MPs protest their innocence over cash

Members give their side of the story over lobbyist's money. Report by JoJo Moyes and Ian Burrell
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The Independent Online
These are the MPs who had between pounds 500 and pounds 5,000 paid into their 1987 general election campaign funds by Ian Greer, the parliamentary lobbyist in the "cash-for-questions" case.

Yesterday they gave their reasons for accepting the money.

Sir Gerry Vaughan (C) Reading East: "Those sorts of contributions go straight to a fighting fund and are handled by my agent. I was not even aware that it came from Mr Greer. It never crossed my mind that he might expect anything in return."

Sir Neil Thorne (C) Ilford South until 1992. "During my five general elections I must have had to raise about pounds 40,000 to cover my legal election expenses and I just do not know who has contributed to that. I had no idea at all that it came from Ian Greer, certainly no idea that it had come from someone else, particularly Mr Fayed."

Ken Warren (C) Hastings and Rye until 1992: "I assumed it was based on our acquaintanceship over a period of 30 years. I have never worked for his company at any time or any of his associates. I'm very annoyed."

David Shaw (C) Dover: "It was not really what one regards as significant, and certainly I had done nothing for him in Parliament. I had attended, I think, a drinks party of his at some stage. I have done nothing since for him."

Sir Malcolm Thornton (C) Crosby , chairman of the Education Select Committee: "We don't quiz individual contributions, we just say `thank you'."

Sir Andrew Bowden (C) Brighton Kemptown: "I accepted it as a donation as I would from any businessman . . ."

The Scottish Tory chairman Sir Michael Hirst assumed it was a gesture of support for the Tory party in a marginal seat. "I don't feel remotely compromised. I am a totally innocent bystander."

The former Tory whip Michael Brown, Brigg and Cleethorpes: "I introduced a company, US Tobacco, to Ian Greer, who paid me an introduction fee. I did not declare because I did not think I had to."

Robert Atkins (C) South Ribble: unavailable for comment.

Gerry Bowden, former MP for Dulwich: "Greer made a contribution among hundreds of others to the fighting fund . . . He was personally interested in getting a Tory government elected."

Shadow health secretary Chris Smith: "I have never received any money personally. No favours have ever been asked, and there would have been a very robust rebuttal if they had tried."

Doug Hoyle, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, said: "Nothing was paid directly to me. I didn't ask for the donation. Nothing has been given in return for the donation."

Alan Beith (LD) Berwick-upon-Tweed: "My local association received a donation to the general election appeal from Ian Greer, or his company, in 1987." No contact since.

Sir David Trippier (C) Rossendale and Darwen, Minister for Small Businesses until 1987: "Money came in from Ian Greer as it did from various sources . . . If The Independent had sent me money I would probably have accepted it."

Michael Portillo, (C) Enfield, Defence Secretary: Declined to comment.

Baroness Chalker, Minister for Overseas Development: "She will not be commenting until she returns [from Norway]."

Lord Tebbit, former Tory party chairman: Unavailable for comment.

Sir Anthony Durrant (C) Reading West: "Assumed he had sent it out of friendship; that it was a generous offer and had nothing to do with anything else."

The office of Gerry Malone (C) Winchester: "Nothing further to add to what is in the paper."

Nirj Deva (C) Brentford: "The money comes into the association and the candidate never knows where the money is coming from. I suppose Greer was trying to be seen as a good fellow."

The agent for David Mellor (C) Putney: "It was from Mr Greer as a constituent in Putney and was received in all good faith."

Norman Lamont (C) Kingston-upon-Thames: "I think it is a row about nothing. Mr Greer is a Conservative. and I was hardly surprised that he made a donation to the party."

Lord Moore, John Lee, Colin Moynihan: either unavailable or declined to comment.

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