Labour Party suspends peers Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord Cunningham in new cash-for-questions scandal

Reporters posing as lobbyists filmed peers ‘offering to sell parliamentary influence’

Two peers, including a former cabinet minister, were suspended from the Labour Party on Sunday after being filmed apparently offering to use their power and influence in Parliament for cash.

Lord Cunningham, who served  in Tony Blair’s government as Agriculture minister, and the former senior police officer Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate were recorded by undercover reporters posing as lobbyists seemingly boasting at how they get round House of Lords rules to promote their client’s interests.

For £144,000 a year Lord Cunningham claimed to be able to offer to arrange parliamentary questions on behalf of a fictitious solar energy company, arrange company events in the House of Lords and lobby ministers on the firm’s behalf. A third peer, Lord Laird, resigned the Ulster Unionist Party whip after being targeted by the same investigation.

It comes just two days after the Tory MP Patrick Mercer resigned the whip after being filmed by Panorama apparently offering to use his parliamentary privileges to lobby on behalf of Fiji.

The revelations will increase the pressure on David Cameron finally to follow through on his manifesto pledge to clean up the UK’s lobbying industry and introduce a mechanism for MPs to be kicked out of the House of Commons.

In a statement, Labour said the peers had been suspended “pending further investigation”. “The Labour Party expects the highest standards of its representatives and believes they have a duty to be transparent and accountable at all times,” the party said.

All three peers deny breaching the rules and have referred themselves to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards.

Lord Cunningham, a privy counsellor who led the joint committee on Lords reform under Tony Blair, asked for a fee to provide a lobbying service. He told the reporters, who were posing as representatives of a South Korean solar energy company, he would become their advocate at Westminster. Lord Cunningham said he offered “value for money” because he could introduce them to senior figures in all three parties.

“Introductions and getting to see people, including the ministers – this is part of the package,” he said.

He would be happy to ask questions in the Lords and could “get other people to ask questions as well”. He could also host receptions on the terrace for the reporters and their fake client.

But on Sunday he said he had been using the meeting to test his suspicions that he was being targeted by a scam. “I quickly became suspicious of them and the money they were offering. What the [Sunday Times] article does not make clear is that I told the undercover journalists I always stick to the rules and declare any interests. The article also fails properly to acknowledge the fact I informed them the next day I wanted nothing more to do with them.”

Lord Mackenzie described navigating parliamentary lobbying rules as “walking on eggshells”, but denied any wrongdoing. “I’m very meticulous about what I do and what I don’t do and make sure that I’m not crossing the boundary. When I left that interview, I checked the code of conduct in the House of Lords and I came to the decision that it was very near the mark and I immediately emailed the people who did the interviewing and I said that I’m not interested.”

The Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said both the recent Lords and Commons scandals underlined the need for legislative action. He said it was “very unlikely” the Government would go into the next election without a statutory register in place, and attributed the delay in implementing it to “sorting out the final details”.

Peer pressure: Lords under investigation

Lord Cunningham

Rose through the unions, joining the shadow Cabinet in 1983. Agriculture Minister from 1997, then Minister for the Cabinet Office. Led a joint committee on Lords reform under Tony Blair. Created Baron Cunningham of Felling in 2005. Allegedly offered to introduce reporters to senior figures for £12,000 a month. Denies any wrongdoing but has been suspended pending an investigation.

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate

Rose through police force to president of Police Superintendents’ Association, then law-and-order adviser to Tony Blair. Introduced the idea of a sex offenders’ register. Was made a peer in 1998. Allegedly offered to ask questions and host events for paying clients. Denies the allegations. Has been suspended by Labour pending investigation.

Lord Laird

Became the youngest member of Northern Ireland parliament in 1970, winning by-election prompted by the death of his father. Entered the Lords in 1999. Claimed he could swap questions with other Lords and offered to set up an all-party parliamentary group to push reporters’ interests. Denies allegations but has resigned the Ulster Unionist party whip.

News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Irradiated turkey and freeze dried mash potato will be on the menu this thanksgiving
video
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Langley James : CRM Services Manager; West London up to £40k

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Langley James : CRM Services Manager; West London u...

Langley James : IT Support; Residential Agency; Mayfair; up to £30k

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Residential Agency; May...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?