Conservative MP Patrick Mercer has been accused of breaking parliamentary rules by offering to provide a Commons pass for lobbyists and tabling parliamentary questions in return for money.
Secret filming by BBC Panorama and The Telegraph appears to show Mercer agreeing to table parliamentary questions after being paid by a fake lobbying firm. The questions were drafted by undercover reporters purporting to be lobbyists for businesses with interests in Fiji, the Telegraph alleges.
Mr Mercer is also captured on camera agreeing to approve a parliamentary pass for a "representative" for the fake firm. He said:
"I do not charge a great deal of money for these things. I would normally come out at £500 per half day, so £1,000 a day."
Parliamentary rules ban MPs from undertaking "paid advocacy" on behalf of paying clients. Mr Mercer said he is taking legal advice on the allegations.
BBC's Panorama show said they have been investigating lobbying and conduct of MPs and members of the House of Lords and sought a response from "a number of people including Mr Mercer." In a statement the broadcaster said:
BBC Panorama has been investigating lobbying and the conduct of MPs and members of the House of Lords.
The programme is still being made and will be broadcast as soon as possible. The investigation has raised a number of issues related to those involved. Panorama has sought responses from a number of people including Mr Mercer.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer is no fan of David Cameron. News that he was about to resign the Conservative Party whip triggered speculation he was about to join UKIP. Or that he was about to say Cameron should be challenged for the leadership.
However, the decision was prompted by a newspaper story which was due out tomorrow. He is facing allegations over lobbying and failing to register his activities.
Mr Mercer says he has referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. He has also decided not to stand as the MP for Newark at the next election.
Mercer was forced to leave the Shadow front bench in 2007 when he said it was acceptable to refer to ethnic minority soldiers as "black b*****ds."
Downing Street says the Prime minister is aware. But he won't be choking on his Spanish cornflakes on his Ibiza holiday that this particular MP has left the family.
A Conservative Party spokesman said David Cameron is aware of Patrick Mercer's resignation and thinks he has "done the right thing" in referring himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over allegations that he broke Parliamentary rules. A spokesman said:
The PM is aware. He 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.
Conservative MP Patrick Mercer has announced he is retiring the party whip and will not stand in the next election. In a statement he said he was taking advice over allegations that he has broke Parliamentary rules.
Panorama are planning to broadcast a programme alleging that I have broken Parliamentary rules. 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.
Conservative MP Patrick Mercer has resigned the Tory whip following a confrontation with The Daily Telegraph, the newspaper alleges.
The Telegraph say they have been investigating the former shadow minister over "major lobbying" claims.
Conservative MP Patrick Mercer has announced he is resigning the Conservative whip.
Mr Mercer told The Times he did not plan to join UKIP or any other party, and would stand down at the next election, but declined to give a reason for his decision.