In a new row over sleaze in British politics, three members of the House of Lords were on Sunday facing investigation after they were secretly filmed offering to lobby for a fake private company in return for cash.
Lords Brian Mackenzie and Jack Cunningham (both Labour) and Lord John Laird of the Ulster Unionist Party offered to ask parliamentary questions, host events in the House of Lords premises where their clients could meet ministers, and lobby the government on their behalf.
They were approached by journalists from The Sunday Times posing as representatives of a fake solar energy company which wanted new laws to benefit its business. Footage shows the three — filmed separately — as seeking thousands of pounds for their services.
“Are you suggesting £10,000 a month? Make that…£12,000 a month. I think we could do a deal on that,” Lord Cunningham says promising full “value for money”.
Lord Mackenzie offered to arrange parties for paying clients and approach ministers to “bend their ear”.
“I’ve got access to people that you probably wouldn’t have access to you if you weren’t in the House of Lords.”
Lord Laird was reported to be “happy” to lobby for the firm “for a minor consideration”.
“All you’re simply doing, really, is using the services of a public relations guy who happens to be in the Lords. It’s like going to a dentist who happens to be in the Lords.”
All three denied any wrongdoing.
Labour suspended its two peers pending investigation.
The row came a day after a Tory MP Patrick Mercer was forced to resign from the party after being filmed demanding money for lobbying during a sting operation by the BBC and The Daily Telegraph.