Tory MP quits over 'cash for questions' TV sting
A BRITISH Conservative MP has been exposed for abusing his position by tabling parliamentary questions and motions – and agreeing to provide lobbyists with a security pass for the House of Commons – after being paid thousands of pounds.
An undercover investigation by the 'Daily Telegraph' and the BBC's Panorama programme discloses that Patrick Mercer, a former shadow minister, tabled five questions to government ministers and put down a parliamentary motion after being paid £4,000 (€4,600) as part of a contract he believed would earn him £24,000 (€28,000) a year.
The parliamentary questions were all drafted by undercover reporters purporting to be lobbyists for businesses with interests in Fiji. The MP also established an all-party parliamentary group in support of the cause being promoted by the lobbyists, which he boasted he had persuaded around 20 other politicians to back publicly. Mr Mercer, who signed a contract for £2,000 (€2,300) a month, also agreed to provide a parliamentary pass for a "representative" of the fictional Fijian client.
"I do not charge a great deal of money for these things," Mr Mercer said during a meeting to arrange his "consultancy" fee. "I would normally come out at £500 per half day. So £1,000 a day."
He resigned from the Conservative Party yesterday and referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after being told he was to be exposed.
Parliamentary rules ban MPs from undertaking "paid advocacy" on behalf of paying clients.
He may also be investigated by the police over potential offences of bribery and misconduct in a public office. (© Daily Telegraph, London)