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."
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