Tory MP 'offered pass for cash'

Tory MP Patrick Mercer has been accused of breaking Parliamentary rules by tabling parliamentary questions for a fake lobby firm and offering a Commons pass in return for cash. Mercer said he was taking legal advice and will step down in 2015.

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MP accused of tabling questions for fake lobbying firm

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.

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Mercer 'should be held to account over allegations'

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:

Details of the precise allegations against Mr Mercer are yet to emerge, but Newark residents will be intrigued as to why their MP has resigned from his party but not from Parliament.

Mr Mercer's constituents should have the right to hold him to account for his actions if they feel he has let them down, but they cannot do so because the Government has failed to introduce the recall mechanism it promised in the Coalition Agreement.

Mercer 'to remain in Commons as Independent MP'

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.

In light of the allegations being made against him, Patrick has decided to resign the whip from the Conservative Party while a proper investigation is undertaken.

Until such time as the investigation is concluded, Patrick will be an Independent Member of Parliament and not subject to the rules of the local party.

Patrick has always been a dedicated, hard-working and popular local MP and we will be saddened if these allegations are proven.

Until such time as there has been a full and proper investigation, in line with British justice, we shall neither pre-judge nor pre-empt the outcome.

– Stuart Wallace, chairman of the Newark Conservative Association

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Councillor saw Patrick Mercer as a 'very solid citizen'

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."

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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