Peers in the clear: Lord Dannatt and Lord Stirrup 'did not break lobbying rules'

Peers alleged to have boasted about influence with MoD officials to secure contracts for private firms

Two peers who were accused of using their influence within the Ministry of Defence to lobby on behalf of commercial interests have been cleared of breaching House of Lords rules.

Lord Dannatt, the former head of the army, and the former chief of the defence staff Lord Stirrup were investigated by the Lord Commissioner for Standards after claims that they had boasted about lobbying top officials to secure contracts for private firms, breaching the House’s code of conduct.

The report by Paul Kernaghan dismissed complaints against the men, but made it clear that the investigation only concentrated on whether they had breached the code. The initial allegations were made in a report in The Sunday Times, which claimed the former forces chiefs had boasted about their range of influence in military procurement.

Lord Dannatt had "candidly talked about side-stepping a ban on discussion of a £400 million contract by 'targeting' the MoD's top civil servant, with whom he went to school," according to the newspaper.

The peer, who was an adviser to David Cameron before the 2010 election, said he offered to "facilitate conversations" but had rejected an £8,000 monthly fee offer.

The Commissioner said: "I have not found any evidence that Lord Dannatt breached the Code of Conduct. The only references to the House of Lords in the transcript are limited to briefings arranged by ministers and visits by the serving Chiefs of Staff.

"Lord Dannatt made no claims of using his position as a member to exercise parliamentary influence for personal gain. Nor did he offer to provide parliamentary advice or services.

"He entered into no relationship which gave rise to an interest which had to be registered. Equally, there is no evidence that he had failed to register any other defence-related interest. Thus, I dismiss this complaint against Lord Dannatt."

Lord Stirrup, who was said to be able to call on "old friends and powerful contacts" to help in a lobbying campaign, dismissed the claims as a "totally false picture".

The Commissioner said: "I have not found any evidence that Lord Stirrup breached the Code of Conduct. Indeed, he volunteers to the journalists that an interest of the type they were discussing would have to be entered in the Register of Lords' Interests.

"The only references to the House of Lords in the transcript are limited to Lord Stirrup making it clear that questions should not be asked in pursuit of a specific interest. He then goes on to give his frank views on the merits of parliamentary questions in eliciting information.

"Lord Stirrup made no claims about using his position as a member to exercise parliamentary influence for personal gain. Nor did he offer to provide parliamentary advice or services. He entered into no relationship which gave rise to an interest which had to be registered. Thus, I dismiss this complaint against Lord Stirrup."

In both cases the Commissioner added: "I reiterate that my role is to investigate allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct and not to police members' non-parliamentary activities."

claims about using his position as a member to exercise parliamentary influence for personal gain. Nor did he offer to provide parliamentary advice or services. He entered into no relationship which gave rise to an interest which had to be registered. Thus, I dismiss this complaint against Lord Stirrup."

In both cases the Commissioner added: "I reiterate that my role is to investigate allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct and not to police members' non-parliamentary activities."

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