”

Mr Hoyle replied to say that publishing half a letter was “not integrity, in fact far from it.” 

He added: “It misled the people of this country. It certainly put me in bad light with the people of this country, and I don't expect that to happen with an impartial Speaker. 

“So if that was an apology, I don't think it was very good.”

The Tory MP David Davis said Mr Nicolson had knowingly broken rules around “upholding the institutions in this house.” 

“But we also have a duty to tell the truth. Now, in his public pronouncements, he implicitly criticised you Mr Speaker for not referring the DCMS Secretary of State to the privileges committee, but you were simply following the convention of agreeing with the DCMS select committee of which he is a member. 

“And when they decided not to refer, there was no Minority Report from him. There was not even a vote against from him. It was a unanimous vote. So what he was trying to do Mr Speaker, was to blame you by his partial release of his letter. 

“And he was leading a public to believe that somehow you made this decision against the wishes of the committee. 

“The rules of this house do not allow me to assert whether I view the misleading of the public as deliberate, so the house can make its own judgment of that.

"But this miserable half apology was completely inadequate for the breach of this measure.”