Energy and Climate Committee chairman Tim Yeo has denied breaching lobbying rules amid allegations that he used his position to help business clients, after a sting by Sunday Times journalists. Mr Yeo said:
I want to make clear that I totally reject these allegations.
The Sunday Times has chosen to quote very selectively from a recording obtained clandestinely during a conversation of nearly an hour and a half in a restaurant with two undercover reporters who purported to be representing a client from South Korea.
My lawyer requested the whole recording from which these extracts were obtained but this has not been given.
The whole recording would show the context of the conversation and demonstrate clearly that at no stage did I agree or offer to work for the fictitious company these undercover reporters claimed to be representing, still less did I commit to doing so for a day a month as the article claims.
Tim Yeo has formally stood aside as chairman of an influential House of Commons committee after claims that he used his position to help business clients.
Members on the Energy and Climate Change Committee unanimously accepted the Conservative MP's offer to step down temporarily while the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner carries out an inquiry.
After meeting fellow committee members behind closed doors at the House of Commons, Mr Yeo left before the meeting moved into open session.
Mr Yeo said: "They have unanimously accepted my offer to stand aside for the duration of the inquiry."
The former minister said in a statement last night that he took the decision to ensure the "smooth running" of the committee, and insisted he had not breached Commons rules when he spoke to undercover reporters from the Sunday Times.
Conservative MP Tim Yeo is foregoing his select committee chair's salary - worth £14,728 a year - after stepping down from the role while he awaits the conclusion of the Standards Commissioner's inquiry.
South Suffolk Conservative MP Tim Yeo has formally stepped aside as chairman of an influential Commons committee while he faces investigation into claims that he used his position to help business clients.
Members on the Energy and Climate Change Committee unanimously accepted his offer to step down temporarily while the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner carries out his inquiry.
Shadow cabinet office minister Gareth Thomas said it was "difficult to see how he can continue" while he was under investigation.
The political blogger Paul Staines, who runs the Guido Fawkes website, has also reported the MP to the Metropolitan Police and asked them to investigate.
Mr Yeo is under fire after an undercover Sunday Times investigation appeared to show him claiming he could exert influence behind the scenes for private companies.
Earlier, in an interview on BBC Radio Wales he insisted he would not quit the committee chairmanship while the allegations were investigated.
The newspaper's footage showed Mr Yeo seemingly suggesting that he had coached a client, John Smith, managing director of GB Rail Freight, on how to influence the committee - a meeting at which he excused himself asking questions because of the conflict of interest.
"I was able to tell him in advance what he should say," he said.
Mr Yeo told BBC Radio Wales: "What happened was I travelled with the person concerned in the company of two other people five days before his appearance before the committee in a train.
"During that conversation I spoke very briefly to him about his forthcoming appearance in front of the committee, so I could explain to him that because of the business connection between us - which, of course, was properly declared and registered - I wouldn't take part in questioning."
He added: "I did not do so, I did not coach John Smith as the paper alleges, he's not a paying client as the paper alleges, and like many business executives giving evidence to select committees, he actually sought advice from the public affairs company which his company retains for that purpose."
Mr Yeo referred himself to parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Hudson after the Sunday Times sting. Its reporters approached the MP posing as representatives of a solar energy company, offering to hire him at £7,000 a day to push for new laws to boost its business.
Tory MP Tim Yeo tonight announced he is to stand down as chairman of an influential Commons committee while he faces investigation into claims he used his position to help business clients.
The former minister said he would be advising members on the Energy and Climate Change Committee that he should temporarily stand aside while the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner carried out his inquiry.
He said in a statement that he was stepping down to ensure the "smooth running" of the committee, and insisted that he had not breached Commons rules when he spoke to undercover reporters from The Sunday Times.
"I have decided that at the private meeting of the Energy and Climate Change Committee to be held tomorrow morning.
"I will recommend to members of the committee that for the period until the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, to whom I have referred myself today, has completed her investigation I will temporarily stand aside from the chairmanship of the committee," he said.
"I am doing so solely to ensure the smooth running of the committee during the next few weeks. I firmly believe that I have not breached the MPs' Code of Conduct in any respect and therefore await the outcome of the commissioner's investigation with confidence.
"In particular I absolutely and unreservedly deny the allegation that I coached a witness with whom I have a business connection before that person gave evidence to the committee.
"I do not wish the Commissioner's investigation to be a distraction from the Committee's important work. I believe that during the past three years the committee has been extremely effective and I want this to continue."