UUP peer quits over lobbying scandal
Lords claim innocence after newspaper sting
An Ulster Unionist peer embroiled in the British parliamentary lobbying scandal has resigned from his party.
Lord John Laird, pictured, quit the UUP after he offered to arrange for parliamentary questions to be asked in return for a fee of £2,000 (€2,300) a month.
During a joint investigation by 'The Daily Telegraph' and the BBC's 'Panorama' programme, the peer said he was prepared to help undercover reporters posing as lobbyists to set up a parliamentary group, "bribe" colleagues to ask questions and influence debates about Fiji on behalf of a client paying him a retainer.
Labour peers Brian Mackenzie and Jack Cunningham were suspended by their party yesterday after they were also recorded appearing to push the cause of a solar energy firm in Parliament.
Mr Laird (68) is no stranger to controversy or expressing forthright views. He condemned the Irish Republic as being "rife with religious bigotry, corruption and double-crossing politicians" but added: "It's a bloody good place to get pissed." (© Daily Telegraph, London)