The Conservative MP who scrutinises energy policy has been filmed boasting that he can be paid to introduce businessman to members of the Government.
Tim Yeo, the chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, also said he had coached John Smith, managing director of GB Railfreight, before the executive gave evidence to the committee last month. Yeo is a paid director and shareholder of Eurotunnel – the firm’s parent company.
Mr Yeo was filmed by undercover reporters working for The Sunday Times saying: “I told him [Mr Smith] in advance what to say. Ha-ha.”
When asked if he would be interested in a £7,000-a-day consultancy contract with a solar company, the MP said: “If you want to meet the right people, I can facilitate all those introductions and I use the knowledge I get from what is quite an active network of connections.”
The reporters queried if this included Government figures. Mr Yeo replied “Yes”.
The House of Commons’ code of conduct forbids MPs from acting as paid advocates, including by lobbying ministers.
Mr Yeo is the latest in a series of politicians to have become embroiled in the lobbying scandal sweeping through Westminster. Patrick Mercer MP resigned the Tory whip after he offered to help Fiji return to the Commonwealth in a joint investigation by The Daily Telegraph and the BBC’s Panorama programme.
The Lords authorities have launched an investigation into Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, Lord Cunningham and Lord Laird following similar undercover investigations. All three peers deny wrongdoing.
Mr Yeo denied “absolutely” that he had breached the MPs’ code of conduct and said he made no firm commitment to work for the reporters posing as lobbyists.
He denied offering to provide parliamentary advice or advocacy, which he said were roles he had never performed for any company, because he said that would be a breach of the code. No tutoring of Mr Smith had ever taken place by him, he said.
He added that he intended to reject the offer of work from the undercover journalists as he suspected it amounted to an “impermissable lobbying role”.
A spokesman for GB Railfreight said that at the energy and climate change committee hearing in question the company had “made the same arguments that we consistently make in submissions, articles and on the record time and again.”
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