The “cash for access” scandal is back again… starring Labour party’s Jack Straw and the Conservatives’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
The two former foreign secretaries allegedly said they can provide political influence to a fake Chinese company that journalists set up as part of a sting operation.
Carried out by the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 Dispatches, the undercover investigation recorded Straw saying he operated “under the radar” to influence European rules.
Straw is filmed saying, “So normally, if I’m doing a speech or something, it’s £5,000 a day, that’s what I charge.”
Sir Malcolm, chairman of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, was filmed saying he could provide “useful access” to British ambassadors by writing letters to ministers.
“You’d be surprised by how much free time I have. I’m self-employed so nobody pays me a salary. I have to earn my income,” Sir Malcolm said. However, Rifkind draws an annual salary of £67,000 as MP.
Straw and Sir Malcolm have both referred themselves to Parliament’s commissioner for standards and have been suspended from their parties.
Journalists leading the undercover operation contacted 12 MPs out of which six did not respond and one said his contacts aren’t for sale.
Channel 4 said in a statemement: “Not all politicians are for hire.
“Half of those approached didn’t respond. One said he wanted to check us out in Hong Kong so we took it no further. And another said he just wasn’t that interested. Of the others, two stood out – Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw.”
About the fictitious company
PMR, a communications agency based in Hong Kong was set up, backed by a fictitious Chinese businessman. PMR has plenty of money to spend and wants to hire influential British politicians to join its advisory board and get a foothold in the UK and Europe.
12 MPs who already had significant outside interests were invited to apply for jobs with PMR.
Not all politicians are for hire. Half of those approached didn’t respond. One said he wanted to check us out in Hong Kong so we took it no further. And another said he just wasn’t that interested. Of the others, two stood out – Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw.