Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind did not break rules in 'cash for access' undercover sting, watchdog says

Jack Straw (left) and Sir Malcolm Rifkind Credit: PA

The parliamentary standards watchdog has found "there was no breach of the rules on paid lobbying" by former foreign secretaries Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw after an investigation into cash-for-access allegations following a sting by undercover reporters.

ITV News deputy political editor Chris Ship reports:

Kathryn Hudson, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, found that neither was in breach of the code of conduct or the rules of the House "other than in Mr Straw's case - by a minor misuse of parliamentary resources".

Mr Straw said: "I am naturally delighted that the independent Commons' standards commissioner has cleared me of all wrongdoing."

Mr Straw said he regretted "ever having fallen into the trap" and had made serious efforts to check on the bogus company before the meeting "but these checks were not enough to expose what was a deliberate and meticulously planned deception".

He added: "At the time of this sting I said that I felt mortified that I had fallen into this trap but that I had not acted improperly in the meetings, nor more widely in respect of my Parliamentary duties and the rules of the House."

Jack Straw in the undercover footage Credit: Channel 4/Telegraph

I have been fully vindicated in this. The commissioner's report gives the full context of what happened, which was not available to the public at the time.

Jack Straw
Sir Malcolm Rifkind

Sir Malcolm, who stepped aside as chair of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee and stood down at the election following the claims, said the months after the sting had been a "painful period" for him and his family.

He thanked the watchdog for their investigation and their conclusion that "these allegations had no substance and were unjustified."

Channel 4 Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph must recognise the judgment of the Standards Commissioner and the Standards Committee that they were responsible for 'distortion' and for misleading the public in making these allegations. It has been for me, for my family and for my former parliamentary staff a painful period which we can now put behind us.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind

Responding to the watchdog's ruling, Channel 4 said: “Dispatches stands by its journalism; this was a fair and accurate account of what the two MPs said. This investigation was in the public interest and revealed matters which were of serious public concern.”