Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Peers Investigated over Cash Clams; Suspended Pair Deny Breaking Parliament Rules

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Peers Investigated over Cash Clams; Suspended Pair Deny Breaking Parliament Rules

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE PROCTOR

TWO peers from the North East are being investigated over claims they offered to use their Parliamentary influence in exchange for cash.

Ex-cabinet minister Lord Cunningham of Felling and former Chief Superintendent of Durham Police, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, were recorded by reporters allegedly explaining how they could offer to ask questions and host networking receptions at the House of Lords for paying clients.

Both came out fighting yesterday, denying having breached Parliamentary rules.

But the Labour Party has suspended the pair while the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards carries out an investigation.

Film footage taken by Sunday Times journalists posing as lobbyists for a bogus South Korean solar energy firm reveals Jack Cunningham allegedly explaining how he could help push its agenda, in apparent breach of a ban on paid advocacy.

The former MP for Copeland in Cumbria who started his political career as a district councilor for Chester-le-Street is claimed to have told the journalists he would help them for a monthly fee of PS12,000.

He is also alleged to have said he would be able to introduce them to senior figures of all three parties as well as host networking receptions on the House of Lords terrace.

Former Chief Superintendent of Durham Police, Sir Brian Mackenzie, was recorded allegedly explaining he could get around a parliamentary rule banning the hosting of receptions if they had an interest in the matter by getting a colleague to take on the role as a favour.

The accusations came two days after MP Patrick Mercer quit the Tory whip and announced he would leave the Commons in 2015 over similar allegations.

The storm involving the North East peers has been described as a "new low for British politics" by a Labour shadow cabinet minister. …

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