Labour Mp’s Caught At It Again
More trough sniffing morons caught out, Muppet’s of the highest order, and why Labour should not be in power after this election.
Labour has been plunged into a cash-for-access row after three former Cabinet Ministers were secretly filmed discussing how they could help a fake lobbying company.
Geoff Hoon, Patricia Hewitt and Stephen Byers were all caught on camera discussing ‘job offers’ from a bogus firm set up for a sting operation by Channel 4.
A fourth Labour MP, Margaret Moran, is thought to have offered to ‘influence legislation’.
Taken in: Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt (both above), Margaret Moran and Geoff Hoon (below) were all secretly filmed giving interviews to the phoney lobbying firm
Mr Byers, the former Transport Secretary, admitted yesterday that he had exaggerated his political influence during his interview.
Labour immediately launched a damage-limitation exercise, with party sources stressing that the MPs, who are all leaving the Commons at the next election, were ‘mortified by how stupid they have been’ and insisting that ‘firm action’ would be taken if there was any evidence of wrongdoing.
The row comes as The Mail on Sunday discloses today that the chief executive of a South Korean oil firm which secretly paid Tony Blair undisclosed sums of money for his services has served a two-year prison sentence for bribery.
Kyu-Sun Choi was convicted in 2003 of making illegal payments to influence the awarding of a national lottery contract.
Aides to Gordon Brown say they are most concerned by Ms Moran’s interview in the Dispatches programme, due to be broadcast tomorrow.
They have been warned that she can be heard promising to help modify laws on immigration in order to boost the business interests of the fake company.
One senior Labour source said last night that Ms Moran was ‘not very well’ and anything she said should ‘not be taken seriously… the idea that she has the ability to influence anything is laughable’.
In total, it is believed that more than 20 politicians, including peers, were approached by the fake lobbying company, Anderson Perry Associates – in fact a front operation registered to the house of a Channel 4 producer.
Stephen Byers: I made some exaggerated claims
Although its website described it as ‘a bespoke consultancy that helps organisations and individuals maximise and exceed expectation’, The Mail on Sunday last week revealed how its London offices were hired by the hour, and the phone number for its California branch was bought from a ‘call-forwarding’ service, which diverted enquiries back to Britain.
MPs were met by a young female ‘lobbyist’, calling herself Claire Webster, who drew them into discussions about the work they could do for Anderson Perry.
Neither Mr Hoon, a former Defence Secretary who served in the Cabinet for ten years until resigning last June, nor former Health Secretary Ms Hewitt, who spent six years in the Cabinet, would reveal what they had discussed in front of the hidden cameras.
In January, Mr Hoon and Ms Hewitt mounted a botched coup against the Prime Minister by calling for a vote of no confidence. The attempted putsch fizzled out when it failed to attract the public support of senior Ministers or more than a handful of backbenchers.
At least one other Conservative backbencher is thought to have been filmed discussing business opportunities, with a third MP said to have sent a ‘slightly embarrassing’ email to the producers.
‘If you were to draw up a list of MPs able to influence power on a company’s behalf, Margaret Moran would be right at the bottom’
Friends of Mr Byers say he has admitted boasting to the fake lobbyist about ‘the things he has done and the influence he still wields’.
After a day’s reflection, he grew suspicious that he had been part of a set-up and emailed Anderson Perry to say he had had second thoughts about becoming involved.
In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Mr Byers said: ‘I attended an informal meeting to discuss a potential job opportunity. During the course of a casual conversation I made some exaggerated claims.
‘Having reflected on my comments, I knew that I should immediately put the record straight. I did so the following morning by making it clear that I have never lobbied Ministers on behalf of commercial interests.
‘I later withdrew my name from consideration. I have always fully disclosed my outside interests. The set-up was a massive deception, which the Tory Party described last weekend as entrapment.’
Backbencher Ms Moran was embroiled in last year’s parliamentary expenses scandal when it was revealed that she had claimed £22,500 from the taxpayer to treat dry rot in a house in Southampton – 100 miles from her Luton South constituency.
As a result, it was announced that she will stand down at the next election, and a formal party investigation into her conduct is ongoing.
A Labour source said last night: ‘Those MPs who are involved in this are mortified by how stupid they have been. There is no suggestion that they have broken the rules in any way, and they would rebut any such suggestion.
‘Some of them had second thoughts after leaving the interviews, and contacted the company to say that they would not be working for them.
‘If any wrongdoing is proved to have occurred, then we will not hesitate to take firm action.’
A second source added: ‘Moran has been very unwell with stress, and so should not be given any credibility. If you were to draw up a list of MPs able to influence power on a company’s behalf, she would be right at the bottom.’
A spokesman for Channel 4 said the channel would not be disclosing any details of its investigation ahead of tomorrow’s broadcast.
Mr Hoon, Ms Hewitt and Ms Moran were not available for comment.
Became suspicious: Tory MP Julie Kirkbride
…and how the Tories rumbled the sting
The Conservatives are congratulating themselves on a lucky escape over the lobbygate ‘sting’.
The alarm was raised by one of their retiring MPs, Julie Kirkbride, after she accepted an invitation to attend a meeting at the offices of Anderson Perry Associates, in London’s St James’s, earlier this year.
Over a cup of coffee, she was told by the fake lobbyist – a woman in her late 20s calling herself Claire Webster – that the company was an American operation looking to open a branch in the UK.
She says she was offered an annual salary of £35,000 for just a few days’ work a year if she agreed to use her influence with any David Cameron Government to help develop the business of one of the company’s main clients, a ‘large pharmaceutical company’.
The woman told Ms Kirkbride that the company was hoping to assemble an advisory panel of former parliamentarians to ‘front up their lobbying team’ and offer advice to the firm.
But Ms Kirkbride grew suspicious after she says she was asked: ‘Would you be able to ring up your mates in the party for us?’
She said: ‘The girl didn’t look like the sort of person who would be setting up an office on her own. So I did the very British thing of swallowing hard, spluttering that it was not the done thing, and keeping up polite conversation.’
After Ms Kirkbride told party whips of the approach, Tory MPs were sent a warning about accepting any such invitations.
An investigation by The Mail on Sunday then discovered that despite Anderson Perry’s sophisticated website – which boasted of advising ‘more than 120 clients in Europe, the Middle East and United States’ – the company was registered to the small terrace house of Jessica Goodman, a Channel 4 producer who previously worked on Rory Bremner’s satirical programmes.
Posted on March 20, 2010, in crime, dirty robbing bastards, English, expenses, gordon brown, government, Labour, parliament, politics, twat of the week, vote and tagged English, expenses, government, Labour, parliament. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.