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.

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

QA/BA - Agile

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

Primary Supply Teacher

£121 - £142 per annum: Randstad Education Luton: Early Years, KS1 & 2 Prim...

Primary Supply Teacher

£121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Primary supply teacher Hertford...

KS1 & KS2 Teacher

£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: We are looking for infants and...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?