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Another Conservative bites the dust

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Another Conservative bites the dust

Post  Panda on Fri 31 May - 22:17

Exposed: deal that sank cash for questions MP Mercer


A senior Conservative MP is today exposed for abusing his position by
tabling parliamentary questions and motions — and offering lobbyists a security
pass for the House of Commons — after being paid thousands of pounds.









Patrick Mercer MP meets BBC
Panorama undercover
reporter





By Claire Newell, Holly Watt and Daniel
Foggo

9:06PM BST 31 May 2013




An undercover investigation conducted by The 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 as part of a contract he believed would earn him £24,000 a
year.


The parliamentary questions were all drafted by undercover reporters
purporting to be lobbyists for businesses with interests in Fiji.


The Conservative MP also established an all-party parliamentary group in
support of the cause being promoted by the lobbyists, which boasted he had
persuaded around 20 other politicians to publicly back.


As part of his £2,000-a-month consultancy fee, he 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.”



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Mr Mercer, who was once sacked from the front bench after making remarks
about ethnic minority soldiers, was also filmed making a racist remark to the
undercover reporter.

Mr Mercer resigned from the Conservative Party yesterday and referred himself
to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after being told he was to be
exposed by the joint Telegraph and BBC investigation.

Parliamentary rules explicitly ban MPs from undertaking “paid advocacy” on
behalf of paying clients. Mr Mercer may also now be investigated by the police
over potential offences of bribery and misconduct in a public office.

Alistair Graham, the former Commissioner for Standards, said that Mr Mercer’s
actions were “totally unacceptable”.

“It brings us back to 'cash for questions’ in the Nineties and is deeply
depressing. It’s parliamentary prostitution – whatever the client wants, the
client appears to get,” he said.

The scandal also highlights David Cameron’s failure to bring in promised new
laws to allow disgraced MPs to be expelled from Parliament and to regulate
political lobbying.

In 2010 Mr Cameron stated that lobbying was “the next big scandal waiting to
happen”, yet an initial proposal to introduce a register of lobbyists has been
absent from the Queen’s Speech for two years running.

Mr Mercer signed a contract with the bogus lobbying firm and has been paid
£4,000 for his services – which he has yet to declare publicly.

After receiving his first payment, Mr Mercer was secretly recorded boasting:
“I will put a handful of parliamentary [questions], of PQs about it [the issue
raised by the lobbyists] surrounding it so I will put half a dozen in”.

He explained that this approach would be advantageous to his clients. He said
it was “all a question of levering information out of them [the Government]”.


Earlier this year, The Daily Telegraph and Panorama set up a bogus lobbying
company to investigate the secretive culture of MPs offering themselves as
consultants to those with commercial interests. Specific Parliamentarians were
identified as allegedly using their position in Parliament to benefit paying
clients — and senior political insiders had expressed concerns that specific MPs
and Peers were prepared to break the a month. On March 20, an undercover
reporter provided Mr Mercer with the wording of the proposed parliamentary
motion.

On March 26, Mr Mercer submitted an early day motion with almost identical
wording. He did not declare his financial interest. Four other MPs have since
signed the motion. There is no suggestion the other MPs knew Mr Mercer was being
paid by the client or that they behaved improperly.

In April, the reporter told Mr Mercer he was “brilliantly earning your money,
which … will go through today”. Mr Mercer responded by giving a thumbs up sign.


He said it was proving easy to recruit MPs. He said: “I mean who doesn’t want
a trip to Fiji?” The undercover reporter also asked the MP if he could submit a
question to ministers on behalf of the client. After examining the draft, Mr
Mercer suggested putting in a “handful”.

He had five questions tabled. Again he did not declare his financial
interest.

Mr Mercer has apparently failed to register his relationship with the firm,
despite signing a contract in March and receiving £4,000. The Conservative MP
has declined to answer a series of questions relating to his conduct.

But he is understood to be privately claiming he believes the re-entry of
Fiji to the Commonwealth to be a worthwhile cause and said during one meeting
that he had an interest in the sugar industry through his constituency.

In a statement, Mr Mercer said: “I am taking legal advice about these
allegations – and I have referred myself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for
Standards. In the meantime, to save my party embarrassment, I have resigned the
Conservative whip and have so informed Sir George Young. I have also decided not
to stand at the next general election.”

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said: “The Prime Minister thinks
Patrick Mercer has done the right thing in referring himself to the
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and resigning the whip. It’s important
that the due processes take their course.”

A Panorama special will air on Thursday at 9pm.

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Re: Another Conservative bites the dust

Post  Panda on Fri 31 May - 22:23

“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.”
A £1,000 a day??? Greedy bl***y Politicians . !!!

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