23 February 2015
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former foreign [and ‘defence’] secretary, describes his ‘useful access’ to official contacts during a meeting with undercover reporters for The Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches
A former Conservative minister tells undercover reporters that he can speak to ambassadors on behalf of a company paying him thousands of pounds.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former foreign secretary, tells undercover reporters working for The Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches that he can see any ambassador he wishes to see.
He says his position means that ambassadors are willing to see him personally.
“That provides access in a way that is useful,” he says.
Sir Malcolm has been suspended from the Conservative Party after the Telegraph revealed he told the undercover reporters that he would submit questions to ministers on behalf of a paying client, without revealing their identity.
The MP for Kensington also described himself as “self-employed”, saying he had to “earn my income” — despite being paid £67,000 by the taxpayer for his work as an MP.
From the BBC:
24 February 2015
Last updated at 11:12 GMT
Sir Malcolm Rifkind steps down as security committee chairman and as an MP
The former foreign secretary is also standing down as a Conservative MP.
Sir Malcolm denies any wrongdoing after being secretly recorded apparently offering his services to a private firm for cash. …
‘Lack of support’
Sir Malcolm, the Conservative MP for Kensington and Chelsea, had previously said he would not stand down as security committee chairman, unless his colleagues wanted him to.
BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said he would have “picked up on the murmurings” about his ability to carry on as chairman and been “acutely aware of the lack of support” from Downing Street.
In a statement issued on Tuesday morning, he said while he would remain a member of the committee, he would step down from the chairmanship.
The committee is due to publish a report next month looking at surveillance by the intelligence agencies, and Sir Malcolm said he had decided “it is better that this important work should be presided over by a new chairman”.
The committee is currently holding a meeting where a replacement chairman is likely to be chosen.
Sir Malcolm’s predecessor, ex-Labour MP Kim Howells, had increased pressure on him by warning that the committee’s work must not be “dragged down”.
Reacting to Sir Malcolm’s decision to step down, Mr Howells told Sky News he had “done the right thing”.
During conservations with the undercover reporters, who posed as representatives of a fictitious Chinese company, Sir Malcolm had described himself as “self-employed”, saying “nobody pays me a salary”.
Reacting to the story in the Daily Telegraph, he questioned whether an MP’s £67,000 salary was enough to attract people from a “business or professional background”.
Announcing his decision to leave Parliament after May’s general election, Sir Malcolm said the allegations against him were “contemptible” and that he had previously planned to seek one further term as an MP.
“I have concluded that to end the uncertainty it would be preferable, instead, to step down at the end of this Parliament,” he said.
Two former UK government ministers—Labour MP Jack Straw and Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind—have been exposed in a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary as ready to accept thousands of pounds from a private company in return for access to their political and business contacts: here.