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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.
A spokeswoman for the Standards Commissioner Kathryn Hudson, has said she "would consider the case for investigating Tory MP Patrick Mercer within a working week".
Mercer today announced he was resigning the party whip amid media reports that he broke Parliamentary rules while lobbying for Fiji.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer "should be held to account by his constituents" over allegations that he broke Parliamentary rules, TaxPayers' Alliance chief executive Matthew Sinclair has said:
Tory MP Patrick Mercer will remain in the Commons as an Independent MP, despite resigning the party whip over allegations that he broke Parliamentary rules.
The former Conservative whip Patrick Mercer is alleged to have been involved in lobbying on behalf of Fiji, according to an investigation by the Telegraph and BBC Panorama.
Councillors in Patrick Mercer's constituency of Newark, where he has a 16,000 majority, have expressed their shock at the news of his resignation.
Councillor Peter Duncan said he always thought of Mr Mercer as "a very solid citizen".
He added: "If this news is true then I am shocked. I thought he was a very strong individual with a strong point of view. He will be missed."
Another Tory councillor Derek Evans said: "I'm very surprised at the news. I've a lot of trust and faith in Patrick. I have utter faith in him as an MP."
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:
Latest ITV News reports
Conservative MP Patrick Mercer has been accused of breaking parliamentary rules by offering to provide a Commons pass for lobbyists.
The Conservative MP, who is alleged to have lobbied on behalf of Fiji, posed several questions about the country to Parliament this year.