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MP accused of tabling questions for fake lobbying firm

Patrick Mercer MP filmed by BBC Panorama
Patrick Mercer MP filmed by BBC Panorama Credit: BBC Panorama/The Telegraph

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.

Read: Patrick Mercer 'taking legal advice over allegations'

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Tory MP in spotlight is no fan of David Cameron

by - Deputy Political Editor

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.

Patrick Mercer MP
Patrick Mercer MP has referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Credit: Press Assocation

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.

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Panorama investigating lobbying and MP conduct

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.

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Cameron 'thinks Mercer has done the right thing'

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.

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Trust is 'fully committed' to Newark Hospital

NHS Nottinghamshire County says it is 'fully committed to the future of Newark Hospital'. The future of healthcare services at the hospital was debated in the commons last night, after the trust which runs it announced planned changes.

MP Patrick Mercer claims that with a growing population and the planned closure of the ambulance station, there's a risk that services for local patients will suffer. But hospital bosses insist the quality of services will not be affected by the planned changes.

Newark and Sherwood CCG has consistently endorsed its commitment to a vibrant and sustainable future for Newark Hospital at the heart of the community it serves. The Board is fully committed to the future of Newark Hospital but will not compromise on the quality and safety of the services it provides.

– Dr Amanda Sullivan, Newark and Sherwood Clinical Commissioning Group.
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