Sir John Butterfill, Mr Stephen Byers, Ms Patricia Hewitt, Mr Geoff Hoon, Mr Richard Caborn and Mr Adam Ingram - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents


Appendix 1: Memorandum from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


Sir John Butterfill, Rt hon Stephen Byers, Rt hon Patricia Hewitt, Rt hon Geoff Hoon, Rt hon Richard Caborn and Rt hon Adam Ingram


Introduction

1. This memorandum reports on my inquiries into allegations made in March 2010 against six people who were then Members of Parliament in connection with meetings they had held with an undercover reporter who claimed to represent a United States communications company. The Members concerned were Sir John Butterfill, then the Member for Bournemouth West, who referred himself to me, and five others in respect of whom I received complaints: Rt Hon Stephen Byers, then the Member for North Tyneside, Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt, then the Member for Leicester West, Rt Hon Geoff Hoon, then the Member for Ashfield, Rt Hon Richard Caborn, then the Member for Sheffield Central and Rt Hon Adam Ingram, then the Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow. None of these Members contested the May 2010 General Election, so none of them is a Member of the current House.

Background

2. On 21 March 2010, the Sunday Times carried an article alleging that a joint investigation for that paper and Channel 4's Dispatches programme had secretly interviewed nine members of Parliament who were leaving the House at the General Election. The article said that they were told that a US communications company, Anderson Perry Associates, was forming an advisory board and was interested in whether they wished to sit on it.[1] In fact, the company did not exist, and the representative who conducted the interviews was an undercover reporter working for the Sunday Times and Dispatches.[2] The article featured comments by Mr Byers and Ms Hewitt, in particular, as to how they could use their experience of government to help the company's clients to lobby Ministers and officials, and according to the article both had expressed a willingness to work for the company. The article also said that Mr Hoon had indicated an interest in doing likewise, alleging that he said he wanted to translate his knowledge and contacts into cash.

3. The article alleged that Mr Byers had during the meeting said, "I'm a bit like a sort of cab for hire". The article said that Mr Byers had claimed that he had saved hundreds of millions of pounds for National Express through his contacts with Lord Adonis, the Transport Minister, and had delayed and amended food labelling proposals for Tesco after telephoning Lord Mandelson, then the Business Secretary. The article said that Mr Byers appeared keen to work for the fictitious company and was quick to flag up "his impeccable political connections". He was alleged to have told the reporter, "I still get a lot of confidential information because I'm still linked in to No 10".

4. Mr Byers was said in the article to have described himself as the "architect" of the Enterprise Act who could therefore offer help to any clients "operating a restrictive practice" or "price-fixing". He was quoted as saying, "That's an animal I created, for better or worse ... but you also know ways around it... well actually...there's an ace you can play here."

5. The article alleged that the next day Mr Byers sent the undercover reporter an e-mail effectively claiming that he had lied throughout the meeting. It quoted Mr Byers as saying in that e-mail, "In reality I have not been engaged in lobbying Ministers here in the UK. My statements yesterday would have given the opposite impression and I would like to take this opportunity to withdraw them."

6. Ms Hewitt was said in the article to charge £3,000 a day for a range of advice and services that included helping to influence legislation. She was alleged to have acknowledged that she could help the fictitious company's clients to influence legislation. "If you've got a client who needs a particular regulation removed, then we can often package that up [for a Minister]", she was quoted in the article as saying. The article also said that Ms Hewitt had listed five ways that a company could contact a Minister, namely by funding think tanks and seminars, hospitality, sponsoring events in party conferences, contacting special advisers and finding a connection with the Minister's constituency. Ms Hewitt was alleged to have spoken at length of her involvement with Partnerships in Care (PiC), a private mental health service provider owned by the private equity company Cinven. She was said in the article to have claimed that it was through her efforts that PiC was able to give evidence to Lord Bradley's study about providing care outside prison for criminals with mental health problems.

7. The article alleged that during the meeting Ms Hewitt also claimed she had "spoken to Ministers and civil servants" about changing a carbon reduction regulation that helped her client Cinven and other private equity companies.

8. The next day, 22 March, I received an e-mail from Mr Byers.[3] He asked me, in the light of media comments following his interview, to investigate his actions to confirm that he had "at all times complied with all the relevant provisions covering Members of Parliament." I replied the same day.[4] I said that, under the rules agreed by the House for complaints, I was expected to consult the Committee on Standards and Privileges when a Member had asked me to investigate an allegation against him when they are not the subject of a specific complaint. I pointed out that the rules stated that the Committee would expect to authorise such an inquiry only in exceptional circumstances, and invited Mr Byers to let me know later that day why in his view the circumstances justified an inquiry. I also said that I would consider any complaints I received against him in respect of this matter. Later that day, Mr Byers e-mailed me again.[5] He said that he had asked for an inquiry "because media reports have questioned whether I have complied with the rules of the House. I know that I have always complied but now need this to be independently confirmed ... Given the level of media interest and the serious allegations made against me, I believe that these are exceptional circumstances that merit an inquiry."

9. I also received an e-mail from Ms Hewitt on 22 March.[6] She said that, in the course of her discussion with the undercover journalist, she had referred to work she had done for two other companies, in both cases following approval by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. Both appointments had been declared in the Register (of Members' Financial Interests). Ms Hewitt said that, in this work she had "always been mindful of the provisions of the Code of Conduct for Members—for instance, by making clear my association with the firm in any conversation I have had with officials." She continued, "Nonetheless, the Sunday Times story carried the implication that I (and others) acted improperly and similar allegations have been made by others. I therefore want to refer myself to you and hope that the Committee will agree to allow you to investigate the matter." I replied to Ms Hewitt the same day, pointing out, as I had to Mr Byers, that the Committee would expect to authorise such an inquiry only in exceptional circumstances, and saying that I would also consider any complaints I received against her in respect of this matter.[7]

10. On the same day, 22 March, Ms Justine Greening, the Member for Putney, wrote to me to make formal complaints against Mr Byers, Mr Hoon and Ms Hewitt.[8] She said that the Sunday Times had reported that they had each been offering their parliamentary expertise to external commercial interests in exchange for financial rewards. In particular, Ms Greening said that Mr Byers had "described himself as a 'sort of cab for hire' for commercial enterprises, and claims to have influenced policy on behalf of several major firms, including National Express and Tesco". She said that Mr Hoon had "offered to allow companies to influence government policy by making use of his knowledge and position for 'something that frankly makes money'". She said that Ms Hewitt had "claimed that she had been appointed to a government advisory group on behalf of a client in which she had a financial interest." Ms Greening believed that there were "strong grounds" to state that Mr Byers, Mr Hoon and Ms Hewitt had compromised their public duties as members of the House and breached the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament. I decided to accept Ms Greening's complaint. I wrote to Mr Byers and Ms Hewitt on 23 March to inform them that I did not therefore need to conduct my inquiry on the basis of the self-referrals they had sent me.[9]

11. On the evening of 22 March, the Channel 4 Dispatches programme was broadcast. It included interviews with Mr Byers, Ms Hewitt and Mr Hoon, and also with other Members drawn from both Houses of Parliament.

12. One of those other Members, Sir John Butterfill, sent me an e-mail that same evening, 22 March.[10] Sir John said that he wished to clear his name completely, and that he was referring himself to me so that I might consider whether he had breached the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament.

13. Following receipt of Sir John's e-mail I submitted the matter to the 23 March meeting of the Committee on Standards and Privileges, which authorised me to undertake the inquiry. I considered that the allegations against Sir John were potentially serious and reflected on the reputation of the House. I wrote to Sir John on 23 March, and informed him that having consulted the Committee I had decided, exceptionally, to accept the self-referral he had made.[11]

14. On 28 March, Mr Greg Hands, the Member for Hammersmith and Fulham, wrote to me to make formal complaints against Rt Hon Richard Caborn and Rt Hon Adam Ingram.[12] He asked me to investigate allegations that had appeared that day in the Sunday Times[13] that both Members had been offering their parliamentary expertise to external commercial interests in exchange for financial rewards. In particular, Mr Hands alleged that Mr Ingram had "admitted that he had used his contacts and experience to help a construction company he worked for carry out a defence project in Libya" and, when asked about whether he could use his experience to develop relationships with Ministers and civil servants, Mr Ingram had allegedly said that he would "do that". Mr Hands alleged that Mr Caborn had said that he had "previously used his contacts and access to his clients' advantage".

15. The Sunday Times article of 28 March on which Mr Hands based his complaint against Mr Caborn and Mr Ingram said that its interviews with them were part of the same joint undercover investigation by the paper and Channel 4's Dispatches programme as had involved the Members already mentioned. The article alleged that Mr Caborn was interested in working for the company but would wait until after the Election before deciding whether to do so. It said that Mr Caborn had expressed hopes of receiving a peerage, which he considered would improve his access to people, reportedly commenting, "All this is all about contacts, it really is. It's not so much always about influencing, it's about getting information, and that's absolutely key because if you can get information that is very powerful." Mr Caborn had said that his fee would be similar to that for his other work at £2,500 a day, plus expenses, and that if he took the job he would be willing to build relations with Ministers whom he knew. The article alleged that Mr Ingram had offered to develop a network of former Ministers who could be useful for contacts in different Departments. It claimed that Mr Ingram had appeared keen for work, commenting, "I've got a breadth of experience, I think I've good knowledge, I've run big departments ... and I may be of use to you." The article said that Mr Ingram had made it clear that he would not lobby until after the Election, and would be happy to approach both Ministers and civil servants. He said his fee would be in a range up to £1,500 a day, plus VAT.

The Allegations

16. In essence, the allegations against the Members were that each of them had engaged in lobbying activities in a way which was contrary to the rules of the House; that their conduct during an interview with a person who subsequently revealed herself as a journalist had been contrary to the rules; that that conduct was not such as to maintain or strengthen the public's trust in the integrity of Parliament, and that it had brought the House of Commons into disrepute.

Relevant Rules of the House

17. Paragraph 1 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament describes the purpose of the Code as follows:

"The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to assist Members in the discharge of their obligations to the House, their constituents and the public at large by:

a) Providing guidance on the standards of conduct expected of Members in discharging their parliamentary and public duties, and in so doing

b) Providing the openness and accountability necessary to reinforce public confidence in the way in which Members perform those duties."

18. Paragraph 2 of the Code describes the scope of the Code as follows:

"The Code applies to Members in all aspects of their public life. It does not seek to regulate what Members do in their purely private and personal lives."

19. Paragraph 9 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament relates to the resolution of conflicts between the public interest and Members' personal interests, and provides as follows:

"Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest."

20. Paragraph 10 of the Code provides that "No Member shall act as a paid advocate in any proceeding of the House".

21. Paragraph 11 of the Code provides as follows:

"The acceptance by a Member of a bribe to influence his or her conduct as a Member, including any fee, compensation or reward in connection with the promotion of, or opposition to, any Bill, Motion, or other matter submitted, or intended to be submitted to the House, or to any Committee of the House, is contrary to the law of Parliament."

22. Paragraph 12 of the Code relates to activities with or on behalf of organisations with which Members have financial relationships. It provides:

"In any activities with, or on behalf of, an organisation with which a Member has a financial relationship, including activities which may not be a matter of public record such as informal meetings and functions, he or she must always bear in mind the need to be open and frank with Ministers, Members and officials."

23. Paragraph 13 of the Code relates to Members' use of information received in confidence in the course of their parliamentary duties. It provides:

"Members must bear in mind that information which they receive in confidence in the course of their parliamentary duties should be used only in connection with those duties, and that such information must never be used for the purpose of financial gain."

24. Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct relates to Members' use of House facilities. It provides:

"Members shall at all times ensure that their use of expenses, allowances, facilities and services provided from the public purse is strictly in accordance with the rules laid down on these matters, and that they observe any limits placed by the House on the use of such expenses, allowances, facilities and services."

25. Paragraph 15 of the Code relates to the impact of Members' conduct on public trust and confidence in Parliament as an institution. It provides:

"Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament and never undertake any action which would bring the House of Commons, or its Members generally, into disrepute."

26. In relation to the registration and declaration of interests by Members, paragraph 16 of the Code provides as follows:

"Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of Members' Interests and shall always draw attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its Committees, or in any communications with Ministers, Government Departments or Executive Agencies."

27. Registrable interests are defined in the Guide to the Rules in terms of Categories, and for the purpose of this inquiry, Category 2 is of particular relevance. It is defined as follows:

"Remunerated employment, office, profession, etc: Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation (apart from membership of the House or ministerial office) which is remunerated or in which the Member has any financial interest. Membership of Lloyd's should be registered under this Category."

28. The rules in relation to Category 2 which appear to be relevant to this inquiry are those set out in the Guide for 2005.[14] Paragraph 19 of that Guide stated:

"All employment outside the House and any sources of remuneration which do not fall clearly within any other Category should be registered here if the value of the remuneration exceeds 1 per cent of the current parliamentary salary. When registering employment, Members should not simply state the employer company and the nature of its business, but should also indicate the nature of the post which they hold in the company or the services for which the company remunerates them. Members who have paid posts as consultants or advisers should indicate the nature of the consultancy, for example 'management consultant', 'legal adviser', 'parliamentary and public affairs consultant'."

29. The Guide also set out, in paragraph 49 to 54 of that edition, the requirements where a Member has an agreement for the provision of services in his or her capacity as a Member of Parliament. It included above paragraph 49 the following, which is part of a Resolution of the House of 6 November 1995, amended on 14 May 2002:

"Any Member proposing to enter into an agreement which involves the provision of services in his capacity as a Member of Parliament shall conclude such an agreement only if it conforms to the Resolution of the House of 6th November 1995 relating to Conduct of Members; and a full copy of any such agreement including the fees or benefits payable in bands of: up to £5,000, £5,001-£10,000, and thereafter in bands of £5,000, shall be deposited with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards at the same time as it is registered in the Register of Members' Interests and made available for inspection and reproduction by the public."

30. Section 2 of the Guide dealt with the declaration of interests by Members. The 2005 Guide refers to a Resolution of the House on 22 May 1974. This provided as follows:

"In any debate or proceeding of the House or its Committees or transactions or communications which a Member may have with other Members or with Ministers or servants of the Crown, he shall disclose any relevant pecuniary interest or benefit of whatever nature, whether direct or indirect, that he may have had, may have or may be expecting to have."

31. Paragraph 55 of that Guide provided that:

"...The term 'servants of the Crown' should be interpreted as applying to the staff of executive agencies as well as to all staff employed in government departments."

32. The rule relating to the declaration of interests is broader in scope than the rule relating to registration. Paragraph 56 provided as follows:

"... As well as current interests, Members are required to declare both relevant past interests and relevant interests which they may be expecting to have. In practice only interests held in the recent past, i.e. those contained in the current printed edition of the Register,[15] need normally be considered for declaration. Expected future interests, on the other hand, may be more significant. Where, for example, a Member is debating legislation or making representations to a Minister on a matter from which he has a reasonable expectation of personal financial advantage, candour is essential. In deciding when a possible future benefit is sufficiently tangible to necessitate declaration, the key word in the rule which the Member must bear in mind is 'expecting'. Where a Member's plans or degree of involvement in a project have passed beyond vague hopes and aspirations and reached the stage where there is a reasonable expectation that a financial benefit will accrue, then a declaration explaining the situation should be made."[16]

33. Paragraph 57 provided as follows:

"It is the responsibility of the Member, having regard to the rules of the House, to judge whether a pecuniary interest is sufficiently relevant to a particular debate, proceeding, meeting or other activity to require a declaration. The basic test of relevance should be the same for declaration as it is for registration of an interest; namely, that a pecuniary interest should be declared if it might reasonably be thought by others to influence the speech, representation or communication in question. A declaration should be brief but should make specific reference to the nature of the Member's interest."

34. The rules of the House in relation to lobbying for reward or consideration are set out in Section 3 of the Guide. By a Resolution of the House of 15 July 1947, amended on 6 November 1995 and on 14 May 2002,[17] the House prohibited paid advocacy. Paragraph 72 of the 2005 Guide provided as follows:

"It is wholly incompatible with the rule that any Member should take payment for speaking in the House. Nor may a Member, for payment, vote, ask a Parliamentary Question, table a Motion, introduce a Bill or table or move an Amendment to a Motion or Bill or urge colleagues or Ministers to do so."

35. Paragraph 73 continued:

"The Resolution does not prevent a Member from holding a remunerated outside interest as a director, consultant, or adviser, or in any other capacity, whether or not such interests are related to membership of the House. Nor does it prevent a Member from being sponsored by a trade union or any other organisation, or holding any other registrable interest, or from receiving hospitality in the course of his or her parliamentary duties whether in the United Kingdom or abroad."

36. Paragraph 76 (1) of the 2005 Guide provided:

"When a Member is taking part in any parliamentary proceeding or making any approach to a Minister or servant of the Crown, advocacy is prohibited which seeks to confer benefit exclusively upon a body (or individual) outside Parliament, from which the Member has received, is receiving, or expects to receive a pecuniary benefit, or upon any registrable client of such a body (or individual). Otherwise a Member may speak freely on matters which relate to the affairs and interests of a body (or individual) from which he or she receives a pecuniary benefit, provided the benefit is properly registered and declared."

This rule was introduced in 2002 following a recommendation by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, who expressed concern that the rules "should not unnecessarily inhibit the ability of MPs to become well informed and to use their expertise and experience effectively."[18]

37. The rules on the use of the refreshment facilities of the House are relevant to two of my inquiries. Page 44 of the May 2008 edition of the Members' Handbook contained the following:

"Members of Parliament may entertain guests in most Refreshment Department venues, with the exception of the Members' Dining Room, Members' Tea Room and Members' Smoking Room."

38. Page 5 of the May 2010 edition of the Members' Handbook contains the following:

"The House provides various facilities and services to Members, the cost of which is either met in full or subsidised by public funds. These include, for example:

  • Accommodation, including offices and meeting rooms
  • Research support
  • ICT equipment and services
  • Catering facilities
  • Stationery.

These facilities and services are provided in order to assist Members in their parliamentary work. They should be used appropriately, in such a way as to ensure that the reputation of the House is not put at risk. They should not be used for party political campaigning or private business activity."

39. Paragraphs 4.1 to 4.3 of the House's terms and conditions for banqueting include the following requirements:

"4.1. The Sponsor is directly and personally responsible for the declaration of any relevant registered interest relating to their sponsorship of a function.

4.2. The Sponsor must complete the relevant section of the Private Dining Confirmation Form to indicate whether or not there is a relevant registered interest.

4.3. In the event that there is any relevant interest, invitations must clearly state 'relevant interest declared'."

40. Paragraph 1 of the Guidelines on the acceptance of appointments or employment outside Government by former Ministers of the Crown, produced by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, provides as follows:

"It is in the public interest that former Ministers with experience in government should be able to move into business or into other areas of public life. It is equally important that when a former Minister takes up a particular appointment there should be no cause for any suspicion of impropriety. Arrangements have been made therefore to enable former Ministers to seek advice from the independent and impartial Advisory Committee on Business Appointments."

My Inquiries

GENERAL ISSUES

41. After the transmission of the Dispatches programme on 22 March, I decided that it would be helpful to my inquiry also to have access to any unbroadcast material. Accordingly, on 23 March I contacted the company that had produced the programme and asked them to provide me with any unused interview material from the interviews which their reporter had conducted with Sir John, Mr Byers, Ms Hewitt and Mr Hoon.[19] I also asked for copies of any follow-up correspondence with each Member. On 31 March, I wrote again to the company to ask for similar material in respect of Mr Caborn and Mr Ingram.[20]

42. The production company provided me on 27 May with transcripts of the Members' preliminary telephone conversations with the undercover reporter, who had introduced herself as Claire Webster, and of the meetings themselves. The transcripts, originally prepared by professional transcribers, were certified by a solicitor as accurate, with certain caveats. The signed statement from the solicitors said that the solicitor had listened to the original covert recording once only and had then corrected the transcript to the best of their ability, given its quality. The solicitor had indicated where a word or words were inaudible and inserted a question mark where they were uncertain about a word or words. There was an additional caveat in relation to the transcript of Mr Caborn's meeting, which I refer to below.[21]

SIR JOHN BUTTERFILL: MY INQUIRIES

43. In my letter to Sir John Butterfill of 23 March,[22] I told Sir John that, having consulted the Committee on Standards and Privileges, I had decided exceptionally to accept the request he had made to me in his e-mail of 22 March[23] to inquire into allegations made against him arising from the article in the Sunday Times of 21 March[24] and Channel 4's Dispatches programme of 22 March. I asked Sir John to give me a full account of the circumstances in which he had come to be interviewed by someone who turned out to be a journalist.

44. I also asked Sir John to confirm whether, as reported, he had said that:

  • he would be happy to make introductions to Ministers on behalf of fee-paying clients and, if true, whether he had made such introductions at any time in the past;
  • in the past he had done quite a lot of consultancy work for people who wanted to get involved in the public sector and, if true, what that work had been, when he had undertaken it, and whether he had registered his consultancy work in the Register of Members' Financial Interests;
  • people had in the past come to him for advice on, for example, procurement issues and, if true, when that had happened, what advice he had given, what payment, if any, he had received from these people for this or other services and whether he had registered his services in the Register of Members' Financial Interests and made appropriate declarations;
  • Members of the House of Lords were very much involved in "procurement or in telecommunications or whatever it is you are looking at" and, if true, what Sir John had intended to imply by that statement in terms of his own employment by the client if he were to become a Member of the House of Lords;
  • he could organise a meeting with a Minister in their office or on a visit and, if true, when he had done so for a client who had paid him for his services and whether that service had been registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests and appropriate declarations made;
  • it would be "easy enough" to arrange a meeting with Conservative Ministers if there were to be a Conservative government and if there was something genuine to interest them—and "that depends on how I present things" and if true, what he had intended to convey to the interviewer in respect of the paid employment which he was discussing;
  • being in the House of Lords "gives me another string to my bow as far as you are concerned" and, if true, what he had meant to imply by saying that;
  • the going rate for the work he had believed he was discussing was £30,000 to £35,000 a year.

45. I also asked Sir John to confirm whether he had at any time been paid £30,000 to £35,000 a year for consultancy or other services and, if so, by whom and whether he had registered these payments; what subsequent communications he or his legal advisers had had with the reporters; whether, if any of the allegations were true, he had considered he had an obligation to make a Register entry or declaration, or both, in respect of any financial interest he had in these alleged activities; and if any of what Sir John had said was untrue, why he had spoken as he had done. Finally, I told Sir John that I was writing to the Channel 4 programme makers to invite them to let me have any unbroadcast parts of his interview.

46. Sir John replied on the following day, 24 March.[25] He said that he had been interviewed by the journalist following a telephone approach to his PA. This indicated that a company known as Anderson Perry, which claimed to be a major consultancy organisation in the US and which was seeking to expand its operations in the UK and Europe, was looking to form an advisory board with authoritative figures from the political, regulatory and diplomatic arenas. It was also apparently looking for consultants having intimate and expert knowledge of government affairs to be employed on a retainer basis. Sir John enclosed a copy of the e-mail that had been sent to him by the undercover reporter on 16 February[26], together with his reply of 17 February confirming his interview appointment on 24 February.[27] He said that he had also responded by telephone, during the course of which he had indicated that he might be interested in an appointment to their European advisory board but that he was not particularly interested in working in the field of government affairs on a retainer basis. He continued that they had discussed his business background and he had pointed out that he had in the past been active in Europe and a director of companies in France and Denmark, and that he spoke French, Danish and Spanish.

47. Sir John confirmed that the summary in my letter of the televised discussions was accurate, but commented that "the interview was heavily edited to exclude matters which would put these discussions in a different light." Sir John then set out a number of points that he said had been omitted. The first was the early discussion in the interview about his previous business career and the skills that he could bring to any directorship. The second was that, when he had been asked whether he would be prepared to organise any entertaining of Ministers or civil servants, Sir John said he had answered, "no, that would be improper and a breach of the rules". The third was, at the end of the interview, when Sir John said that he had indicated that he was unsure whether he would be willing to undertake work for Anderson Perry. He told me that he had said that "before making a decision, I would need to have a great deal more information about them, who their directors and shareholders were and whether they were of the highest integrity and standing. I indicated that this due diligence process might take some time, particularly since I had been previously approached by American interests and following investigations found out that they were not people I wished to be involved with."

48. Sir John confirmed that he had said that once he was no longer a Member of Parliament, he would be free to make introductions to Ministers on behalf of clients. He added that he had never in the past made such introductions. Sir John said that the work he had done in the past was entirely unremunerated and related to representations made to him by constituency companies, many of whom were involved in Government in diverse ways, notably in the fields of insurance, financial services and manufacturing. He said that for example, Cobham (formerly Flight Refuelling) who employed a very large number of his constituents , had sought his support and that of other neighbouring MPs. He said that he had never received payment or any other form of remuneration and therefore that registration in the Register of Members' Financial Interests was not appropriate.

49. Sir John said that his comment regarding the House of Lords "was a rather stupid one since I completely overlooked the fact that, if I were to become a Member of the House of Lords, I would be governed by similar rules to those which apply in the House of Commons." He confirmed that he had said he could probably organise meetings with Ministers on a paid basis in the future when he was no longer a Member, but commented that he had never done so in the past. Sir John also confirmed that he had said that it would be easy enough to arrange a meeting with Ministers if there were a Conservative Government and if there was something genuine to interest them. He commented, "By this I implied that the matter would be something which the Minister might find helpful and possibly create a situation where valuable business could accrue to UK Plc." He added that the phrase "that depends on how I present things" "was intended to imply that I would be competent in any initial representation that I made." He also said that the phrase "gives me another string to my bow so far as I am concerned" had been "intended to imply that potential clients would be likely to look favourably on having a Member of the House of Lords on the advisory board."

50. Sir John also confirmed that he had said that the going rate for the work they were discussing as a director of an advisory board was in the region of £30-35,000 a year, and that he had never at any time been paid £30-35,000 a year for consultancies or other services. He said that he had in the past acted as an adviser to trade associations, which he listed.[28] Sir John commented, "Each of these was remunerated and duly registered in the Register of Members' Interests. At no time did I specifically lobby for these Associations but was scrupulous to ensure that, if any specific matters arose which were relevant to these bodies, then I would declare it. I did not engage in advocacy for them." He added that none of his other business appointments were in any way related to membership of the House of Commons.

51. Sir John said that he had not had any contacts with the reporters since the Dispatches programme was broadcast.

52. Sir John said that he did not have to consider whether he had an obligation to make a Register entry or declaration relating to his contacts with Anderson Perry, given that he had definitely not decided to take up an appointment with Anderson Perry nor had they made any offer. He added, "I had considerable reservations about them."

53. In conclusion, Sir John commented, "None of what I said was untrue but perhaps foolish and slightly exaggerated in parts."

54. I replied to Sir John on 25 March.[29] I asked him if he could confirm that the consultancy work he had done in the past had been related only to companies based in his constituency, and if he had any further examples in addition to Cobham. I also asked if he could clarify his reference to the companies being involved in government in diverse ways. I also said that I thought that the broadcast quotation about being in the House of Lords was "gives me another string to my bow so far as you are concerned", was not quite the same as the version Sir John had in his letter,[30] and invited Sir John to let me know if he thought I had misheard. Finally, I asked Sir John for details of any contacts he had had with the reporters or programme makers since the interview on 24 February, with copies of any correspondence.

55. Sir John replied on 6 April.[31] He said that his past unpaid work was related only to companies based in his constituency or employing large numbers of his constituents, such as Liverpool Victoria, Portman Building Society, Lloyds TSB, Abbey Life etc. He said that all of these would contact him from time to time on a wide variety of issues to raise with the Government, such as taxation, regulatory matters etc. He said that he was not entirely sure of the precise wording of the quotation about being in the House of Lords, but it "was intended to convey that I would be more valuable to them by virtue of being seen to be rather more prestigious in dealings with their clients." Finally, Sir John said that he had not had any contact with the reporters or programme makers since the interview, other than by sending the programme makers, in response to a letter from them, a short e-mail in which he set out a statement he wished to be included in the programme. Sir John's statement read: "I have never knowingly breached the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament, nor would I seek to do so. I have never carried out consultancy work for people seeking Government contracts." Sir John said he also spoke on the telephone to the Sunday Times reporter before the article was published in that newspaper.

56. I did not continue my inquiries during the Dissolution of the House. Once the new Parliament had assembled on 18 May, I resumed my inquiry. On 27 May I received from legal representatives of the TV production company the certified transcripts of Sir John's conversations with the undercover reporter. I wrote to Sir John on 2 June, attaching a copy of the transcripts.[32] I said that the transcript of his phone conversation with the reporter did not appear to cover some of the points which he had made in his letter to me of 24 March—in particular, the claim that he was not particularly interested in the field of Government affairs on a retainer basis, and the discussion about his business background. I asked Sir John whether there had been a different conversation when he had raised these points or whether his recall had been mistaken. I noted that the transcript recorded him as saying, "I've done in the past quite a lot of consultancy for people who wanted to get involved with the public sector … It's now quite difficult for a serving MP to do that, but once you're retired you can do as much of it as you like … So people have come to me for advice on procurement issues, for example."

57. I told Sir John that I would like to be able to reconcile that statement with what he had told me in respect of this issue in his letter of 24 March[33] and reiterated in his letter of 6 April.[34] Given that all his consultancy work had been unpaid and on behalf of companies in his constituency, I said that I was having difficulty in understanding his reference to it now being difficult for a serving MP to undertake consultancy, since consultancy in support of their constituents might be thought to be a reasonable activity for a Member to undertake.

58. I noted also that in his meeting with the undercover reporter Sir John had made reference to his work in support of members of the pension fund of the former engineering and construction services company Kvaerner. Sir John had said, "… I have to say I blackmailed him [the new owner of Kvaerner]. I said that unless you put a decent amount of money into the British pension fund, he might find it difficult to get public sector work, either here, or in the rest of the EU. And he put twenty five million in."[35] I asked Sir John whether this was an accurate statement of what had in fact happened and whether he thought it had been acceptable for him to "blackmail" the new owner as described. I also asked him how he would have been able to influence public sector work as he had suggested.

59. I noted further that in the transcript Sir John had said that "all my private Members' Bills are pro bono".[36] I asked Sir John whether he accepted that the implication of this statement would appear to be that there were some private Members' Bills that were not pro bono, and would be the subject of payment to a Member. I asked Sir John whether it was reasonable to draw such a conclusion and, if so, to make such an allegation.

60. I further noted that Sir John had said in the transcript that he would be prepared to undertake informal consultancy work while still a sitting MP.[37] I asked him what he had thought he was agreeing to, and whether he had assumed he would be paid for that work. Sir John had said in the meeting with the undercover reporter that he had received a number of approaches, including from a major trade association, for work after he left Parliament.[38] I asked him whether he had at present secured any remunerated employment and, if so, what it was.

61. I finally noted that Sir John had referred to his chairmanship of Gold Mining,[39] and I asked him whether this was a reference to his Register entry as a Director and shareholder of Gold Island Limited, and whether it was currently unremunerated.

62. Sir John wrote to me on 22 June, confirming that the transcript was largely an accurate version of the discussions he had had with the undercover reporter.[40] Sir John said that there were, however, two matters which puzzled him. First, he had a clear recollection that at some point in the discussions, he had made it clear that he was more interested in joining an advisory board than engaging in parliamentary lobbying. To a degree, he said that this was reinforced by the length of information provided by him relating primarily to his business experience rather than his parliamentary career. "You will have noted for example, that when I was pressed on my experience at the Department of Transport, I pointed out that this was all a long time ago."

63. Sir John said that he was also puzzled that his recollection of the conversations was that when the reporter had asked him about the possibility of entertaining Ministers and/or civil servants, he had responded by saying that this would be improper and contrary to the parliamentary rules. He said, "This does not appear in the transcript, but I did make it clear ... that Ministers and civil servants did not like being wined and dined etc."[41] Sir John also told me that, at the time of the meeting with the reporter, he had been suffering from the after-effects of an illness which had affected him at the end of January. Among other effects, Sir John said that he had been left with a degree of loss of memory.

64. On the difficulty of a sitting MP providing consultancy for people who wanted to get involved with the public sector[42] Sir John said that under the Rules this could occur where a Member had a financial interest in a company in his or her constituency, employing perhaps large numbers of his constituents. "In such a case, it seems to me that the Member could argue in favour of the company, provided that the interest had been disclosed in the Register of Members' Interests, and again disclosed verbally during a debate."

65. Sir John said that in relation to Kvaerner, he might have used "somewhat colourful language." Sir John said that he had had no personal contact with the businessman concerned but that, together with other Members of Parliament who had constituents in the Kvaerner Group, he had advised a group of pensioners and employees on how they might best "shame the businessman into providing proper protection to his UK employees." The Members had advised them to suggest that a failure to protect members of his pension fund would be likely to lead to protests against Kvaerner, were they to seek to obtain contracts from public authorities both in the UK and the EU. This strategy was extremely successful and he was proud of his role in it.

66. So far as private Members' Bills were concerned, Sir John said that he did not accept that the implication of his statement implied that some private Members' Bills were not pro bono and he did not accept that it would be reasonable to draw such a conclusion. On the issue of informal consultancy Sir John said that he had made it clear that he did not think this was likely to occur but that he would have to be careful if he did accept some form of engagement before the Election and that he would have to ensure that no improper conflict of interest occurred. He said he had gone on to say that in view of the imminence of a General Election, he doubted that there would be any likelihood that Ministers would be interested in talking to anyone at the time.

67. Sir John said that while it was correct that he had said that he had had a number of approaches for work after he left Parliament, he had not secured any such remunerated employment and had not heard further from the trade association he had mentioned.[43] He said that his Chairmanship of the Gold Mining Company was indeed a reference to his register entry as a Director and shareholder of Gold Island Ltd, and that it was still currently unremunerated.

68. I wrote to Sir John on 25 June.[44] I said I hoped that I was right in assuming that he accepted that he had not in fact said that he was more interested in the advisory board than in parliamentary lobbying, and that he did not say that entertaining Ministers and civil servants would be improper. I said that it appeared from the transcripts that he had expected that he would be asked to make introductions to contacts, and that that might suggest that he had been prepared to be involved in that form of parliamentary lobbying once he had left Parliament.

69. I also drew Sir John's attention to his statement in his letter of 24 March,[45] where he said that he had indicated at the end of the interview that he had been unsure whether he would be willing to work for the interviewer's company and would need a great deal more information about them. I said that I did not think that there was such a statement from him at the end of the interview transcript, although he was recorded as saying, "It's quite interesting actually … I think this looks like fun. You know, it looks like something that I could get involved with. I recently also had an approach from a major trade association in the UK, that said would I become a consultant to them? … Well I think we could probably manage the two, because I don't think they'd necessarily conflict, in fact they might actually work quite well with each other, but that remains to be seen … Well I'll wait to hear from you."[46] I asked Sir John whether he accepted that his recollection on this point was not borne out by the transcript.

70. On difficulties of consultancy work for a serving MP, I said that I had noted the point he had made. Given that the prohibition in the Rules of the House was directed against advocacy as opposed to consultancy, I asked Sir John to explain why he considered that sitting MPs would now find it quite difficult to engage in consultancy. I told Sir John that I was asking him this because I might need to consider whether he was exaggerating the difficulties of current MPs engaging in consultancy in order to strengthen the case for employing a former Member in this role.

71. In relation to Sir John's evidence about Kvaerner, I asked him whether he considered that, as well as using somewhat colourful language, he had exaggerated his role in this matter, since his statement had appeared to imply that he had taken direct action with the individual himself.

72. I said that I recognised that he did not accept that his reference to all his private Members' Bills being pro bono implied that there were some Members who did not act on this basis. But I said that it would be helpful to know his reasons why he did not think this conclusion should be drawn from his statement.

73. I told Sir John that I had noted his response on the offer of informal consultancy work before the election. I asked him whether he accepted that he did indeed agree to consider such work and that he would have expected to have received a fee for it.

74. Sir John wrote to me on 15 July.[47] He said that he remained puzzled why there appeared to be a number of discrepancies between his recollection of discussions and the transcript. Nevertheless he said that he saw no reason to make a major issue of the matter, since the overall conclusion which could be drawn from the transcripts was that he would be interested in both membership of an advisory board and involvement in making introductions to both Ministers and business contacts once he had left Parliament.

75. On the question of entertaining Ministers and civil servants, Sir John said that although the transcript did not contain the word improper, it did record his giving considerable detail on the way that such introductions should be made and suggesting that it would not be helpful to engage in wining and dining. He said that this discussion was concluded and reinforced by the discussion which ran, "JB Yes, they're very, very cautious about meeting anybody outside their offices" "CW Oh, right. So it's very hard to get them out for lunch?" "JB, So you don't take them out to lunch" "CW No exactly, you might alarm them" "JB Yes. That would be the wrong thing to do and actually, even with Ministers because we're so much scrutinised now ..."[48]

76. Sir John said that he had stated very clearly in the transcript that he would be unsure whether he would be willing to undertake work for the interviewer's company or their clients, although the transcript did not include the phrase "seeking due diligence" despite his own recollection that he did use such a phrase. He told me that, more importantly, he had given the undercover reporter an example of a previous similar approach which he had ultimately declined because he had not been satisfied with the information provided to him.[49] Sir John noted that this issue was referred to later in the discussion with the undercover reporter, where she had stated that someone from America would be coming to England with a view to Sir John meeting "one of the American guys and one of the clients". He said that the transcript then showed him as saying, "that will actually be essential and if in the meantime you can give me some more information about the company and the individuals ..."[50]

77. Sir John also told me that "It is a fact that sitting MPs now find it difficult to engage in consultancy. This is because a large proportion of members of the public and the press now take a view that it is improper for MPs to have any outside interest. It had never occurred to me that my comments on this matter could be interpreted as exaggerating the difficulties of current MPs in order to strengthen the case for employing a former Member in this role. I would take great exception to this interpretation on my comments."

78. Sir John told me that, in relation to Kvaerner, he might, in fact, have underplayed his role in the matter. He said that he had been approached by a Kvaerner Pension Fund (KPF) pensioner, who had been one of his constituents, and was heading up an action group because of what KPF had been proposing as far as British KPF pensioners were concerned. Sir John said that "Together, we devised a strategy to embarrass KPF by proceeding with a parliamentary lobby group, given the very large number of Members of Parliament who had significant numbers of constituents who were KPF pensioners." He attached a list of the relevant MPs (60 in all) "which you will see included large numbers of Ministers, including Tony Blair and Gordon Brown!"[51] Sir John told me that, through the KPF pensioner, he had made it clear that he would seek the support of these MPs in order to persuade Kvaerner that it would not be in their best interests to alienate such a powerful group of politicians. He said that this action had led the Chairman of the Trustee Board (appointed by the Norwegian board), together with other representatives of Kvaerner, to ask for a meeting with him in his office. He attached the minutes of that meeting, which took place on 10 March 2006.[52] These said that the parties at the meeting "recognised that negotiations between the Trustees and the Principal Employer are at a delicate stage ... In view of the delicate nature of the above negotiations, it was recommended that all parties should make every effort to reduce external political pressures on the negotiators ... Sir John Butterfill expressed his appreciation to [names of Trustees] for their frank explanation of the KPF situation. He understood the Trustees' need, and supported their request, for a reduction in political activity at this sensitive time." Sir John said that as a result of this he had been requested to "hold fire" whilst additional funding and an improved investment strategy might be arranged, and that following this intervention a satisfactory solution was agreed.

79. Sir John said that his statement that all his private Members' Bills had been pro bono[53] had been made simply to head off any accusations that he might have been trying to make personal gain from such a Bill. He said that he had, therefore, been defending himself rather than seeking to impugn the actions of other parliamentary colleagues. He told me that he took great exception to that suggestion.

80. Sir John said that he had neither agreed nor disagreed to carry out informal paid consultancy work before the Election, or indeed after it. He had regarded the interview as a preliminary discussion for both parties and had made it clear that he would need a great deal more information about the company and its clients before he could give any commitment of any sort.

81. I replied to Sir John on 20 July.[54] I said I had noted that he had agreed that he had offered to make introductions to Ministers and business contacts once he had left Parliament. I said that I assumed that he agreed that this constituted "lobbying", and asked him to let me know if this was not so.

82. I noted that there was no reference in the minutes of the meeting with Kvaerner Trustees on 10 March 2006[55] to Sir John's advice to the pension fund members set out in his letter to me of 22 June,[56] that they should suggest that, if they were not protected, there would be likely to be protests against Kvaerner were they to seek to obtain contracts from public authorities both in the UK and the EU. I asked Sir John whether he had given that advice before the meeting in March, and whether that advice had been followed before that meeting, where he had supported the Trustees' request for a reduction in political activity in view of the delicate nature of the negotiations. I also asked Sir John to confirm the accuracy of his statement to the undercover reporter that Kvaerner had subsequently paid £25 million into the pension fund.

83. I said that I had noted that Sir John believed that he had neither agreed nor disagreed to provide informal consultancy before the Election. I said that I would need in due course to weigh this alongside what he was recorded to have said in the transcript where he appeared to say that he would be available for informal consultancy work subject to looking at each one to see if there was any conflict; and to his suggestion that if the undercover reporter let him know what they were: "I can tell you whether we can do anything in March, but they're becoming, even now, they're becoming more and more…Obsessed with winning the election and the campaign and that's what they're all focused on."[57]

84. Sir John replied to me in a letter which I received on 2 August.[58] In response to my suggestion that he had agreed to undertake lobbying once he had left Parliament, Sir John said that he regarded introductions as "part of what might be undertaken as lobbying, but full blown lobbying includes much more, including extensive advocacy and promotion of the client, which would be beyond what I would either wish or be able to offer."

85. Sir John said that the action which had precipitated the meeting with the Chairman of the Kvaerner Pension Fund Trustees on 10th March 2006 was his suggestion to the KPF pensioner, who had been one of his constituents, and other constituents, that they should make it clear to the new Chairman of Trustees that failure by the company to meet its legal obligations to the pension scheme would result in a vigorous political campaign in the House of Commons. He said that this had resulted in the Trustees seeking the meeting with him and a request by the company to "hold off political activity" whilst negotiations took place. Sir John confirmed that "considerably more than £25 million" had now been paid into the fund.

86. Sir John said that, in making his remarks about informal consultancy before the Election,[59] he had been "trying to explain to the interviewer that there was no point in thinking about setting up a consultancy before the Election."

FINDINGS OF FACT

87. In February 2010 Sir John's office received an approach from the undercover reporter claiming to represent Anderson Perry. During an initial telephone conversation, Sir John and the undercover reporter agreed to meet.

88. At the start of the meeting with the reporter on 24 February 2010, Sir John referred to his CV. He described "the first lot of the companies where I, I've actually been a Director and a shareholder," before listing a number of other companies with which he had been involved before he became a Member, as well as some in which he had an interest during his time as a Member.[60] Sir John summarises this by saying that the early discussion during the meeting centred upon his previous business career and the skills that he could bring to any directorship. Sir John has made entries in the Register of Members' Financial Interests for remunerated employment as a Partner of Butterfill Associates and in working as a consultant to a firm of chartered surveyors, which he registered as "non-parliamentary" work.

89. When the undercover reporter said in the meeting that it might be "quite nice for you to meet one of the American guys [from Anderson Perry] and one of the clients" Sir John replied, "That will actually be essential and if in the meantime you can give me some more information about the company and the individuals, you know, the Board. Because there's not, unusually there's not, there's nothing on Google about ... About who your directors are"[61]

90. Sir John says that he is puzzled as to why there appear to be a number of discrepancies between his own recollection of discussions and the detail of the certified transcript. For example he says he has a clear recollection that at some point in his discussions with the undercover reporter, he made it clear to her that he was more interested in joining an Advisory Board than engaging in parliamentary lobbying, though this does not appear in the transcript. He accepts that at the time of the meeting he was suffering from the after effects of an illness which left him with a degree of loss of memory.

Issues subject to inquiry

i.  Introductions to Ministers

91. Sir John told the undercover reporter "I could organise a Minister, a meeting with a Minister in his office, or possibly if the Minister were really interested in getting more briefing, they might come to you." [62]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 12 of the Code of Conduct: Openness and frankness

92. Sir John accepted that the implication of his statement was that he could probably organise meetings with Ministers on a paid basis in the future when he was no longer a Member, but says that he had never done so in the past.

93. Sir John said that he regarded such introductions as part of what might be undertaken as lobbying, but that full blown lobbying included much more, including extensive advocacy and promotion of the client, which would be beyond what he would either wish or be able to offer.

ii.  Advice on Government contracts

Sir John told the undercover reporter, "I've done, in the past quite a lot of consultancy for people who wanted to get involved with the public sector. ... So people have come to me for advice on procurement issues, for example."[63]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

94. Sir John says that the consultancy work of this sort that he did in the past was entirely unremunerated, and related to representations made to him by constituency companies, many of whom were involved in Government in diverse ways, notably in the fields of insurance, financial services and manufacturing. He says that he has never received payment or any other form of remuneration for this work and therefore registration in the Register of Members' Financial Interests was not required. The consultancy work he registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests was non-parliamentary.

iii.  Possible membership of the House of Lords

95. Sir John told the undercover reporter: "it is quite likely that I will go to the Lords... And it also gives me another string to my bow, as far as you're concerned." He said that a Member of the House of Lords "might be somebody who'd been very much involved on procurement or on communications, or whatever it is that you're looking at."[64]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute

96. Sir John says that he intended to imply that potential clients would be likely to look favourably on having a member of the House of Lords on the advisory board. He says that his comment regarding the House of Lords was a rather "stupid" one since he completely overlooked the fact that, if he were to become a member of the House of Lords, he would be governed by similar rules to those which apply in the House of Commons.

iv.  Meetings with a future Conservative government

97. The undercover reporter asked Sir John, "it would be easy enough to arrange a meeting for us, or our clients with them [Ministers in a future Conservative government]?"[65] Sir John replied, "Yeah ... Provided there's something genuine that is likely to interest them and that depends on how I present things."[66]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct Disrepute

98. Sir John says that by this he implied that the matter would be something which the Minister might find helpful and possibly create a situation where valuable business could accrue to UK plc. He says that the phrase "that depends on how I present things" was intended to imply that he would be competent in any initial representation that he made.

v.  Serving MPs acting as consultants

99. Asked by the undercover reporter what was involved in the kind of consultancy work that he did, Sir John said: "it's now quite difficult for a serving MP to do that, but once you're retired, you can do as much of it as you like."[67]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute

100. Sir John says that it is a fact that sitting MPs now find it difficult to engage in consultancy. He believes that this is because a large proportion of members of the public and the press now take a view that it is improper for MPs to have any outside interest. He says that it had never occurred to him that his comments on this matter could be interpreted as exaggerating the difficulties of current MPs in order to strengthen the case for employing him as a former member in this role, and that he would take great exception to that interpretation of his comments.

vi.  Kvaerner Pension Fund

101. Sir John told the undercover reporter that Kvaerner "got taken over, together with the British subsidiaries, by a Norwegian ... And I have to say I blackmailed him. I said that unless you put a decent amount of money into the British pension fund, he might find it difficult to get public sector work, either here, or in the rest of the EU."[68]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute

102. Sir John says he may have used somewhat colourful language. He had no personal contact with the businessman concerned but he did advise a group of his pensioners and employees together with other Members of Parliament who had constituents in the Kvaerner Group, on how they might best shame the businessman into providing proper protection to his UK employees. They advised the pensioners and employees to suggest that a failure to protect members of the pension fund would be likely to lead to protests against Kvaerner, were they to seek to obtain contracts from public authorities both in the UK and the EU. Sir John says that this strategy was extremely successful and he is proud of his role in it.

vii.  Private Members' Bills

103. Having described some of the things he had done, Sir John told the undercover reporter, "A lot of this I've done on a pro bono basis. And for example, all my private Members' Bills are pro bono, the last one, the Building Societies (Funding) and Mutual Societies (Transfers) Act has actually saved the bacon of the mutual sector."[69]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute

104. Sir John says that he does not accept that his statement implied that some private Members' bills were not pro bono and he does not accept that it would be reasonable to draw such a conclusion. He says that his statement that all his private Members' bills had been pro bono was made simply to head off any accusations that he may have been trying to make personal gain from such a Bill. He was, therefore, defending himself rather than seeking to impugn the actions of other parliamentary colleagues and he takes great exception to this suggestion.

viii.  Entertaining Ministers and civil servants

105. In answer to a comment from the undercover reporter that she "would imagine our clients would be quite impressed to be able to meet a Minister or even to have a lunch or to go in for a meeting within the department",[70] Sir John said, "Yes, I could normally arrange for your clients to meet Ministers. And civil servants are quite difficult about that, they don't like being taken out to lunch and wined and dined, because they'll be accused of being partial perhaps." [71]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

106. Sir John says he is puzzled that his recollection of this conversation was that when the reporter asked him about the possibility of entertaining Ministers and or civil servants, he had responded by saying that this would be improper and contrary to the Parliamentary Rules. He notes that this does not appear in the transcript. The transcript records that he said that civil servants did not like being wined and dined. He says that while he told the undercover reporter that once he was no longer an MP, he would be free to make introductions to Ministers on behalf of clients, he had never in the past made such introductions.

ix.  Informal consultancy while still a Member

107. The undercover reporter asked Sir John, "in terms of how quickly you'd be able to get involved, you mentioned after the election, I didn't know whether you'd be available for any kind of more informal consultancy work before then?"[72] He replied, "Yes, so long as it doesn't, I'd have to look at each one to see if there was any conflict."[73]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute

108. Sir John says that he believes his statement made it clear that he did not think this was likely to occur, but that he would have to be careful if he did accept some form of engagement before the Election and that he would have to ensure that no improper conflict of interest occurred. He believes that he "neither agreed nor disagreed" to carry out informal paid consultancy work before the Election, or indeed after it.

x.  Being paid £30,000-£35,000 a year for advisory board/consultancy work

109. The undercover reporter asked Sir John what his "daily rate" might be for sitting on a board or for consultancy work.[74] He replied that for "sitting on a board, the going rate now is thirty, thirty five, something like that."[75]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

110. Sir John accepts that he said that the going rate for the work he was discussing with the undercover reporter as a director of an advisory board was in the region of £30-35,000 a year. He says that he has never at any time been paid £30-35,000 a year for consultancies or other services.

RT HON STEPHEN BYERS: MY INQUIRIES

111. I wrote to Mr Byers on 23 March.[76] I told him that, as I had decided to accept Ms Greening's complaint,[77] I did not need to conduct my inquiry on the basis of the self-referral he had sent me on 22 March.[78] I asked Mr Byers to give me a full account of the circumstances in which he had come to be interviewed by someone who turned out to be a journalist. I also asked Mr Byers to confirm a number of particular statements that he had been reported as having made during that interview, and whether each such statement was true. The statements concerned were that he:

  • had continued to receive confidential information through his links with Number 10;
  • had done work for National Express and for Rio Tinto. I asked him, if true, what that work was, why he had undertaken it, and why, as reported, he had received no financial or other benefit from this work;
  • had advised that elections are a "great time" if there is an issue where "your clients want to get a regulation changed or some law amended" to get in to see the civil servants. I asked him, if true, whether he had made such attempts for clients at any time, what the circumstances were and whether he had declared his interest;
  • knew ways around the Enterprise Act for clients "operating a restrictive practice" or "price fixing";
  • had discussed with the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (or someone else reporting to him) changes in food labelling regulations;
  • had discussed a similar matter with Lord Mandelson;
  • had held these discussions following a discussion with a senior representative of Tesco. I asked him, if he had held such discussions with Tesco, whether they or someone else had paid him for the services he had agreed to provide;
  • had in or about June 2009 discussed with the Secretary of State for Transport (or someone else reporting to him) the National Express rail franchises;
  • had held these discussions following a discussion with a senior representative of National Express. I asked him, if he did have such discussions with National Express, whether they or someone else had paid him for the services he had agreed to provide;
  • had said, "I'm a bit like a sort of cab for hire, I suppose, at the moment." I asked him why he had said that;
  • had told the interviewer that he charged £3,000 to £5,000 a day, or sometimes more, for his services. I also asked Mr Byers to confirm whether he had at any time been paid £3,000 to £5,000 a day for consultancy or other services, and if so, by whom and whether he had registered these payments.

112. I also asked Mr Byers what subsequent communications he or his legal advisers had had with the reporters; whether, if any of the allegations were true, Mr Byers considered that he had an obligation to make a Register entry or declaration, or both, in respect of any financial interest he had had in these alleged activities; and why if any of what he had said had been untrue, he had spoken as he had done. Finally, I told Mr Byers that I was inviting the Channel 4 programme makers to let me have any unbroadcast parts of his interview.

113. The General Election was called soon after the despatch of this letter, and I did not continue with my inquiry during the Dissolution of the House. Once the new Parliament had assembled on 18 May, I resumed my inquiry. On 27 May I received the certified transcripts of Mr Byers's conversations with the undercover reporter. I wrote to Mr Byers on 2 June, attaching a copy of the transcripts.[79] I noted from the transcript his references to a number of his clients at the time and to offers he had received for when he left Parliament. I asked Mr Byers for a full list of all the work he had undertaken in his last two years as a Member of Parliament, both remunerated and unremunerated, including his executive positions, and for clarification on which of these he had registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests.

114. I noted that, according to the transcript, Mr Byers said, when asked about contacting civil servants, that he would ring them up and say, "I want to bring someone in to have a chat about this policy area … I do it now as an MP."[80] I asked him to confirm that:

  • when he was an MP, he had asked for meetings with civil servants;
  • as he had apparently implied, he had done so on behalf of a client; and
  • if so, whether he had declared his interest to the civil servants at the time.

115. I also asked for information about further work which, according to the transcript, Mr Byers had apparently undertaken for external clients. I also noted that he had said, "I chair this water services company. Every five years the regulator Ofwat comes up with a five-year investment programme … So once again, I approached … Hilary Benn who was dealing with it as the Minister... he said, 'Well the best way is to talk to the regulator', which I did, and then talk to the relevant civil servants, which I did, and we just got an announcement just before Christmas, which actually is pretty good in terms of levels of investment … it certainly benefited my guys because they've got a high level of investment over the next year, over the next five years."[81] I asked Mr Byers:

  • whether he had indeed approached the then Secretary of State and subsequently his officials and Ofwat;
  • when this had occurred;
  • whether it had occurred as he had described it; and
  • whether at each point he had declared his interests as chair of ACWA Services Limited.

116. According to the transcript Mr Byers had said to the undercover reporter, "the important thing for your clients to be able to say, and for us to be able ... to identify on their behalf, is, if there's … a business commercial opportunity for them, but there is … some regulation which is standing in the way, or some other restriction … And we then say, 'right, okay, we can be the facilitators, we can say right … this is how that can be done.'"[82] I asked Mr Byers whether he had performed this service for his clients, how he had undertaken it, and whether, in any contacts he had had with Ministers or officials or others, he had declared his interest.

117. I noted also Mr Byers' description of his role in mediating in a dispute which BP had had with contractors about alleged cost overruns on a pipeline going to Turkey. He was recorded as saying: "...I just sat down for three days with them, and worked out, you know, I had one lot in one room and one lot in the other, and you just negotiate between the two, and say well actually I think, you know, you could, for $380 million, you could solve this. And they then said fine."[83]

118. I asked Mr Byers whether:

  • he had acted in the way described;
  • he had been paid for his services and, if not, why not;
  • if he had been paid, he had considered registering that payment in the Register of Members' Financial Interests.

119. I said that according to the transcript Mr Byers had said that his scale of payments varied but it was "usually between three and five thousand a day." [84] I asked Mr Byers what particular work he had been referring to there, and whether it would be reasonable to assume that the reference applied to the examples of the work he had undertaken as described earlier in the interview.

120. I referred Mr Byers to a passage in the transcript concerning the allegation that he received confidential information from Number 10. He had said that there was someone whom he knew very well in Mr Cameron's office who would go with him to Number 10, and, "probably over a couple of drinks, we'd … say … rather more than we should say."[85] I asked Mr Byers whether:

  • it was the case that he did know someone close to Mr Cameron;
  • he had had the discussions with him which he had described;
  • if so, the discussions were on behalf of any of his clients and,
  • if so, he had declared his interest during these discussions.

121. I noted that in the transcript Mr Byers said, in the context of the coming General Election and the imminent production of the party manifestos, "We go through the manifesto, we say right if it's a water company, we say there's a real problem here … we should go and talk to a civil servant about how they're going to recommend that is done. … you'll either get it delayed … basically you want to convince the civil servant that it 's totally impractical, you know, high risk."[86] I asked him whether:

  • this was an accurate statement of the work he had done on behalf of a water company in respect of any party's manifesto in any previous General Election;
  • he had in fact done this in the recent General Election and;
  • if he had done so, he had arranged a meeting with civil servants and in that case he had declared his interest.

122. Finally, according to the transcript Mr Byers had suggested to the undercover reporter that when the alleged employer came over from the United States, "We can meet over in Westminster, you can come along as well, we can have a drink in one of the nice places there."[87] I asked Mr Byers whether it had been his intention to use House facilities to discuss his future employment.

123. Mr Byers replied by e-mail on 29 June.[88] To this he attached a paper[89] containing his response to my letters of 23 March[90] and 2 June.[91]

124. In the paper Mr Byers said that in early February 2010 he had received "an unsolicited approach from a woman calling herself Claire Webster. She said she was from a public affairs company called Anderson Perry and that she had been given the task of establishing a London office for the company. She asked whether I would be interested in discussing a role with Anderson Perry as a member of a soon to be established advisory board and/or as a consultant to their clients." Mr Byers told me that he and Claire Webster had agreed to meet on 23 February. He said that this had been very much a preliminary meeting.

125. Mr Byers said that he had understood that the meeting was to be private, and that it was to be a confidential discussion about Anderson Perry's objectives in setting up a London office and his own plans for employment after he had stood down from Parliament at the forthcoming General Election. During his meeting with the undercover reporter, Mr Byers told me, he had "totally exaggerated" his experience in lobbying on behalf of commercial interests. "I must accept that my overstatements were made in order to impress a possible prospective future employer." The meeting had been held in the afternoon of 23 February. Mr Byers said that that same evening he had reflected on the statements he had made. He had realised that some of them could not be allowed to stand and that he would need to take immediate steps to clarify the situation and withdraw some of his comments. He had done this in e-mails sent the following morning (24 February)[92] and on 25 February.[93] After giving the whole matter further consideration he had withdrawn his name from consideration in an e-mail sent to the undercover reporter on 11 March.[94]

126. Mr Byers told me that his e-mail of 24 February had been aimed at setting the record straight about his actual level of experience in relation to the lobbying of Ministers in the UK and withdrawing those statements he had made during the meeting which were wrong. He had also made clear that he had completely over-stated the part he had played in securing changes to the way in which Government dealt with issues. He had sent his second e-mail on 25 February in order to further clarify his comments. Mr Byers said that he had made it clear in this e-mail that he had not spoken to Lord Adonis, Rt Hon Hilary Benn or Lord Mandelson about the matters he had mentioned during his meeting with Claire Webster, and that he did not have any experience of lobbying UK Government Ministers on behalf of commercial interests.

127. Mr Byers said that he had known that he should not have made the comments and so he took immediate steps to withdraw them and set the record straight.[95] Mr Byers said that he had continued to give consideration as to whether he really wanted to be engaged by Anderson Perry, and he had then concluded that he did not. He e-mailed Claire Webster on 11 March withdrawing his name from consideration.

128. Mr Byers said that he hoped that his account had answered many of the questions I had raised in my letters of 23 March and 2 June. He also said that he was "not in receipt of confidential information from Number 10; I did not know someone in Mr Cameron's office 'very well'; I did not use House facilities to discuss my future employment prospects and all of the work I did in addition to being a Member of Parliament was registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. Like most Members I would give advice to friends, voluntary groups and charities when asked, for which nothing is received and no obligations entered into."

129. Mr Byers said that the dispute in Turkey had concerned the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline for which Consolidated Contractors International had been the major contractor. His role with them had been registered. He had always made a full declaration of his outside interests in the Register of Members' Financial Interests.

130. In conclusion, Mr Byers said that he recognised that while he had taken immediate steps to withdraw and clarify the comments he had made during the meeting on 23 February this was not an excuse for making the comments in the first place. "I could try and put together all sorts of reasons as to how I come to make the statements I did but I have to accept that I simply should not have spoken in such terms. I therefore want to take this opportunity to offer my sincere and unreserved apologies to the House. I was wrong to have made the statements I did and am sorry for having done so."

131. Mr Byers sent me copies of his emails to the undercover reporter of 24 and 25 February and 11 March, and of her reply of 24 February.[96] In the first e-mail, sent the day after his meeting with her, Mr Byers said that he had been reflecting on their discussion. He said, "... I'm afraid I completely over-stated the part I have played in trying to secure changes to the way in which government deals with issues. In reality I have not been engaged in lobbying Ministers here in the UK. My statements yesterday would have given the opposite impression and I would like to take this opportunity to withdraw them." He continued that given his lack of experience he might not be the appropriate person to carry out the work she was thinking of. The reporter replied later that day, saying that she was going to speak to the Board in the US over the next week or two about a shortlist. She said she would contact Mr Byers again.

132. Mr Byers e-mailed again on 25 February, saying:

"I don't have any experience of lobbying UK Government Ministers on behalf of commercial interests. In the context of our discussion on Tuesday this means that I have not spoken to Andrew Adonis, Hilary Benn or Peter Mandelson about the matters I mentioned. I'm sorry that I indicated otherwise but on reflection wanted you to be aware of my lack of experience in this area before you speak to your board in the US about a shortlist. I hope this makes my position clear. If you have any questions don't hesitate to get in touch. In fact I shall now be in Westminster for the next weeks so we could easily meet up again. Just let me know."

133. In his e-mail of 11 March Mr Byers said that he had given a good deal of thought to the role Anderson Perry wanted their advisory board members to play. He said that he had no experience in this kind of work. "To be totally open with you this is an aspect of public affairs work that I don't feel comfortable about and is not something I would wish to be part of." He asked her to withdraw his name from consideration as an Advisory Board member and he apologised for wasting her time.

134. I wrote to Mr Byers on 1 July. [97] I noted his statement that he had "totally exaggerated" his experience of lobbying on behalf of commercial interests and the points he had made in his e-mails to the interviewer of 24 February,[98] 25 February[99] and 11 March.[100] I asked him to provide me with specific responses to each of the questions I had set out in my letters to him of 23 March[101] and 2 June,[102] and I asked him the following further questions:

1)  In relation to the dispute in Turkey (mentioned in my letter of 2 June[103]) I asked him whether he had mediated in the dispute, as suggested in the transcript, and, if so, whether he had been paid a separate fee for that work.

2)  In relation to the use of House facilities (mentioned in my letter of 2 June[104]), I said that his statement to the interviewer appeared to suggest that he had intended to use House facilities for the purpose of meeting the fictitious American employers (although, of course, it had never happened).[105] I asked Mr Byers whether he agreed that that was the clear impression he had given by his statement and whether he considered that such a meeting would have been an acceptable use of House facilities.

3)  I asked Mr Byers whether, at the time he had sent any of his e-mails to Claire Webster , he had had any inkling or suspicion that either she or the company she had said she represented were not what they claimed to be.

135. Mr Byers replied to me on 13 July,[106] attaching a supplementary response to my questions.[107] He said that in responding to my outstanding questions he did not seek to excuse himself for making the comments in the first place. He continued, "I accept that I should not have spoken in the terms I did and offer my sincere and unreserved apologies to the House for having done so."

136. Mr Byers told me that he had not done work for National Express[108] or Rio Tinto,[109] and that he had not sought to gain access to civil servants on behalf of clients. Mr Byers said that he was unaware of ways around the Enterprise Act. In reply to my question about discussions with a senior representative of Tesco before raising the issue of food labelling regulations with DEFRA or Lord Mandelson, he said that no such discussions had taken place. He also said that he had had no discussions with a senior representative of National Express in advance of discussions with the Department for Transport in respect of the National Express rail franchises.

137. Mr Byers said that the full transcript of his meeting with the undercover reporter made clear that in that meeting he had been discussing the situation he would be in once he had left Parliament. He said that he had mentioned the three positions that he had hoped to keep, and that he recognised that the phrase, "I'm a bit like a sort of cab for hire, I suppose, at the moment", was one that he should not have used. He continued, "In a clumsy way I was trying to indicate that on leaving the House I would not be seeking a single, full time job but would be looking for a number of different employment opportunities."

138. On the question of fees Mr Byers said that £3,000 to £5,000 a day, or sometimes more, was the level of fee he had charged when making speeches to commercial organisations. These had always been declared. Mr Byers said that for consultancy and advisory services he had charged a lower fee, and these had always been declared.[110] He had never entered into an agreement with any outside body that had involved him in the provision of services in his capacity as a Member of Parliament.

139. Mr Byers said that his communications with the reporters after the interview comprised the e-mails he had sent to the undercover reporter on 24 and 25 February and on 11 March.[111] He had also had a brief telephone conversation with the reporter on 24 February to alert her to the e-mail he had sent her clarifying the remarks he had made during their meeting the day before. He said that the allegations made were untrue and that he had always made a full disclosure of any "declarable" interests and made the appropriate entry in the Register.

140. In response to the questions in my letter of 2 June, Mr Byers said that he had understood that the meeting was to be private to enable a confidential discussion to take place about Anderson Perry's ambitions and his own plans for employment after he had stood down from Parliament. He said, "Looking back it is clear that I was telling the undercover reporter what I thought she wanted to hear. I accept that I did so in order to impress a possible prospective future employer."

141. Mr Byers said that in addition to those interests which he had declared in the Register, he had held various unpaid positions.[112] He said that none of these had constituted a declarable interest.

142. Mr Byers said that he had not asked for meetings with civil servants on behalf of a client. He said that no approach had been made to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, his officials or to Ofwat in relation to the Ofwat investment programme. Mr Byers said that he had not performed a service as a "facilitator" for clients in respect of regulations which had stood in the way of their business opportunities.

143. In relation to his scale of fees, Mr Byers said that he had seen the meeting with the person who turned out to be an undercover reporter "as the beginning of a negotiation to establish a fee ... it is higher than the fee I was charging in respect of those interests I have registered." He said that he had no other interests that needed to be registered.

144. Mr Byers told me that he had not, as he had told the undercover reporter, gone through any General Election manifesto to identify what might be a "real problem" for a water company and talked to a civil servant about getting a measure delayed because it was "totally impractical", or "high risk".

145. In response to my letter of 1 July,[113] Mr Byers told me that Consolidated Contractors International had been the main contractor for the construction of the pipeline in Turkey and that BP had been the lead client. He said that there had been a commercial dispute between the two and he had assisted the Consolidated Contractors team in the negotiations to achieve a settlement. This was part of his declared work for Consolidated Contractors International and he was not paid a separate fee. Mr Byers agreed that he had given the impression to the undercover reporter that he would use House facilities for the purpose of meeting the fictitious American employers. He said that he had been unaware of any rule relating to the type of guest that a Member could invite to the House.

146. Mr Byers said in relation to the meeting with the undercover reporter that he had "thought long and hard about whether I had any inkling or suspicion that things were not as they were claimed to be." He said that four months after the meeting it was difficult to say with certainty. "All I can say is that I didn't know at the time I sent my three e-mails that Anderson Perry was a fictitious company and that I had been deceived. My reason for sending the e-mails was because I knew that I couldn't allow my comments of 23 February to stand and that I had to take immediate steps to withdraw and clarify them."

147. Having considered this additional evidence I wrote to Mr Byers on 14 July.[114] I said that I noted from Lord Adonis's statement in the House of Lords of 22 March[115] that Lord Adonis had had a brief conversation with Mr Byers in June 2009 about the East Coast main line and the situation then facing National Express. (Lord Adonis had said in his statement that there was no truth in the suggestion that Mr Byers had come to any agreement with him on any matter relating to National Express or that National Express was allowed to avoid any of its rail contract obligations.) I asked Mr Byers to confirm that he had had such a conversation in June 2009 and to let me know why he had done so, and whether and in what terms he had raised with Lord Adonis the difficulties then facing National Express. I said that it would appear on the face of it that Mr Byers might have been lobbying the Minister on behalf of National Express and if so, I would need to know why he had done so.

148. Mr Byers replied to me in an e-mail on 20 July.[116] He confirmed that that he had had a brief conversation with Lord Adonis in June 2009 in the terms stated in Lord Adonis' statement in the House of Lords of 22 March 2010.[117] Mr Byers said that he had raised the future of the East Coast main line franchise in his role as a Member of Parliament representing the concerns and interests of his constituents.

149. Mr Byers said that the East Coast main line ran through his former constituency of North Tyneside. A number of his former constituents had been employed by National Express in the operation of the franchise and many former constituents used the service as passengers. He said that in June 2009 there had been a good deal of speculation and uncertainty about the future of the franchise. Constituents had been worried about job security and terms and conditions of employment. Mr Byers told me that members of the travelling public had wanted assurances about reliability and punctuality. "My sole reason for meeting the Secretary of State in June of last year was to raise these concerns on behalf of my constituents. I was not putting forward a case on behalf of National Express."

150. I replied to Mr Byers on 20 July.[118] I said that in view of what he had said, I was likely to need to come to a view on his statement that he had been speaking on behalf of his constituents and not of National Express. I asked Mr Byers what points he had made to Lord Adonis, approximately how many constituents had raised this with him and in what fora, and whether he could confirm that he had had no discussions or contacts with any representatives of National Express either before or after his meeting with Lord Adonis.

151. In the light of the information he had supplied about his discussion with Lord Adonis, I also asked Mr Byers to let me know whether he had had any discussions or contact at all on water matters with the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP when he was Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; or with his officials or with Ofwat; or with Lord Mandelson on food labelling regulations when he was Secretary of State for Business. I also asked him to confirm that he had had no discussions at any time with Tesco representatives on food labelling regulations. I said that I needed to be clear whether, as with Lord Adonis, he had had some discussions with each of the people or bodies indentified, albeit not in the terms he had described in his interview with the undercover reporter.

152. Mr Byers responded to me by e-mail on 12 August.[119] He said that most of the conversation in his meeting with Lord Adonis in the House of Commons in June 2009 was about "the general political scene", and that he had also used the opportunity of the meeting to have a brief conversation with Lord Adonis about the East Coast franchise and the concerns of his constituents. They had discussed in general terms the rail franchising system and the difficulties it caused. Mr Byers said, "I remember expressing the view that, in a situation like this, uncertainty was not good and that he [Lord Adonis] should try and reach a decision on the East Coast franchise as soon as possible." Lord Adonis had replied that, as he had no intention of entering into a renegotiation of the franchise, he should be in a position to decide sooner rather than later. Mr Byers said that, in fact, Lord Adonis had made his decision a few weeks later, on 1 July 2009.

153. Mr Byers said that during May and June 2009, it had been widely known that National Express were in discussions with the Department of Transport about the East Coast franchise. It had first raised been raised with him through political channels in his constituency as the railway trade unions were calling for the franchise to be re-nationalised. He said that the future of the franchise had also been raised during his constituency advice surgeries, by at least one employee of National Express concerned about job security, and by another constituent worried about possible disruption to the service if the franchise changed hands again, GNER having originally held the franchise until they pulled out and it was taken over by National Express.

154. Mr Byers said that in late May or early June 2009 he had met with Mr Richard Bowker, who at the time was Chief Executive of National Express. He told me that he had first met Mr Bowker in 2001 when he had appointed him to head the Strategic Rail Authority and since then they had remained in contact. "Our conversation was wide-ranging. We did, in the course of it, discuss the problems he was having with the East Coast franchise but at no stage did he ask me to intervene on behalf of National Express with Lord Adonis. In fact, about a month after our meeting he resigned as Chief Executive of National Express."

155. Mr Byers said that although he did not know the exact date, during this period he had been one of a number of Members with constituencies on the route of the East Coast railway line who had been spoken to by National Express about the discussions they were having with the Department of Transport about the franchise. He said that "This simply took the form of a briefing for information purposes. At no time did I speak to Lord Adonis on behalf of National Express."

156. He confirmed that he had had no discussions or contact at all on water matters with Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, then Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or with his officials or with Ofwat. He also confirmed that he had had no discussions or contact at all with Lord Mandelson or Tesco representatives concerning food labelling regulations.

157. I wrote to Mr Byers on 12 August.[120] I said that it would appear that he had been briefed by a National Express representative sometime in the spring of 2009 and then had a meeting with the then Chief Executive shortly before he met Lord Adonis. I told Mr Byers that it might seem, therefore, that he had been the subject of some lobbying activity by National Express. I added that it might be reasonable to infer that the information they had given him was relevant, at least, to, and might have helped to inform, his conversation with Lord Adonis, along with the points which had been made to him by two of his constituents and the railway trade unions. I noted, however, that National Express were quoted in the Sunday Times article of 21 March[121] as saying that they had not paid him and that Mr Byers had told me in his 12 July response[122] that he had not done work for that company.

158. I asked Mr Byers for his comments on this interpretation of the evidence which he had given me, for his confirmation that he had received no payments from National Express, and for a little more information to clarify the position. I asked Mr Byers who from National Express had given him his briefing, whether it had been one to one or as part of a group, and whether National Express had made clear what outcome they had been seeking from the Government. I also asked Mr Byers whether the National Express representative had made any suggestion that he might assist them by making appropriate representations to the Government. I asked Mr Byers whether the Chief Executive had asked for a meeting with him, and whether he had made clear what outcome he had been seeking from the Government. Finally, I asked Mr Byers to confirm whether, after the initial conversation he had described to me, he had had any further contacts with Lord Adonis or his civil servants about National Express or the East Coast franchise.

159. Mr Byers wrote to me on 31 August.[123] He said that, although he had no record of the exact date of the briefing he received from National Express, he was "confident" that it took place after his meeting with Lord Adonis. Mr Byers confirmed that he had received no payments from National Express.

160. Mr Byers said that the National Express briefing had been over the telephone. He did not remember who had made the call. "I understand from a statement made by National Express in response to the Sunday Times/Dispatches programme that I was one of a number of Members spoken to at this time because the East Coast line runs through our constituencies. I do not recall any specific desired outcomes being made clear. It was more of an update on their discussions with the Department of Transport." Mr Byers said that there had been "no suggestion" that he might assist National Express by making representations to the Government. He said his meeting with the Chief Executive had been "an informal affair" and he did not remember who had asked for it. The East Coast franchise had formed a small part of a far more wide-ranging conversation. The Chief Executive had mentioned no specific outcome that he was seeking—"that simply wasn't in keeping with the nature and tone of our meeting."

161. Mr Byers confirmed what Lord Adonis had said, in his statement to the House of Lords on 22 March,[124] that they had had a brief conversation in June 2009. He confirmed that he had had no further contact with Lord Adonis or his civil servants about National Express or the East Coast franchise.

162. I wrote to Mr Byers on 1 September.[125] I noted that the sequence of his discussion with the representatives of National Express as set out in his e-mail of 31 August[126] was the opposite of what he had told the interviewer.[127] I asked Mr Byers whether his informal discussion with the Chief Executive of National Express took place before or after his meeting with Lord Adonis. I noted that he had told me in his e-mail of 12 August[128] that this discussion had taken place in late May or early June, which suggested that it had been held shortly before he had seen Lord Adonis.

163. Mr Byers responded to me by e-mail on 5 September.[129] He said that "For the sake of accuracy and hopefully not being too pedantic, I don't think it's correct to describe a telephone briefing from one person as 'a discussion with the representatives of National Express'". Mr Byers said that I was right to point out that what actually took place was not reflected in the transcript of his interview with the undercover reporter. He re-iterated what he had said in his e-mails to the reporter and from his legal representatives' letter to the production company,[130] that in the meeting with the undercover reporter he had "totally exaggerated" his experience in lobbying on behalf of commercial interests. His comments had been made at what he had been told was a private and confidential discussion about his employment plans when he had ceased to be a Member. Mr Byers accepted that his overstatements, which he had taken immediate steps to clarify and withdraw, were made "in order to impress a possible prospective future employer." Mr Byers said that although he could not be precise about the date, he believed that his meeting with the Chief Executive had taken place before his discussion with Lord Adonis.

164. I wrote to Mr Byers on 6 September.[131] I said I noted what he had said about the telephone briefing, although I noted also that the Sunday Times article of 21 March[132] had reported that National Express had said that they had had "discussions" with a number of MPs whose constituencies lay along the East Coast main line. I recalled that Mr Byers had told me in his e-mail of 12 August[133] that he had raised with Lord Adonis the concerns of his constituents. I asked Mr Byers whether these concerns had coincided with what he had understood to be the concerns of the Chief Executive of National Express on this matter. I also asked him whether he had mentioned to Lord Adonis that, as well as his constituents' interests, the Chief Executive of National Express had raised the matter with him. I asked whether I would be right in assuming that he had anyway been aware of and taken account of the Chief Executive's views when he had had his meeting with Lord Adonis.

165. I told Mr Byers that I had taken from his evidence that the "source close to Richard Bowker" quoted in the Sunday Times on 21 March[134] had been wrong in all respects to suggest among other things that National Express had had a commercial relationship with Mr Byers (and so, by implication, had either paid or promised him payment) and that he had been acting on their behalf. I asked him to let me know if I was mistaken on that point.

166. I wrote again to Mr Byers on 7 September, enclosing copies of my correspondence with the Director of Catering and Retail Services.[135] I had sought her advice on 14 July about the rules in relation to the type of guest who could be invited to use House facilities.[136] I said in that letter that the undercover reporter had told Mr Byers that if someone representing the fictitious potential employers was coming over from America in the next couple of weeks, it would be good for Mr Byers to meet them, and that Mr Byers had responded, "We can meet over in Westminster, you can come along as well, we can have a drink in one of the nice places there... The Americans love it, by the way"[137] While no such meeting had taken place, since the company had been fictitious, I asked the Director whether it was within the rules for a Member to invite a prospective employer to a drink in a House of Commons bar in order to discuss their personal employment prospects.

167. The Director of Catering and Retail Services replied to me on 27 August. She said that, with the exception of the banqueting regulations, there were no specific regulations relating to the use of catering facilities in the House of Commons.[138] She told me, however, that the general principles and codes of conduct communicated to Members through various documents and channels applied equally to their conduct in using the refreshment facilities "as they do to the use of other House facilities."

168. I wrote to the Director of Catering and Retail Services on 1 September.[139] I said that I had noted the principles set out in the 2010 Members' Handbook, which made clear that the services and facilities of the House are provided "in order to assist Members in their parliamentary work" and that they "should not be used for party political campaigning or private business activity."[140] I asked the Director to confirm that these principles applied in the last Parliament and that they were the ones that she had had in mind.

169. The Director wrote to me on 6 September.[141] She said that she was aware from conversations with my predecessors that guidance was given to Members setting out the general principles and codes of conduct that they should adhere to in conducting their parliamentary duties, and, specifically, in making use of parliamentary facilities. The Director said that the extract I had quoted from the 2010 Members' Handbook was indeed the sort of guidance she had had in mind, but that she was unable to confirm if this wording was unchanged from previous versions or, indeed, whether or how any other guidance might have been given to Members.

170. I sought Mr Byers' comments on the Department's advice, including whether he considered that his suggestion that he would meet the fictitious American company representatives in Westminster for a drink "in one of the nice places there" suggested that he had been offering to use House facilities for private business purposes, namely to discuss his possible employment once he had left the House.[142]

171. Mr Byers sent me an e-mail on 16 September[143] responding to my letter to him of 6 September[144] about the East Coast rail franchise and my letter to him of 7 September[145] about the evidence from the Director of Catering and Retail Services. Mr Byers said that the views expressed by the Chief Executive of National Express on the East Coast franchise had not been the same as the concerns of his constituents. He said that he thought it unlikely that he would have mentioned to Lord Adonis that he had met the Chief Executive "but given the time lag I cannot be absolutely certain. While I was obviously aware of the Chief Executive's views this does not mean that I reflected them in my comments to Lord Adonis." He re-iterated that in his brief conversation with Lord Adonis about the franchise "I raised the concerns of my constituents—and nobody else". In relation to the quote in the Sunday Times from an unidentified source, he said that it was wrong in all respects.

172. Turning to the use of the House's catering facilities, Mr Byers noted that the 2010 Members' Handbook was issued in May 2010. The Members' Handbook that applied at the time of the conduct which was the subject of the complaint had been the one published in May 2008. He said, "I have gone through it and cannot find guidance of the kind you refer to which is contained in the 2010 version. The only reference relevant to the complaint would appear to be at page 48 which states, 'Members may entertain guests'.[146] There does not appear to be any guidance about the type of guest that might be entertained."

173. I wrote to Mr Byers on the same day, 16 September.[147] I said I had noted his response to my letter of 7 September about the use of refreshment facilities, and that he considered that there was no restriction at the time of his meeting with the undercover reporter in using catering facilities for business purposes. I said that I did, however, need to consider whether the more specific provision in the 2010 Handbook was likely to have articulated a more longstanding expectation. I told Mr Byers that it could be argued that that expectation was based on the understanding, as reflected in respect of expenses in successive Green Books, that parliamentary facilities should be used only for the purpose of a Member carrying out their parliamentary duties.

174. I said that I had taken no view on this matter myself. But I asked Mr Byers whether he considered that the arrangement he had suggested during the course of the interview with the undercover reporter was consistent with a principle that parliamentary facilities should be used only in support of a Member's parliamentary duties, and that meeting fictitious American company representatives in Westminster for a drink was an offer to use House facilities for purposes other than parliamentary business, namely to discuss his possible employment once he had left the House.

175. Mr Byers responded by e-mail on 20 September.[148] He said that he recognised that if the view was taken that at the time of the complaint the only guests who could be entertained by a Member were those relevant to a Member's parliamentary duties, then his invitation had gone beyond this. He re-iterated that the Members' Handbook in force at the time of his invitation made no reference to any restriction on the type of guest that could be entertained, although the most recent version of the Handbook published in May 2010 did introduce restrictions. He noted that I had raised the provisions contained in the Green Book, and said that he was unaware that the principles which applied to the claiming of parliamentary expenses would also apply to the type of guest that a Member could invite to the House.

176. After I had reviewed the evidence which he had provided, I wrote to Mr Byers on 29 September to raise an additional point.[149] I asked Mr Byers whether he had at any time had a meeting with the then Secretary of State for the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Rt Hon Hilary Benn) in respect of food labelling regulations. I noted that he had told me in his letter of 13 July[150] that he had had no discussions with senior representatives at Tesco before raising the issue of food labelling regulations with DEFRA or Lord Mandelson. I said that in his e-mail of 12 August[151] in response to the specific questions I had asked him in my letter of 20 July,[152] he had confirmed that he had had no discussions or contact at all with Lord Mandelson or Tesco representatives concerning food labelling regulations. I had not specifically asked him, however, about any contacts he had had with the Secretary of State. I asked him therefore to confirm that he had had no contact with the then Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in relation to any aspect of food labelling.

177. Mr Byers e-mailed me on 7 October.[153] He confirmed that at no time did he have a meeting with the then Secretary of State for the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Rt Hon Hilary Benn) in respect of food labelling regulations.

FINDINGS OF FACT

178. In early February 2010 Mr Byers received an approach from the undercover reporter, who said she was from Anderson Perry.

179. During an initial telephone conversation, Mr Byers and the undercover reporter agreed to meet.

180. Mr Byers and the undercover reporter met on 23 February 2010. Mr Byers' evidence is that this was very much a preliminary meeting. He says that nothing was agreed and no commitments were made either by himself or the undercover reporter. Mr Byers says he understood that the meeting was to be private, and that it was to be a confidential discussion about Anderson Perry's objectives in setting up a London office and his own plans for employment after he stood down from Parliament at the forthcoming General Election.

181. Shortly after this meeting he sent a series of e-mails to the undercover reporter. Two, dated 24 and 25 February 2010, withdrew some of the comments he had made. And in an e-mail of 11 March he withdrew his name for consideration as an Advisory Board Member. The e-mails are referred to more fully in section xiii below.

Issues subject to inquiry

i.  Confidential information

182. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter, "at the moment I get, I still get a lot of confidential information, because I'm still linked into Number 10 and so on."[154] Mr Byers told the undercover reporter that he knew very well someone in the office of Rt Hon David Cameron and that "probably over a couple of drinks, we'd … say … rather more than we should say."[155]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 13 of the Code of Conduct: Confidential information for financial gain. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute

183. Mr Byers says that he was not in receipt of confidential information from Number 10. He says that he did not know someone in Mr Cameron's office very well.

ii.  Accessing civil servants

184. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter, "there's a very good opportunity ...when the election is called...The civil servants then spend that month working through all the sort of policy options. And it's a great time, and if there's an issue where your clients actually want to, to get the, a regulation changed, or some law amended... because there's no Ministers around ..."[156]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

185. Mr Byers says he has not sought to gain access to civil servants on behalf of clients.

iii.  Securing removal of a regulation

186. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter, "... the important thing for your clients to be able to say, and for us to be ...able to identify on their behalf, is, if there's a..., if there's a business commercial opportunity for them, but there is a sort of, some regulation which is standing in the way, or some other restriction, ...then we have to work out the solution ... And we then say right okay, we can be the facilitators..."[157]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

187. Mr Byers says that he has not performed such a service for clients.

iv.  Ways around the Enterprise Act

188. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter, "when I was at Trade and Industry, I was the sort of architect of the Enterprise Act ... if the Office of Fair Trading say you're operating a restrictive practice, or if you're price fixing, or whatever ... But you also know ways round it. Well actually ... there's an ace you can play here."[158]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute

189. Mr Byers says he is unaware of ways around the Enterprise Act.

v.  Food labelling regulations

190. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter, "there was an issue about labelling food in supermarkets ... it was a massively bureaucratic labelling exercise, so there's a woman called Lucy Neville-Rolfe ... I know Lucy really well. She rang me to basically, (...INAUDIBLE...) you've got to get it stopped." [159]

191. Mr Byers also told the undercover reporter, in discussing the food labelling regulations, "but the trump card when that happens is you talk to the business department, so you ring Peter Mandelson up and say, 'Peter, did you know that Hilary Benn's about to do?' He said 'What?' ... And so then so Peter got it, he got it delayed, and then got it amended."[160]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

192. Mr Byers says he had no discussions or contact at all with Tesco representatives about food labelling regulations. He says that at no time did he have a meeting with the then Secretary of State for the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Rt Hon Hilary Benn) in respect of food labelling regulations. Mr Byers says he had no discussions or contact at all with Lord Mandelson concerning food labelling regulations.

vi.  National Express

193. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter, "I do a bit of work for National Express."[161]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct; Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

194. Mr Byers says that he has not done work for National Express.

195. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter: "So they [National Express] approached me—June of last year? And said, we've got a huge problem, we want to get out of the east coast mainline, but not pay a huge penalty and we want to keep in the other two franchises as long we can."[162]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy.

196. Mr Byers initially told me no discussions had taken place with senior representatives of National Express. Subsequently he said that in late May or early June 2009 he met with Mr Richard Bowker who at the time was Chief Executive of National Express. Mr Byers' evidence is that he has known Mr Bowker since 2001 when Mr Byers appointed him to head the Strategic Rail Authority, and they had remained in contact since. Mr Byers says that the meeting was informal and that the discussion ranged widely: the East Coast rail franchise formed only a small part of the discussion. The meeting with Mr Bowker was shortly before Mr Byers met Lord Adonis in June 2009. Mr Byers says that, in the course of a wide-ranging conversation with Lord Adonis discussing the general political scene, they discussed briefly the problems with the East Coast franchise and the concerns of his constituents, which Mr Byers says were the sole reason for the meeting with Lord Adonis. Mr Byers says that Mr Bowker had not at any stage asked him to intervene with the Minister on behalf of National Express and he did not do so. Mr Byers says that he was also one of a number of Members with constituencies on the route of the East Coast railway line who received a telephone briefing from National Express about the discussions they were having with the Department of Transport about the franchise. He says that this simply took the form of a briefing for information purposes. He believes that the phone call happened after his meeting with Lord Adonis.

197. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter, "So between you and I, I then spoke to Andrew Adonis, the Transport Secretary, and said, 'Andrew look, [National Express have] got a huge problem. Is there a way out of this?' And then we, we sort of worked together ... you know you have to keep this very confidential yourself...He said, 'We shouldn't be involved in the detailed negotiation between his civil servants and National Express but we can give them a broad steer. So I will talk to you about where I want to go and you then Steve will talk to me about where National Express is prepared to go.'"

198. Mr Byers then said to the reporter, "So we basically got to a situation where we agreed with Andrew he would, he would publicly be very critical of National Express and talk about, 'I'm going to strip you of the franchise', and be very gung ho and we said we will live with that and we won't challenge you in the court, provided you then let us out by December, by the end of the year and we can keep the other two franchises for a little longer. So, and that's what we managed to do ...."[163]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct; Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

199. Mr Byers says that he did not have this discussion as told to the reporter. In June 2009 he had raised in discussion with Lord Adonis the future of the East Coast main line franchise with Lord Adonis in his role as a Member of Parliament trying his best to represent the concerns and interests of his then constituents. He says he was not putting forward a case on behalf of National Express.

200. On 22 March 2010, Lord Adonis told the House of Lords that he had a brief conversation with Mr Byers in June 2009 about the East Coast main line and the situation then facing National Express. He said that there was no truth in the suggestion that Mr Byers came to any arrangement with him about any matter relating to National Express, or that National Express was allowed to avoid any of its rail contract obligations.

vii.  Rio Tinto

201. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter: "I do a bit of work for Rio Tinto, but that's been in Kazakhstan ... For example with Rio Tinto, um, one of the things I was doing with them ... I know someone who's very close to the crown prince in the UAE, and he, we were talking to him about whether they would use one of the, one of the, the big Abu Dhabi funds to invest in the Rio Tinto project."[164]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

202. Mr Byers says he has not done work for Rio Tinto.

viii.  Ofwat

203. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter: "I chair this water services company. Every five years the regulator Ofwat comes up with a five-year investment programme … So... I approached … Hilary Benn, who was dealing with it as the Minister. He said, 'Well the best way is to talk to the regulator', which I did, and then talk to the relevant civil servants, which I did, and we just got an announcement just before Christmas, which actually is pretty good in terms of levels of investment … It certainly benefited my guys because they got a high-level investment over the next, over the five years."[165]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

204. Mr Byers has told me that he had no discussions or contact at all on water matters with Hilary Benn, or with his officials or with Ofwat. He has said that he made no approaches to any of those mentioned.

ix.  Mediating in a dispute

205. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter: "I do quite a lot of sort of almost, mediation to resolve disputes between companies and so on ... there's a big pipeline going from Azerbaijan to Turkey, and BP had a dispute with the contractors ... in the end I just sat down for three days with them ..."[166]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

206. Mr Byers says that the dispute in Turkey concerned a pipeline for which Consolidated Contractors International (CCI) was the major contractor, and BP were the lead client. He says that he assisted the Consolidated Contractors team in the negotiations to achieve a settlement; this was part of his declared work for CCI and he was not paid a separate fee. Mr Byers registered his role with CCI in the Register of Members' Financial Interests.

x.  Influencing manifesto implementation

207. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter that "We go through the manifesto, we say, 'right if it's a water company, we say there is a real problem here … we should go and talk to a civil servant about how they are going to recommend that is done.' … You'll either get it delayed … basically you want to convince a civil servant that it is totally impractical, you know, high risk." [167]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

208. Mr Byers says that this is not an accurate statement in respect of any General Election.

xi.  Use of House facilities

209. Mr Byers suggested to the undercover reporter, in the context of the alleged employers coming over from the United States, that "We can meet over in Westminster, you can come along as well, we can have a drink in one of the nice places there ... the Americans love it by the way."[168]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct; page 44 of the May 2008 edition of the Members' Handbook; general principles relating to the use of House facilities.

210. The Director of Catering and Retail Services says that there are no specific regulations relating to the use of catering facilities in the House of Commons. However, the general principles and codes of conduct communicated to Members through various documents and channels apply equally to their conduct in using the refreshment facilities as they do to the use of other House facilities. The 2010 Members' Handbook for the current Parliament contains a rule saying that House facilities should not be used for "private business activity". The 2008 Members' Handbook, which applied at the time of Mr Byers' conversation, says that Members "may entertain guests" in most Refreshment Department venues.

211. Mr Byers accepts that he gave the impression that he would use the House for private business discussion, but was unaware of any rule relating to the type of guest that a Member can invite to the House.

xii.  Cab for Hire

212. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter, after some discussion about possible work for Anderson Perry: "But no I'd be very interested, I mean I, I'd be, because it's not something I sort of, I, I get sort of, I'm a bit like a sort of cab for hire I suppose at the moment ..."[169]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute

213. Mr Byers says that he was discussing the situation he would be in once he had left Parliament. Mr Byers says that the phrase, "I'm a bit like a sort of cab for hire", is one that he should not have used. He says that in a clumsy way he was trying to indicate that on leaving the House he would not be seeking a single, full time job but would be looking for a number of different employment opportunities, to add to the three positions he already held.

xiii.  Exaggerated or untrue statements

214. After the meeting with the undercover reporter, Mr Byers sent a series of e-mails to her in which he made a number of statements about what he had told her. On 24 February, the day after the meeting, he told her: "I'm afraid I completely over-stated the part I have played in trying to secure changes to the way in which government deals with issues. In reality I have not been engaged in lobbying Ministers here in the UK. My statements yesterday would have given the opposite impression and I would like to take this opportunity to withdraw them. Given my lack of experience in this area it may well be the case that I'm not the appropriate person to carry out the work you are thinking of."

215. On 25 February Mr Byers told the reporter: "I have not spoken to Andrew Adonis, Hilary Benn or Peter Mandelson about the matters I mentioned."

216. On 11 March Mr Byers told the reporter: "To be totally open with you this is an aspect of public affairs work that I don't feel comfortable about and is not something I would wish to be part of. I would therefore be grateful if you could withdraw my name from consideration as an Advisory Board member ..."

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute

217. Mr Byers accepts that he totally exaggerated his experience in lobbying on behalf of commercial interests. His comments were made at what he had been told was a private and confidential discussion about his employment plans when he ceased to be a Member. He accepts that his overstatements—which he took immediate steps to clarify and withdraw—were made in order to impress a prospective future employer. Mr Byers has offered his sincere and unreserved apologies to the House. He says he was wrong to have made the statements and is sorry for having done so.

xiv.  Telling the undercover reporter that he charged £3,000 to £5,000 a day, or sometimes more, for his services

218. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter, who asked about his fees: "at the moment my sort of scale is between, it varies, but it's, it's usually between three and five thousand a day, that's the sort of wage ... I mean sometimes I can charge more, but that's, I mean, I was just, you know, that's the rate, that's the range".[170]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

219. Mr Byers says that £3,000 to £5,000 a day, or sometimes more, was the level of fee he charged when making speeches to commercial organisations. These were always declared in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. Mr Byers says that for consultancy and advisory services he charged a lower fee, which was also always declared in the Register. Mr Byers says that he saw the meeting with the undercover reporter as the beginning of a negotiation to establish a fee for work to be carried out when he was no longer a Member.

RT HON PATRICIA HEWITT: MY INQUIRIES

220. I wrote to Ms Hewitt on 23 March.[171] I said that since I had decided to accept Ms Greening's complaint, I did not need to conduct my inquiry on the basis of the self-referral she had sent me with her e-mail of 22 March.[172] I asked Ms Hewitt to give me a full account of the circumstances in which she had come to be interviewed by someone who turned out to be a journalist. I also asked Ms Hewitt to confirm whether, as reported:

  • she had put Partnerships in Care (PiC) in touch with those working on Lord Bradley's inquiry, to enable PiC to give evidence to that inquiry and for Lord Bradley to visit one of PiC's establishments. I asked her, if that was true, how it had come about and how she had achieved it and why it had been necessary;
  • she had persuaded the Chairman of the Health and Criminal Justice National Advocacy Group to invite PiC to join the Advocacy Group. I asked her, if that was true, how she had achieved this;
  • PiC was her client. I asked her, if so, what remuneration she had received from PiC or indirectly from Cinven,[173] and for what services;
  • she had responded "Exactly" to the interviewer's statement that she had got PiC "into the system … with a view to getting further contracts, presumably, and being able to expand their work";[174] and that
  • she had spoken to both officials and Ministers about changing a carbon reduction regulation "in fact a way as to help Cinven..." That change helped Cinven and other private equity companies.[175] I asked her, if that was true, how she had achieved this.

221. I also asked Ms Hewitt to confirm whether she had at any time been paid £3,000 a day for consultancy or other services, and if so, by whom and whether she had registered these payments; what subsequent communications she or her legal advisers had had with the reporters; whether, if any of the allegations were true, she considered she had an obligation to make a Register entry or declaration, or both, in respect of any financial interest she had in these alleged activities; and why, if any of what she had said was untrue, she had spoken as she had done. Finally, I told Ms Hewitt that I was inviting the Channel 4 programme makers to let me have any unbroadcast parts of her interview.

222. Ms Hewitt e-mailed me on 7 April suggesting that it would be more convenient if she answered my questions of 23 March along with queries that might arise from the unbroadcast material when it arrived, and I agreed to her request.[176]

223. I did not continue with my inquiry during the Dissolution of the House. After the new Parliament had assembled on 18 May, I resumed my inquiry. On 27 May I received the certified transcripts of Ms Hewitt's conversations with the undercover reporter. I wrote to Ms Hewitt on 2 June, attaching the transcripts.[177] I asked her to confirm her remunerated directorships and other employment at the time of the interview, and that each had been registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests in accordance with the rules.

224. I noted that according to the transcript Ms Hewitt had described how she had been able to introduce PiC to NHS managers and senior Department of Health officials. I asked Ms Hewitt to confirm this and let me know whether on each occasion she had declared to these officials her work with Cinven and the relationship between PiC and Cinven.

225. I referred Ms Hewitt to the transcript of her description of her conversations with officials and Ministers about the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) regulations and her statement that she had kept talking to officials because of the regulations' effect on private equity firms.[178] I asked her whether she had declared her interest as a senior adviser to Cinven on each occasion when she had conducted these meetings.

226. I noted that, during the conversation with Claire Webster, Ms Hewitt had said, "So if you've got a client who needs a particular regulation removed, then we can often package that up in a way that will give the Minister a win, and with a new Government, committed to less regulation, that's an attractive argument to make."[179] I asked Ms Hewitt whether, as implied, she had undertaken such actions when she was a Member of Parliament, whether she had done so in support of any of the companies which remunerated her, and, if so, whether she had declared her interest to the Minister or officials whom she had contacted.

227. I said that Ms Hewitt had stated, in relation to civil servants, that she made a point of being in touch and, that "you need just to have a sort of eye to propriety and all of that … But I mean I have regular lunches and coffees and you know we're all mates really."[180] I asked Ms Hewitt whether she had indeed had such contacts with civil servants, if so, whether they had covered matters of interest to her clients; and, if so, whether she had declared her interest during those occasions.

228. I also noted that she had described actions which she implied she had taken to change a directive or legislation, and asked Ms Hewitt to confirm that she did take such action when she was a Member of Parliament. I also asked whether, as implied, she had done so on behalf of a client, and, if so, whether she had declared her interest.

229. Finally, I asked Ms Hewitt to confirm the date of the interview.

230. Ms Hewitt responded to my letters of 23 March[181] and 2 June[182] on 27 June. [183] She told me that she would like to emphasise firstly that, as was apparent from the transcript, the context of her meeting with Claire Webster was her availability and interest in taking on work after she had ceased to be a Member of Parliament. Her intention to stand down from Parliament had already been announced in June 2009. Secondly, as was also apparent from the transcript, she strongly endorsed the statement in the relevant guidelines that "it is in the public interest that former Ministers with experience in government should be able to move into business or into other areas of public life ... provided there is no cause for any suspicion of impropriety."[184]

231. I noted from the transcript of the initial telephone conversation[185] that the reporter said that she was looking to produce a board to help Anderson Perry break into the UK market and to "kind of advise us and our companies" on strategy. She wanted to know whether it was the kind of thing Ms Hewitt might be interested in getting involved in. Ms Hewitt replied "Well in principle yes" and explained that she already did some advisory work for the Barclays Capital Asian Pacific Advisory Board, for Cinven and Alliance Boots, as well as being a senior non-executive director for BT. The reporter explained that Anderson Perry undertook bespoke consultancy in the defence, construction, transport and health sectors; and that they already had clients in the US and the Middle East. Ms Hewitt then accepted the reporter's invitation to "drop in" at their office in St James's for a cup of coffee, to "have a chat about it and to see if this is the kind of thing you might be interested in doing."She asked for background information to be sent to her private e-mail address in the meantime.

232. Ms Hewitt said that she believed the transcript of this telephone conversation spoke for itself. She added that over the last year, and particularly since she had announced she was standing down from Parliament, she had received a number of approaches from businesses, consultancies and recruitment firms about possible advisory or non-executive positions. So there had been nothing unusual about the Anderson Perry approach. She believed that there would be no harm in having a preliminary meeting, and decided that she would only carry out the usual due diligence on the company and its clients if anything came of the initial conversation. She was therefore only prepared for an informal chat when she met Claire Webster.

233. Ms Hewitt described her arrival at Anderson Perry's offices for the meeting on 9 March. She said of the arrangements: "None of this was out of the ordinary and I had no reason to suspect either that she was a journalist or that there were hidden cameras in the room."

234. Ms Hewitt responded to my questions, in my letter of 23 March,[186] about what she was reported to have said during the meeting. First she responded to my query about her reported statement that it was "very do-able" to put business clients in touch with a Minister but "you have to be ...quite careful about ...how you do it".[187] She said that it was "highly desirable" that a Minister should have a dialogue or contact with businesses in the sector for which they had responsibility, and "in an appropriate case I would not hesitate to do my best to initiate a dialogue between a Minister and such a business. In any case where I was being paid as an adviser, however, I would always declare my interest to the Minister (or official) at the start of the conversation." By stating that a client should be "quite careful about how you do it" she had been referring to possible problems such as not acting improperly or putting the Minister in an embarrassing position (for example by trying to interfere in a procurement or planning process). Ms Hewitt said she was also referring to not going about it in the wrong way (e.g. by improperly getting an appointment at the Minister's constituency surgery) and not simply relying on writing to the Department (since the Minister might never see the letter). She also said that she was referring to "not asking an MP to do anything that would breach the Code of Conduct (e.g. an MP asking the Minister for something that would benefit only one company—and wasn't therefore for the public good)".

235. Ms Hewitt said that she had always been very conscious of the need to be careful herself if she were approaching a Minister on an issue where she had a financial interest, in particular by declaring her interest immediately and ensuring that she was not seeking to benefit only one organisation.

236. Ms Hewitt then responded to my question about her reported suggestion that she had suggested five ways for her client to meet a Minister and also my question as to whether she had advised any outside body or private company to lobby in any of these ways.[188] She said that if a company or voluntary organisation had a matter of legitimate concern that it wished to bring to the attention of a Minister, then the five suggestions she had made in the meeting were all normal and proper ways that any competent public affairs executive would use to approach a Minister. As a constituency MP, she had sometimes advised voluntary organisations and businesses in Leicester on how to make their views known, but she was never paid by such an organisation for that advice.

237. In response to my question about her suggestion that she had put PiC in touch with those working on Lord Bradley's inquiry, to enable PiC to give evidence to that inquiry and for Lord Bradley to visit one of PiC's establishments, Ms Hewitt said that she had taken the view that it was unfortunate that the Bradley Inquiry appeared to be talking more to the public than the private sector, and particularly so since PiC had in fact submitted its own evidence to the Inquiry, quite independent of any input on her part. Ms Hewitt said that she had at least one conversation with Lord Bradley regarding his Inquiry into the treatment of prisoners with mental health problems. She did not remember when that was, but it was before he drew up his report. "When I spoke to Lord Bradley I made it absolutely clear that I worked as an adviser to Cinven, the owners of PiC, and that PiC was an excellent provider of specialist mental health services, funded by the NHS. I declared my interest partly bearing in mind paragraphs 12[189] and 16[190] of the Code of Conduct for MPs, but also because I would never have a conversation under false pretences." In fact, she said, Lord Bradley had been neither a Minister nor a servant of the Crown when he undertook his Inquiry, but that did not affect her attitude towards the conversation.

238. Ms Hewitt said that she recalled that she had explained to Lord Bradley why she felt that the independent sector could make a valuable contribution to his Inquiry and "I suggested that he should meet or visit PiC so that he could see their work for himself." She said she remembered also telling him that PiC had submitted evidence to his Inquiry, but that she had not been sure whether he (Lord Bradley) had personally seen it. Ms Hewitt said she did not remember whether or not Lord Bradley did in fact visit PiC—"when I said 'I think' to 'Ms Webster', that reflected my lack of clear recollection on this point." Ms Hewitt said that the views she had expressed to Lord Bradley, although they had only been expressed after she had made clear to him that she was employed by Cinven, "were views that I firmly believe to be in the public interest. The Government has for many years pursued a policy of encouraging diverse providers to offer NHS services. As Health Secretary, I strongly believed that NHS patients and commissioners should be able to get the best services, whether from the public, private or not-for-profit sectors, and I remain of that view today. But I also knew that parts of the NHS did not support that policy, with the result that there is not always a 'level playing field' for independent sector providers."

239. In response to my question whether she had persuaded the Chairman of the Health and Criminal Justice National Advocacy Group to invite PiC to join the Advocacy Group, Ms Hewitt said that she had not claimed to Ms Webster to have persuaded the Chairman of the Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board to invite PiC to join the Advocacy Group. Ms Hewitt noted that there were in fact two separate bodies; PiC was a member of the National Advocacy Group. She quoted the transcript as stating that she was able to persuade the chairman of that taskforce that there would be a private sector, independent sector representative on that taskforce and because Partnerships in Care had been the most active it was their person who was then put on the taskforce.[191]

240. Ms Hewitt said that she had indeed raised the issue of the independent sector's involvement in mental health provision with the Department of Health. She attached with her letter to me the official Departmental note of the meeting held on 21 May 2009.[192] The note said that PiC "feel that there is a lot of capacity within the independent sector that is currently under-utilised as Commissioners are not involving the independent sector in this building capacity. They claim that MH Trusts and FTs are building their own rather than putting out to tender so that the independent sector can get involved." The note also said that "PiC are mainly involved in medium secure mental health provision. Patricia Hewitt explained that she is a paid adviser to Cinven (parent company of PiC)". Ms Hewitt told me that from this it could be seen that she made her financial interest in Cinven, the owners of PiC, absolutely clear and that "the issues raised were ones of general concern and of public interest." Ms Hewitt said that an internal Departmental investigation, carried out immediately after the "Dispatches" programme and revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request, confirmed that all relevant officials were fully aware of her role as paid consultant to PiC and that no breach of the Ministerial Code or any other impropriety had taken place.[193]

241. On my question whether PiC was her client, and, if so, what remuneration she had received from PiC or indirectly from Cinven, and for what services, Ms Hewitt said that, as published in the Register of Members' Financial Interests, she had been appointed a senior adviser to Cinven, which owned PiC, from 1 January 2008 at an annual fee of £60,000, with an expectation of around 18 days' work. The appointment had been renewed from 1 January 2009 at the same fee, with an expectation of around 16 days' work. After July 2009, in accordance with the new rules on registration, she had declared each of the quarterly payments she had received from Cinven—£15,000 plus VAT for approximately 30 hours' work over three months.

242. Ms Hewitt said that, towards the end of 2009, she had agreed with PiC that less time would be needed in the New Year, with her fee correspondingly reduced. Her final entry in the Register, published on 12 April 2010, included the payment of £6,250 plus VAT for approximately 15 hours' work between January and March 2010.

243. Ms Hewitt said that she had advised Cinven on policy-related issues, particularly in relation to healthcare and the proposed European regulation of private equity. "Without wishing to labour the point, in my view advising a reputable business as to how present its case effectively cannot conceivably be regarded as a breach of the Code of Conduct." In this context, Ms Hewitt said that the discussions relating to Cinven and PiC to which she had referred did not in any way constitute paid advocacy as prohibited by the Code of Conduct and the Resolution of the House as modified in 2002. She noted that the Guide to the Rules, quoting from the Guidelines from the Committee on Standards and Privileges, said that "advocacy is prohibited which seeks to confer benefit exclusively upon a body (or individual) outside Parliament, from which the Member has received, is receiving, or expects to receive a financial benefit".[194] Ms Hewitt said that she had never sought to "confer benefit exclusively upon a body" from which she had received a financial benefit. She said that she had declared her financial interests both publicly in the Register and privately in every relevant conversation with a Minister, a departmental official or others.

244. Ms Hewitt also replied to my observation that she had responded "Exactly" to the interviewer's statement that she had got PiC "into the system ... with a view to getting further contracts, presumably, and being able to expand their work".[195] Ms Hewitt said that she had simply been agreeing with "the obvious proposition" that if the independent sector was to be included in NHS tenders, then PiC, like other private organisations, would seek to tender for "further contracts", which would of course be entirely a matter for the NHS commissioning authorities. Ms Hewitt told me that she had not lobbied, nor would she lobby, on behalf of PiC to obtain such a contract; nor indeed have Cinven or PiC ever suggested that she should. She said that her concern, as the transcript made clear, was simply to secure a level playing field for public, private and not-for-profit sector providers, in line with government policy and her own beliefs.

245. On the question of whether she had spoken to both officials and Ministers about changing a carbon reduction regulation that helped Cinven and other private equity companies, Ms Hewitt said that, from discussions with Cinven, it had been apparent that the proposed carbon reduction regulations would impact in a discriminatory manner on companies owned by a private equity fund. In the interview with Ms Webster Ms Hewitt said that she had referred to this as "a wrinkle" and she had explained why it had appeared to be irrational and counter-productive.[196] Ms Hewitt said that she had talked to the relevant Minister, Ms Joan Ruddock MP, about this issue. Ms Hewitt said that she had begun the conversation by explaining her employment with Cinven, a private equity firm, and she had stressed that this was a point of general concern, not specific to one company. This conversation had been, she recalled, followed up by a brief exchange of e-mails.

246. In response to my question whether she had at any time been paid £3,000 a day for consultancy or other services and if so, by whom, and whether she had registered these payments, Ms Hewitt noted that from July 2009 MPs had been required to register each external payment, with details of the organisation making the payment, services provided and hours worked. She said that the payments that she had received and hours worked were therefore already a matter of public record and recorded on the Register of Members' Financial Interests. As was apparent from the transcript, the figure of about £3000 per day, which was in respect of her services to Cinven, had been arrived at on the basis of dividing the total annual fee of £60,000 by 18.

247. Ms Hewitt also attached copies of some communications which she or her legal advisers had had with the programme's producers subsequent to the interviews but before the programme was broadcast. These made similar points to the ones she was made to me.[197]

248. Ms Hewitt also answered my question whether, if any of the allegations were true, she had considered that she had an obligation to make a Register entry or declaration, or both, in respect of any financial interest that she had in these alleged activities. "I can confirm that I made a full disclosure of the details of my involvement in all the companies concerned, including details of each external payment since July 2009, in the Register of Members' [Financial] Interests."

249. Ms Hewitt said that, whilst this had been an informal meeting, she believed that everything she had said to Ms Webster had given a fair representation of work she had done.

250. Ms Hewitt also gave her responses to the questions in my letter of 2 June.[198] In answer to my question about remunerated directorships and employment at the time of the interview, and whether they had been registered in accordance with the rules, she stated that all four of her appointments—namely, non-executive director, BT Group plc; senior adviser, Cinven; special consultant, Alliance Boots; and member, Barclays Asia Pacific Advisory Committee—were properly registered in accordance with the rules. Ms Hewitt said that in respect of the first three she had been required to seek, and had duly obtained, the approval of the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

251. As to whether the relationship between Cinven and PiC, and her work involving both, had been declared to NHS managers and Department of Health officials on each occasion, she referred me to the official Departmental minute of the meeting held on 21 May 2009.[199] She said that it would be seen from this minute that she had made her financial interest in Cinven, the owners of PiC, "absolutely clear" and that the issues raised had been ones "of general concern and of public interest". She referred to the internal Departmental investigation, carried out in response to a Freedom of Information request, which had subsequently confirmed that all relevant officials "were fully aware of [Ms Hewitt's] role as paid consultant to Partnerships in Care" and that "no breach of the Ministerial Code or any other impropriety had taken place". [200]

252. Ms Hewitt said that she had declared her interest as senior adviser to Cinven at the beginning of her conversation with a Minister (Ms Joan Ruddock MP) about the effect of CRC regulations on private equity firms.

253. In response to my question whether she had helped to get a regulation removed on behalf of a company, and whether on such occasion or occasions she had declared her interest to the Minister or officials concerned,[201] Ms Hewitt said that, the transcript made clear that she did not say that she had helped to remove regulations on behalf of a company. In fact, Ms Hewitt said, Ms Webster had asked "if the Conservatives win the next election, how much will that affect the kind of advice you would be able to give the board?" Ms Hewitt said that her answer had simply dealt with that possible future situation. She was not describing any action she had taken previously.[202]

254. On the question whether it was true that she had regular lunches and coffees with civil servants, Ms Hewitt said that, about once a month, she would have lunch or coffee with such civil servants. On any such occasion, if the discussion touched on matters affecting her clients, Ms Hewitt said that she always drew attention to her interest.

255. Ms Hewitt also responded to my question as to whether she had ever taken action on behalf of a client with a view to changing a directive or legislation whilst a Member of Parliament, and if so, whether she had declared an interest.[203] She said that she was not describing any action that she had taken as a Member of Parliament. "Instead, I was indicating the most effective way in which a case could be presented with a view to changing a proposed directive or regulation. I did so specifically in response to the question raised by 'Ms Webster' about how best to change or influence various pieces of legislation that could arise 'sometime in the future' and that might have 'a massive impact on our client'." Both the question and her answer related to what might happen after she had ceased to be a Member of Parliament. Ms Hewitt also confirmed that the interview with Claire Webster had taken place on 9 March 2009.

256. In conclusion, Ms Hewitt said that she believed that she had carefully followed the Parliamentary and Ministerial Codes and guidelines, including by declaring her private interests both in the Register of Members' Financial Interests and in every relevant conversation. "I have only taken on such appointments for companies with which I am happy to be associated and that would not compromise the time needed to fulfil my Parliamentary and constituency duties. My private appointments have been approved, where appropriate, by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments."

257. The letter of 24 May 2010 from the Department of Health to a Freedom of Information applicant,[204] a copy of which was attached to Ms Hewitt's letter of 27 June 2010,[205] described an internal investigation which had been undertaken within the Department of Health relating to Ms Hewitt's interaction with the Department on behalf of PiC. The letter said that this investigation had been instigated by the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health as head of Department, and conducted by staff in his office. This had included conversations with Ministerial offices and a search of correspondence relating to Ms Hewitt and PiC. This had occurred on 22 March 2010. As part of these investigations, the letter said that policy colleagues in the Department of Health had also been contacted, and that this was also detailed in the documents.[206]

258. Also attached was a timeline of PiC's involvement in the review and the Advocacy Group, which detailed correspondence with the CBI about the best method of addressing the private provider perspective.[207] This showed that the CBI contacted Lord Bradley in February 2008 regarding involvement in the review, and that the CBI had been told on his behalf that, having been approached by several companies that provided services in this area, he would prefer not to meet each individually. The timeline noted that in May 2008 the CBI stated that they would canvas interest in CBI members and that in June 2008 the CBI confirmed that they would attend a meeting in the Department of Health along with PiC on 2 July 2008.

259. The Department's letter said that from this it had been established that the then Minister for Care Services, Mr Phil Hope MP, had held one meeting with Patricia Hewitt and PiC on 21 May 2009 to discuss high secure services and wider mental health issues.[208] The letter said that this meeting had been recorded on the register of meetings with external parties and published in the usual way. Policy officials and the Minister for Care Services had been fully aware of Patricia Hewitt's role as a paid consultant to PiC both before and during the meeting.

260. The letter said that both the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and officials from the Cabinet Office had been satisfied that there had been no improper influence on Government policy and decisions. It said that their conclusion had been that no breach of the Ministerial Code, or any other impropriety, had taken place. PiC had raised the prospect of independent sector representation with respect to the National Advisory Group being set up on the implementation of the Lord Bradley review. This was after the Written Ministerial Statement of 30 April 2009 by Rt Hon David Hanson MP, then the Minister of State for Justice, which had invited comment from all parties, and had been the only invitation made. The letter said that this had been an open invitation for expressions of interest in membership of the Advisory Group. The Department of Health's letter of 24 May explained that, to be as inclusive as possible, all applications for membership of the group, including the application from PiC, were accepted. It concluded, "In no sense, therefore, could Patricia Hewitt's involvement be said to have influenced the membership of the National Advisory Group."

261. I wrote to Ms Hewitt on 1 July, seeking her help on some matters which arose from her response of 27 June.[209] I said that I had noted her response to what she had said about the five ways to meet a Minister. I noted that sometimes she had advised businesses and other organisations in her constituency on how to make their views known, but had not been paid for this. I said that I was not sure, however, whether the implication was that she had not given advice to any of the companies or organisations which had employed her about meeting a Minister in any of these ways. I said that this had been the question I had asked in my letter of 23 March and it would be most helpful if she could either confirm that she had not done this or, if she had, what advice she had given to which of the companies employing her and whether, in any case where it was necessary, she had declared her interest to the relevant Minister or officials.

262. I said I noted from the Department's timeline released under the FOI[210] that there was no reference to her conversation or meeting with Lord Bradley, but that there was a reference to the CBI confirming that they and PiC would meet Lord Bradley, which they had done on 2 July 2008. I asked Ms Hewitt whether she had had any contacts with the CBI on these matters either before or after this meeting in relation to the Bradley review and, if so, what they had been.

263. I told Ms Hewitt that I noted that she had told the undercover reporter: "So I was able to get them, basically, in front of Bradley".[211] I asked Ms Hewitt whether that was an accurate representation of the outcome of her work in relation to the Bradley review in as much as it affected PiC.

264. In relation to the Health and Criminal Justice National Advisory Group, I noted that Ms Hewitt considered that she had not persuaded the Chairman to invite PiC to join the group, on the basis (as I understood it) that she had persuaded him that there could be an independent representative on that group and PiC had been chosen because they were the most active in the field. I said that it would appear from the evidence Ms Hewitt had given, however, that she had met the then Minister, Mr Phil Hope MP on 21 May 2009 with senior PiC representatives and DOH officials, but as far as I could see, she did not meet the Chairman of the group. I asked Ms Hewitt whether or not she had met or spoken to the Chairman as her letter implied. I also asked Ms Hewitt for a copy, if one was available, of any paper she had submitted to the Minister to follow up the 21 May meeting. [212]

265. I noted that the timeline also included with Ms Hewitt's evidence suggested that the Chief Executive of PiC had written to nominate himself to the Group and that this had subsequently been accepted by the Department.[213] I asked Ms Hewitt whether she had been aware of PiC's letters of May 2009 and 15 July 2009 in which PiC nominated itself for the "NAG" (what I presumed was a reference to the National Advisory Group) and whether she had advised PiC to write as they did.

266. Also in relation to PiC's relationship to the Advisory Group, I noted that Ms Hewitt had said to the undercover reporter that: "It's now kind of over to them because, even though I will keep a watching brief them for as long as is needed, but basically I've kind of got them into the system, where they can build the relationships, they can make the arguments."[214] I asked Ms Hewitt whether that was an accurate summary of the assistance she had given to PiC—that basically she had got them into the system.

267. On carbon reduction regulation, I asked Ms Hewitt whether she still had copies of the e-mails, to which she had referred, following up her meeting with Ms Ruddock. I also asked Ms Hewitt if she could let me know which other private health providers were owned by private equity funds.

268. I noted that Ms Hewitt had told the undercover reporter that she had spoken both to officials and Ministers about the carbon reduction regulations, and that she had identified a meeting with a Minister. I said that I saw from Ms Hewitt's letter of 27 June[215] that she had not spoken to officials. I asked her therefore to confirm that in this respect the statement that she gave the undercover reporter was inaccurate.

269. I noted that Ms Hewitt had had lunch or coffee with civil servants about once a month and that she had always drawn attention to her interests if discussions touched on matters affecting her clients. I asked Ms Hewitt, from her recollection, how often the conversation had touched on such matters and what they had been. I also asked her to identify the civil servants with whom she had had coffee or lunch and where the discussions of interest affecting her clients had taken place.

270. I wrote to Lord Bradley on 1 July, noting that Ms Hewitt had told the undercover reporter that she had been "able to get them [Partnerships in Care], basically, in front of Bradley".[216] I summarised the evidence I had received from Ms Hewitt about her contacts with Lord Bradley before he had drawn up his report, and asked Lord Bradley if he could confirm or otherwise modify Ms Hewitt's evidence to me in relation to this matter. I also asked Lord Bradley to let me know the date of Ms Hewitt's meeting or meetings with him, and whether he had in fact visited PiC or one of its services, or had had a meeting with PiC and if so, the dates.

271. I also asked Lord Bradley to confirm the sequence set out in the timeline produced by the Department of Health,[217] and whether Ms Hewitt's meeting with him had had any influence on his meeting with the CBI and PiC on 2 July 2008, and, if so, whether to the best of his knowledge it had been facilitated by Ms Hewitt.

272. Lord Bradley wrote to me on 28 July.[218] He told me that he had had one telephone conversation with Ms Hewitt about his review, on 20 May 2008, and that she had informed him that she was an adviser to PiC. He said that it had "certainly not" been the case that this telephone conversation had enabled PiC to have particular access to his independent review. Lord Bradley said that, following the announcement of his review on 4 December 2007 there had been a general call for evidence from all interested parties including the private sector. He said that a written submission had been received from PiC on 20 March 2008. His review team had also contacted the CBI on 2 May 2008 about "the best method of addressing the private providers' perspective and managing the many requests to meet the private sector." As a result, the CBI had nominated PiC to represent the private sector and he had met both organisations together on 2 July 2008. "The telephone call with Patricia Hewitt therefore had absolutely no influence on this process."

273. Lord Bradley said that he had been invited by the organisation to visit a PiC facility and contact had been made by his review team to explore possible dates, but it had not been possible to arrange such a visit before he completed his report. Lord Bradley told me: "I did not arrange a meeting with Patricia Hewitt, with or without, Partnerships in Care to discuss my review ... I can categorically state that Patricia Hewitt had absolutely no influence on the findings in my report or its recommendations."

274. I wrote to Lord Bradley on 2 August, putting to him two points on which I sought some further help.[219] I asked him whether he could recall what Ms Hewitt had said to him in their telephone conversation of 20 May 2008. In particular, I asked him either to confirm or modify Ms Hewitt's recollection of that conversation, as set out in my letter to him of 1 July.[220] I also noted that he had referred to the written submission to his inquiry from PiC of 20 March 2008, and asked Lord Bradley whether he recalled whether he had seen this submission himself before Ms Hewitt had telephoned him. I asked him whether, following the conversation, he had asked to see that submission or, if not, what arrangements had been made for the Chairman to be informed of written submissions received by the inquiry.

275. Lord Bradley wrote to me on 23 August. He said that his memory of the short telephone conversation on 20 May 2008, which had been pre-booked through his review team, was that Ms Hewitt had explained to him her view of the importance of the independent sector to his review and that they should be included in his review process. He had confirmed that the independent sector would be included, and that besides any submissions made by individual organisations, contact had been made by his review team with the CBI to determine future contact with his review. Lord Bradley told me that there had been no further discussion with Ms Hewitt after this telephone call before the publication of his report in April 2009. He told me that all written submissions had first been processed by his review team and then he had read all of them. Lord Bradley did not recall whether he had read the PiC submission before the telephone call with Ms Hewitt but he did not discuss their submission with her during the telephone conversation.

276. Meanwhile, Ms Hewitt had written to me on 15 July.[221] She commented on my statement in my letter of 1 July[222] where I referred to "the interview which [she] gave an undercover reporter..." Ms Hewitt told me that she had not in fact "given an interview". She said that the transcript of the telephone conversation between the undercover reporter and herself on 25 February[223] recorded that after explaining why the reporter had contacted her and "responding to some expression of interest on my part", the reporter had said: " I was wondering if you might want to pop to our office ... in St. James's. I don't know if you might have time to drop in there for a cup of coffee and perhaps have a chat about it and see if this is the kind of thing you might be interested in doing?"[224] Ms Hewitt said that the ensuing meeting on 9 March was "precisely that: an informal chat on the lines envisaged in that telephone conversation. You will readily appreciate that I am concerned that the context in which the meeting took place should not be misunderstood."

277. In answer to my question whether she had advised any of the companies or organisations employing her how to secure a meeting with a Minister in any of the ways which I described, Ms Hewitt said, "I have not in fact given advice along the lines described to any of the companies or organisations employing me. I am sorry if my reply to your previous question on the point did not make this clear."

278. Ms Hewitt said that she had had no contact whatsoever with the CBI either before or after her meeting with Lord Bradley in connection with his review. As to whether the words "So I was able to get them, basically, in front of Bradley" accurately represented what she had accomplished as far as PiC was concerned in relation to Lord Bradley's review, Ms Hewitt said that the words accurately summarised the position: "namely, I had drawn Lord Bradley's attention to PiC's existence and its role, and to the fact that it had submitted evidence to his committee; and I had suggested to him that it would be worth his while to pay a visit to one of its establishments."

279. Ms Hewitt then responded to my question whether she had met or spoken to the Chairman of the Health and Criminal Justice National Advisory Group, and whether she had submitted a paper to the Minister following the meeting on 21 May 2009. On the first point she noted that the Chairman of the National Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board was the Director-General for Social Care in the Department of Health. Although the Director-General had not been present at the meeting with Mr Phil Hope MP, the Minister for Social Care, on 21 May 2009, one of his officials was and the Director-General had received a copy of the minutes. "I did happen to meet [the Director-General] informally in June or July 2009 ... The first time I was aware of his appointment as Chairman was when he told me about it in the course of this purely informal discussion; I recall him saying that he was chairing the 'taskforce' that was following up Lord Bradley's recommendations. I reminded him of my interest in Cinven, the owners of Partnership in Care—something of which he was already aware—and repeated my view that I hoped the independent sector would be included in this work."

280. Ms Hewitt said that there had in fact been two separate bodies—the Programme Board (chaired by the Director-General) and the National Advisory Group, sometimes referred to as the National Advocacy Group. She said that in her discussion with the undercover reporter, she had simply had in mind "a taskforce". Ms Hewitt said that she had had no contact with the Chairman of the National Advocacy Group on this matter. Ms Hewitt said that the minutes of the Department of Health meeting on this issue on 21 May 2009 referred to a "note" of the points she had raised. She had not submitted a note or paper following the meeting.

281. Ms Hewitt referred me again to the internal Departmental investigation carried out immediately after the Dispatches programme that confirmed that all relevant officials "were fully aware of [my] role as paid consultant to Partnerships in Care" and that "no breach of the Ministerial Code or any other impropriety had taken place."[225] Every organisation that had nominated itself for the National Advisory Group, including PiC, had been appointed; Ms Hewitt said that she had neither sought nor obtained any "exclusive benefit" for PiC.

282. Ms Hewitt responded to my questions as to whether she had been aware of PiC's letters of May 2009 and 15 July 2009 in which PiC nominated itself for membership of the National Advocacy Group, and whether those letters had been written on her advice. She said that the letters had not been written on her advice, and "I cannot recall whether I actually saw either of them at the relevant time." Ms Hewitt said that at the meeting with the Minister, and in her conversation with the Director-General, she had been making the case for the inclusion of the independent sector, and not specifically PiC.

283. Ms Hewitt said that all she had in mind when she said, "...basically I've kind of got them [PiC] into the system..." was that PiC was now on the Department of Health's radar screen in relation to mental health provision.

284. Ms Hewitt said that she had not retained copies of e-mails exchanged between herself and Ms Ruddock on the issue of private equity funds and the carbon reduction regulations. Her recollection was that at the end of their brief conversation Ms. Ruddock had asked her to e-mail her summarising the issue, so that she could check the precise position. She said that Ms Ruddock had then e-mailed her explaining the change that had been made to the regulations and offering to put her in touch with relevant official(s). Ms Hewitt said that she thought she had e-mailed Ms Ruddock back, thanking her and saying that "I would like to talk to the official(s) concerned. There was no further response from her."

285. In response to my question whether she was aware of other private health providers owned by private equity funds, Ms Hewitt said that although there were many privately-owned health providers, she did not know which were specifically owned by private equity funds. "The point I was impressing on the Minister was one of general application to private equity-owned companies in all sectors and had not been raised with the private health sector in mind. There was no reason for me to mention Partnerships in Care, or the health sector, in relation to the carbon reduction regulations and I did not in fact do so."

286. Ms Hewitt said that in fact she had spoken only to the Minister about the carbon reduction regulations, but had planned to speak to officials as well. The way she had put it in her conversation with the undercover reporter had simply been a mistake.

287. In answer to my question about the frequency with which her informal conversations with civil servants over lunch or coffee touched on matters affecting her clients, Ms Hewitt quoted the response to the Freedom of Information request about her meetings at the Department of Health.[226] This had said that "policy officials ... were fully aware of [her] position as a paid consultant to Partnerships in Care". In fact she had been a paid adviser to Cinven, owners of PiC. She said that she could only recall one informal conversation with an official that had related to her financial interests and that had been her discussion with the Director-General.[227] Otherwise, these discussions had covered topics of mutual personal interest and were essentially social in nature.

288. In summary, Ms Hewitt said, "I wish to stress that I registered my financial interests publicly in the Register of Members' Interests; I drew attention to those interests in every relevant conversation with Ministers and civil servants as well as in my conversation with Lord Bradley; and I neither sought nor obtained any exclusive benefit for Partnerships in Care or any other organisation in which I had a financial interest. The Register speaks for itself; the documentary evidence provided by the Department for Health confirms the latter two points."

289. I wrote to Ms Ruddock on 15 July, describing the evidence I had received from Ms Hewitt about their meeting and asking her to comment.[228]

290. Ms Ruddock wrote to me on 26 July.[229] She said that her recollection was that Ms Hewitt had spoken to her briefly in the lobby of the House one evening and had told her that she advised a private equity company and that there were issues with the carbon reduction regulations. Ms Ruddock told me she recalled telling Ms Hewitt that she was familiar with the issues because they had received representations from private equity firms. Ms Ruddock said that Ms Hewitt had not specified any particular company and that she (Ms Ruddock) had not told her anything that was not available to anyone enquiring on that point. Ms Ruddock said she had later e-mailed Ms Hewitt from her PDA—having checked with officials that the information she had given was correct. Ms Ruddock said that her e-mail—to her recollection—simply said the information was correct and officials would be happy to talk to her/the company if she wished. Ms Hewitt had e-mailed her thanks and had said that she would contact officials. She had not asked anything further. Ms Ruddock said to me that as she was no longer the minister she did not have access to the PDA or departmental e-mail records and she could not recall dates. "However I can confirm that at no time was Partnerships in Care mentioned to me."

291. I wrote to Ms Ruddock on 28 July.[230] I said I hoped I was right in taking from her letter that she could confirm Ms Hewitt's recollection of their exchanges. I also asked Ms Ruddock to respond to two points which I had asked her about in my letter of 15 July[231]and which she had not covered. They were: the date of the conversation she had had with Ms Hewitt; and whether she had been aware from what Ms Hewitt had told her that a change in the regulations would benefit some of the companies which Cinven, the private equity company, owned. I noted that Ms Hewitt had told her that she had advised a private equity company, but I asked her whether she had taken from that that some of the companies which Cinven owned would benefit from a change in the regulations.

292. In an e-mail to me on 28 July, Ms Ruddock said that she did not recall when her conversation with Ms Hewitt had taken place and it would be necessary to find out if her former Department could trace the e-mail from her use of the departmental PDA. She did confirm Ms Hewitt's account of the conversation. Ms Hewitt's enquiry "was not significant in my mind as it related to a provision that was in the public domain and being consulted upon. I was familiar with the issue because of companies affected were regularly talking to civil servants." Ms Ruddock described as "speculative" my question whether some of the companies which Cinven owned would benefit from a change in the regulations. She told me that the official consultation had provided the basis for her to make decisions, and that she did not recall mention of any specific company names.

293. I wrote to Ms Ruddock on 28 July.[232] I noted that she could not give me any further help on either of my two questions.

294. Meanwhile, I had written to Ms Hewitt on 20 July.[233] I noted that she had said that her meeting with the undercover reporter on 9 March had been "an informal chat". I said that in the telephone conversation of 25 February,[234] the reporter had said that she had been looking "to produce a board for the UK company that can kind of advise us and our … companies" and asked whether it was "the kind of thing you might be interested in getting involved in." I noted that Ms Hewitt had said in principle yes. I said that the reporter had subsequently invited Ms Hewitt to have "a chat about it and to see if this is the kind of thing you might be interested in doing", and she had agreed to that meeting. I also said that at the meeting Ms Hewitt had set out the relevant parts of her CV, answered the reporter's questions, noted that she was interested in taking on another major board position and discussed her day rate.[235] The reporter had concluded that she would be drawing up a short list and speaking to the States and then would let Ms Hewitt know how they were going to progress the matter when someone was coming over whom they would then like her to meet. I said that it would appear on the face of it therefore that Ms Hewitt had been aware that the company were looking to employ board members when she had gone to the meeting and that the contribution she would make to the board, her experience and her fees had all been discussed in a series of questions and answers. I said that this might seem to go beyond an informal chat. Since she had raised the point, I also asked Ms Hewitt whether the meeting with the undercover reporter had followed the lines she had expected and, if not, why she had made no reference to this during the discussion.

295. I noted that Ms Hewitt had not given any of the companies who had employed her advice along the lines she had described about how to meet a Minister. I asked her, therefore, why she had set out these ways to meet a Minister in the way that she had done, on what experience her advice had been based, how she had expected her advice to be implemented and whether she had considered pointing out that she had not advised any of her current companies to adopt any of these strategies.

296. On 29 July, I wrote again to Ms Hewitt, this time to show her copies of my correspondence with Ms Joan Ruddock MP.[236] I noted that Ms Ruddock confirmed Ms Hewitt's account of their conversation. I also noted that I had sought Ms Ruddock's help on when their conversation had taken place and that she had no recollection of the timing. I asked Ms Hewitt to let me know or give me an estimate of the month and year when she recalled this conversation taking place.

297. Ms Hewitt e-mailed me on her response to my questions on 23 August.[237] She confirmed her view that her meeting with the undercover reporter had indeed been "an informal chat". She said that Ms Webster had made it clear, both in the initial telephone call and in their discussion, that she had been having exploratory discussions with a number of people before reporting back to her employer. Ms Hewitt said that she had indeed provided information about herself, "as we all do during informal conversations". Ms Hewitt also confirmed that the meeting had followed the lines she had expected. "A formal interview could only have taken place once I knew the name and nature of the company planning to employ me—information that 'Ms Webster' was not in a position to give me. As a result, I did not come away from my meeting with her feeling much clearer about whether this would turn into a serious proposition which I could then consider."

298. Ms Hewitt said she was concerned about my reference to "the interview" with "an undercover reporter" with what she said was its suggestion that this was akin to a TV interview. She said, "I am sure you will understand that I am concerned that the context in which the meeting took place should not be misunderstood."

299. Ms Hewitt reiterated her view that the meeting was an informal discussion. She said that Ms Webster had asked whether it was possible for companies to meet Ministers. "Off the top of my head and given my years of experience, I gave examples of the ways in which organisations can legitimately meet Ministers. Nothing more or less." She said that five suggestions she had made were all "normal and proper ways that any competent public affairs executive would use to approach a Minister." Ms Webster had not asked Ms Hewitt whether she had advised any of the companies she had worked for along those lines and "there was no reason for me to explain that I had not in fact done so, since we were talking about a hypothetical situation that might affect one of her employer's clients in future."

300. Ms Hewitt said that she did not remember the exact date of her conversation with Ms Ruddock on carbon reduction regulations, but it had been either late 2009 or early 2010. She noted that Ms Ruddock had confirmed her recollection of the conversation—including the fact that she had declared her interest—and said that she had nothing further to add to what Ms Ruddock had told me.

301. I wrote to Ms Hewitt on 1 September.[238] I made it clear that I had not suggested that she had given the equivalent of a television interview. I told her that I had used the word "interview" because I had been suggesting that it was a job interview, albeit at its preliminary stages. I said that while I noted that she had been unclear about whether it would turn into a serious proposition and that she did not know the name and nature of the company planning to employ her, the proposition as set out in the transcript had been that the position was to produce a board for the UK company of Anderson Perry to advise that company and their clients. I noted also that the undercover reporter had said that she would be drawing up a shortlist and that she would then let Ms Hewitt know how she was going to progress the matter, when someone from the States was coming over whom she could meet. I said that that might suggest that this was a preliminary meeting or discussion among a number of possible candidates about a job with the named company and its unnamed clients.

302. I noted that Lord Bradley confirmed that, in his telephone conversation with Ms Hewitt, she had informed him that she was an adviser to PiC, but that his evidence did not appear to concur with what Ms Hewitt had told the undercover reporter and confirmed in her letter to me of 15 July, that it was Ms Hewitt's intervention that put PiC "in front of Bradley". Lord Bradley stated that he had been invited to visit PiC by PiC itself; that he had asked the CBI to nominate a representative from the private sector; and that the review team's process meant that he read all written submissions. I noted that Lord Bradley had stated that Ms Hewitt's telephone call had "absolutely no influence" on the process for nominating a private sector provider to his review.

303. I told Ms Hewitt that in the light of Lord Bradley's evidence, it would be helpful to know whether she accepted that the statements she had made to the undercover reporter about the effect of her work in putting PiC "in front of Bradley" had been mistaken, or exaggerated, and whether she had been aware, at the time she had made the statement or subsequently, that this had been, according to Lord Bradley's evidence, an inaccurate statement of the effect of her telephone conversation with him.

304. Ms Hewitt replied to me on 13 September.[239] She reiterated that she did not in fact regard the meeting with Ms Webster as a kind of preliminary "job interview" but rather as an exploratory discussion or informal chat. In response to my specific question in regard to her dealings with Lord Bradley, she told me, "I can categorically state that there was no conscious attempt on my part to exaggerate the influence I may have had." In the context of an informal discussion, she said she was simply trying to give Ms Webster a fair representation of work she had done. "My recollection of my telephone conversation with Lord Bradley is that he was not sure whether he had in fact seen PiC's evidence before we spoke; I also mentioned the possibility of a visit to him. I did not know about Lord Bradley's interaction with the CBI, as described in his letter to you of 28 July ... until you sent me a copy of that letter. I did not ask to meet Lord Bradley myself nor did I ever suggest to 'Ms Webster' or anyone else that I had influenced Lord Bradley's findings or recommendations"

305. Ms Hewitt said that of course it was hardly surprising that after an interval of two years, recollections would differ somewhat on a single telephone call. But she noted that in relation to the Code of Conduct, Lord Bradley had confirmed both that she declared her interest in PiC and that she neither sought nor obtained any "exclusive benefit" for PiC . She said that both points had also been confirmed by the Department of Health.

FINDINGS OF FACT

306. Ms Hewitt was approached by the undercover reporter claiming to represent Anderson Perry in February 2010. During an initial telephone conversation Ms Hewitt and the reporter agreed to meet.

307. Ms Hewitt met the undercover reporter on 9 March 2010. She says that the context of her meeting with Ms Webster was her availability and interest in taking on work after she had ceased to be a Member of Parliament. Her intention to stand down from Parliament had already been announced in June 2009. Ms Hewitt says that she judged that there would be no harm in having a preliminary meeting, and decided that she would only carry out the usual due diligence on the company and its clients if anything came of the initial conversation. Ms Hewitt says that she was therefore only prepared for an informal chat when she met Ms Webster.

Issues subject to inquiry

i.  Five ways to meet a Minister

308. Ms Hewitt told the undercover reporter that it was "very do-able" to put your business clients in touch with a Minister, but "you have to be … quite careful about … how you do it".[240] She described a number of ways to do so, namely:

hospitality

supporting think tanks and seminars.

sponsorship of events at a party conference.

contacts with special advisers.

the "constituency route"

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

309. Ms Hewitt says that her five suggestions are all normal and proper ways that any competent public affairs executive would use to approach a Minister with the issue. Ms Hewitt says that as a constituency MP, she sometimes advised voluntary organisations and businesses in Leicester on how to make their views known, but that she was never paid by such an organisation for that advice. She says that she had never given such advice to any company or organisation which had retained her.

310. Ms Hewitt says that she was always very conscious of the need to be careful herself if she was approaching a Minister on an issue where she had a financial interest, in particular by declaring her interest immediately and ensuring that she was not seeking to benefit only one organisation.

ii.  Removing a regulation

311. When Ms Webster asked "if the Conservatives win the next election, how much will that affect the kind of advice you would be able to give the board?"[241] Ms Hewitt responded "if you've got a client who needs a particular regulation removed, then we can often package that up in a way that will give the Minister a win, and with a new Government, committed to less regulation, that's an attractive argument to make." [242]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

312. Ms Hewitt says that she did not say that she had helped to remove regulations on behalf of a company. She says her answer simply dealt with a possible future situation following a Conservative victory at the next election: she was not describing any action she had taken previously.

iii.  Changes to directives or legislation

313. The undercover reporter asked, in respect of legislation that would have a massive impact on a client, sometime in the future, how easy it would be to talk to people "to try to either change it or influence in some way".[243]Ms Hewitt is quoted as replying, "Well, at one level ... it's easy to do but you have to put a lot of effort into it."[244]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

314. Ms Hewitt says that she was not describing any action that she had taken as a Member of Parliament. Both the question and her answer related to what might happen after she had ceased to be a Member of Parliament.

iv.  Contacts with civil servants

315. Ms Hewitt said, in response to the undercover reporter's question whether it was easy to get meetings with civil servants and speak to them on behalf of a client, that she made a point of "being in touch" and, that "you need just to have a sort of eye to propriety and all of that … But I mean I have regular lunches and coffees and you know we're all mates really."[245]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

316. Ms Hewitt says that about once a month, she would have lunch or coffee with such civil servants. She only once discussed a matter in which he had a registered interest (Cinven and PiC) and she declared that interest. She put her case on behalf of the whole sector and not exclusively for her client.

PiC and the Bradley Report

v.  Putting PiC "in front of" the Bradley inquiry

317. Ms Hewitt told the undercover reporter that she put PiC "in front of" those working on the Bradley inquiry into mental health in prisons, enabling PiC to give evidence to that inquiry and encouraging Lord Bradley to visit one of PiC's establishments.[246]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

318. Ms Hewitt says that she had a telephone conversation with Lord Bradley regarding his Inquiry into the treatment of prisoners with mental health problems, before he drew up his report. The telephone conversation took place on 20 May 2008. Ms Hewitt says that when she spoke to Lord Bradley she made it absolutely clear that she worked as an adviser to Cinven, the owners of PiC, and that PiC was an excellent provider of specialist mental health services, funded by the NHS. She says that she explained to Lord Bradley why she felt that the independent sector could make a valuable contribution to his Inquiry and suggested that he should meet or visit PiC so that he could see their work for himself.

319. Lord Bradley confirms that, when she spoke to him, Ms Hewitt stated that she was an adviser to PiC. Lord Bradley also says that he can categorically state that Ms Hewitt had "absolutely no influence" on the findings in his report or its recommendations.

vi.  Getting PiC "into the system"

320. Ms Hewitt responded, "Exactly",[247] to the undercover reporter's statement that she had got PiC "into the system … with a view to getting further contracts, presumably, and being able to expand their work."[248] Ms Hewitt also said, "It's now kind of over to them because, even though I will keep a watching brief them for as long as is needed, but basically I've kind of got them into the system, where they can build the relationships, they can make the arguments."

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

321. Ms Hewitt says that she was simply agreeing with the obvious proposition that if the independent sector was to be included in NHS tenders, then PiC, like other private organisations, would seek to tender for "further contracts".[249] She says that she has not lobbied, nor would she lobby, on behalf of PiC to obtain such a contract; nor have Cinven or PiC ever suggested that she should. Ms Hewitt says that her concern was simply to secure a level playing field for public, private and not-for-profit sector providers, in line with government policy and her own beliefs. She says that all she had in mind was that PiC was now on the Department of Health's radar screen in relation to mental health provision.

322. An internal investigation held by the Department of Health in March 2010 concluded that all relevant officials were fully aware of Ms Hewitt's role as paid consultant to Partnerships in Care and that no breach of the Ministerial Code or any other impropriety had taken place.

vii.  Enabling PiC to join an Advisory Group

323. Ms Hewitt told the undercover reporter that she had been able to "persuade the chairman of [a group involved with implementing Lord Bradley's report on health and criminal justice] that there would be a private sector, independent sector, representative on the taskforce and because Partnerships in Care had been most active, it was their person who was put on the task force."[250]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy.

324. Ms Hewitt says that she did not claim to Ms Webster to have persuaded the Chairman of the Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board to invite PiC to join the separate National Advisory Group which had been established as part of the Department's follow-up to the Bradley report. Ms Hewitt believes that she made her financial interest in Cinven, the owners of PiC, absolutely clear in the discussion she had with the Chairman of the Programme Board and that the issues raised were ones of general concern and of public interest. Ms Hewitt says that she was not aware that PiC nominated itself for membership of the Group in May and July 2009, and that those letters were not written on her advice.

325. The Departmental internal investigation concluded that Ms Hewitt's involvement could in no sense be said to have influenced the membership of the National Advisory Group.

viii.  Carbon reduction

326. Ms Hewitt told the undercover reporter, in relation to the carbon reduction regulation that would have the effect of disadvantaging private equity firms, that "unfortunately, private equity people have come to this rather late in the day, so they've only quite recently even started talking to me about it ... we've achieved one thing, which is to say, if there's a larger company within a private equity portfolio that if it were freestanding would be registered anyway, that's fine, they can register in their own right ... "[251]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

327. Ms Hewitt says that from discussions with Cinven it was apparent that the proposed carbon reduction regulations would impact in a discriminatory manner on companies owned by a private equity fund. She says that she talked to the relevant Minister (Joan Ruddock MP) about this issue, explaining her employment with Cinven, and stressed that this was a point of general concern, not specific to one company. Neither she nor Ms Ruddock can recall the date of this conversation.

328. The evidence of Mrs Joan Ruddock MP, then the relevant Minister, is that Ms Hewitt spoke to her briefly about the CRC issue, informing her that she advised a private equity company, without mentioning PiC or any other specific company.

xv.  Receiving £3,000 a day in payments from clients

329. Ms Hewitt told the undercover reporter that she was paid by Cinven £60,000 for 18 days a year, "in day rate terms it was a bit over three thousand."

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

330. Ms Hewitt says that the payments that she received and hours worked are already a matter of public record and recorded on the Register of Members' Financial Interests. The figure of about £3000 per day in respect of her services to Cinven was arrived at on the basis of dividing her total annual fee of £60,000 by 18.


RT HON GEOFF HOON: MY INQUIRIES

331. I wrote to Mr Hoon on 23 March.[252] I asked him to give me a full account of the circumstances in which he had come to be interviewed by someone who turned out to be a journalist. I also asked Mr Hoon to confirm that during the interview he had said that :

  • he was looking forward to translating his knowledge and contacts around the international scene into something that "bluntly, makes money"; [253] and if that was true, the nature of the knowledge and contacts Mr Hoon had in mind;
  • he had been offered a chairmanship of a foreign defence firm for "an embarrassing amount of money";[254] and if true, whether he had consulted the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) about this appointment;
  • he was quite happy to give strategic advice and "in the right circumstances" he did not mind leading a delegation in to see a Minister;[255] and if true, the circumstances he had in mind;
  • if a former Minister asked to see the defence Minister he did not think there would be any difficulty;[256] and if true, what benefit Mr Hoon believed he would confer on those using his services;
  • Mr Hoon continued to see people in the Ministry of Defence and that they briefed him on the defence review;[257] and if that was true, whether he accepted that he had linked this statement to his agreeing with the interviewer that he could give a steer on defence policy which would help clients with what they were bidding for,[258] and whether he had declared his financial interests to the Ministry of Defence;
  • he had had a meeting with a private equity fund in the USA and agreed to give them "a fairly accurate account of what's going on" in terms of the [NATO] defence policy which he was developing, and that he had subsequently referred to talking to these firms about buying market share in Europe.[259] I asked him, if that was true, what these funds had paid or proposed to pay for this service; and whether Mr Hoon had registered any payments in the Register of Members' Financial Interests;
  • his rate for consultancy or similar services was £3,000 a day;[260] and if true, whether he had provided any such remunerated services for that or any other rate and, if so, whether he had registered the payments in the Register of Members' Financial Interests.

332. I also asked Mr Hoon to confirm what subsequent communications he or his legal advisers had had with the reporters; whether, if any of the allegations were true, he considered he had an obligation to make a Register entry or declaration, or both; and if any of what Mr Hoon had said had been untrue, why he had spoken as he had done. Finally, I told Mr Hoon that I was writing to the Channel 4 programme makers to invite them to let me have any unbroadcast parts of his interview.

333. Mr Hoon replied on 30 March.[261] He said that he had been approached, initially through his parliamentary office, by an undercover reporter, supposedly on behalf of a US communications company named Anderson Perry Associates, which the reporter had said had recently set up a UK office and had clients looking to expand their operations in the UK and Europe. He enclosed a copy of her e-mail, in which she had invited him to visit their offices for what she described as "an informal chat".[262] Mr Hoon said that the e-mail provided a link to a high quality website which he had examined; and that the telephone for both their office in the United States and an address in London was professionally answered. "After speaking to Claire Webster an appointment was made for me to have what Vera Productions and Channel 4 later described as 'a preliminary meeting where nothing was agreed or committed to' on 3rd March 2010".

334. Mr Hoon said that he had decided some time before these events that he would be leaving the House of Commons before the next election, and had announced this on 10 February 2010.

335. Mr Hoon said that his lawyers had produced a transcript of the Channel 4 programme as it applied to him, and that he had seen copies of material that appeared in the Sunday Times on 20 March. Mr Hoon said, "Despite a series of requests neither Channel 4 nor the Sunday Times were willing to provide a full account of the allegations they were proposing to make. I have not seen a full transcript of my interview."

336. Mr Hoon said that in his lawyer's response he had sought to put the nature of the interview with the undercover reporter into context. He said that he had made clear that nothing he said referred to his current position as a Member of Parliament. He had assumed that in his own time it would be permissible to participate in a general and private conversation about possible opportunities arising after the Dissolution of the House. He acknowledged that there was "an element of exaggeration and immodesty" in his remarks as he sought to achieve a favourable outcome.

337. Mr Hoon said that when he had referred to using his knowledge and contacts around the international scene, he was referring to the fact that over the past 25 years he had developed a good understanding of how international organisations operate. "I was a Member of the European Parliament for 10 years. I have held Ministerial positions in Defence and the Foreign Office. I have in the last six months been engaged in voluntary unpaid work on behalf of the NATO Secretary-General." Mr Hoon went on to say that he had been led to believe that such experience might be of use in the commercial world and that, like many people who had left public life, he might secure a position providing strategic advice through the kind of advisory board that was being described. He had specifically referred to his ambition to give strategic advice. Mr Hoon added that he did not have any specific contacts in mind because "individuals move from one job to another fairly quickly and what is useful is to have an overall understanding of how international organisations work".

338. Mr Hoon said that the "embarrassing amount of money" he had said he had been offered was a figure suggested by a head hunter as being the likely amount on offer from an overseas company. He said that although the head hunter had led him to believe that this offer was to be made shortly it had not so far materialised. In those circumstances he had not yet contacted ACOBA. He would expect to do so only if he had a firm offer of an appointment or employment from the company itself. Mr Hoon said that he had spoken to ACOBA and the person concerned had confirmed that this was the correct approach.

339. Mr Hoon said that since his understanding of what was being discussed was a position on an advisory board and since he had no ambition to be involved in lobbying, he had made clear that he did not want to be "some sort of lobbyist". He continued, "I know however from my own experience of Ministerial life that there could be times when a director or a chairman of a company would meet a Minister. I indicated that 'in the right circumstances' I would be willing to help to arrange that, although I added , 'but that's not what I want to spend my life doing', indicating that I thought this would be exceptional."

340. Mr Hoon regretted that his suggestion that a former Minister might ask to see the Defence Minister "was no more than my showing off and trying to impress". He continued, "It is likely that as a former Secretary of Defence I could get to meet with whoever happened to be in the position at the time but I would have to put forward a reason and I do not believe that could be based on any kind of representation of a third party—unless that was in itself for legitimate reasons unconnected with my former position. My comment would not therefore confer any benefit on anyone considering employing me."

341. Mr Hoon said that the reference to giving a private equity fund a "fairly accurate account" [263]of the direction of defence policy was in relation to the voluntary unpaid work that he was doing on behalf of NATO to advise the Secretary General about the new strategic concept. He had been nominated to serve in an independent capacity and the only briefings he had had were in relation to the British Government's views on this. Mr Hoon added that this was a public process, based around a series of seminars in different NATO member states, which would conclude with the publication in early May of a document that would be available to everyone. He continued, "I was simply trying to demonstrate that I retained a continuing interest in and knowledge of defence policy. I was not in any way seeking to trade on knowledge or information that was obtained confidentially." Mr Hoon said that, as a result, he could "give a steer on defence policy" but only as a result of his own personal knowledge, experience and reading.

342. Mr Hoon said that he did not have any financial interests that would need to be declared to anyone at the Ministry of Defence. As an MP he would have to declare any outside financial interests in the Register of Members' Financial Interests, and he had none.

343. Mr Hoon said that the meeting with a private equity firm had been in the United Kingdom with a UK based fund and had taken place on the morning of the interview. He had been referring to the relationship between overall NATO policy and the national defence policy of member states. Mr Hoon commented, "I do have my own thoughts and ideas about what this might mean for companies involved in defence which is why I indicated that I might be going back after standing down as an MP to talk about it. I have not received any payment for offering to do this nor have I discussed any particular amount of money for doing so in the future."

344. Mr Hoon said that the only work that he had been offered was for one day, some weeks after the Dissolution of the House. He enclosed copies of the correspondence that he and his legal advisers had had with Vera Productions, Channel 4 and the Sunday Times.[264] He said that, for the reasons he had set out, he did not believe that he had any obligation to make a Register entry or declaration or both in respect of these alleged activities because no financial or other interests arose.

345. Mr Hoon concluded by saying that he had been deceived about the nature of his likely involvement with the fictitious company. He had been advised that he should be thinking about joining advisory or other company boards once he stepped down as a Member of Parliament. This is what he thought he was being approached about. "The initial questioning was however designed to elicit my interest in lobbying. When I made clear that I was not interested in work as a lobbyist I assumed that I was being asked about work on behalf of the proposed advisory board. I was however still being asked, probably scripted, questions designed to elicit my willingness to engage in what could with appropriate editing and commentary subsequently be described by Channel 4 and the Sunday Times as lobbying."

346. I replied to Mr Hoon on 31 March.[265] I asked him if he could confirm the date of his interview with the reporter. I also noted that he had said in his letter that the private equity firm he said he had met was a UK-based fund, but in his interview he had said that he was "… talking … to American private equity firms …" I asked Mr Hoon if these talks were different to those he had had with the UK private equity fund on the day of the interview and, if so, if he had spoken to them in the same way as to the UK fund and offered them a briefing on the relationship between overall NATO policy and the national defence policy of member states; and whether it was made clear that he would be charging for those briefings.

347. Mr Hoon replied on 6 April.[266] He said that he was confident that the secretly recorded meeting took place on 3 March 2010. He said that Vera Productions suggested that it was 23 February in their letter to him of 15 March 2010[267] and he appeared to have adopted that date in his reply to them. Mr Hoon confirmed that he had had "meetings with two 'American private equity firms' in London and a second meeting with one of them in Washington". He commented, "To the extent that it is relevant both maintain separate European operations. I do not recall offering either of them a briefing but we would have discussed defence policy in general terms. There was no discussion about fees in the course of these meetings."

348. I did not continue my inquiries during the Dissolution of the House. On the assembly of the new Parliament on 18 May, I resumed my inquiry. On 27 May I received the certified transcripts of Mr Hoon's conversations with the undercover reporter. I wrote to Mr Hoon on 2 June, attaching the transcripts.[268] I noted that in the transcript he was quoted as saying said that he might well go and talk to some people in a private equity company about Europe including "defence policy more generally which is what I have been doing across the road … I might well go and spend a day with them and they might pay me a fee …"[269] I asked Mr Hoon whether it would be reasonable to conclude from this that, when he was a Member of Parliament, he had received a fee for briefing a private equity company on the work he was then doing on defence policy, namely (as I understood it) the NATO review. If so, I asked Mr Hoon what had been the nature of that briefing, and whether the fee had been at a level which required him to register it in the Register of Members' Financial Interests.

349. I noted that in the transcript Mr Hoon had referred to various possible job opportunities. I asked him whether any of these had materialised while he had been a Member of Parliament, whether any had since materialised, and if so, whether any had required him to draw on his Ministerial experience, particularly in defence. I also noted that in the transcript he had said, in relation to work with NATO, that, "in a sense I'm devising, I'm developing this policy so they [the private equity fund] will get a fairly accurate account of what is going on."[270] I said that I was having some difficulty in reconciling that with the point in his letter to me of 30 March when he had said that the advice to the Secretary General about the new strategic concept was a public process, based around a series of seminars in different NATO member states.[271] I asked Mr Hoon whether he had been in any sense exaggerating his role in explaining it to the reporter.

350. I said that in the transcript Mr Hoon was quoted as saying that he had been seeing officials in the MOD since "they're both advising me as to what the Government position is but also working separately on the … Defence Review."[272] I recalled that I had asked him about his contacts with people in the MOD in my letter to him of 23 March,[273] and that in his response of 30 March,[274] he had said that "The only information I have about the Defence Review is from publicly available sources such as the recent Green Paper." I asked Mr Hoon whether he had in fact had any discussions with MOD officials, either about the NATO work, the Defence Review or any other matter. I asked him, if so, whether he thought it necessary to declare his interest, in particular in his proposed work for the private equity fund.

351. I also noted that Mr Hoon had said, apparently referring to a document in his coat pocket, "… this is hot from the press, I've just got this from Washington. But it's the kind of thing that, I think if you had one or more defence clients who really wanted to kind of understand where things are going, then I'd be very happy to come and present that."[275] I asked him to describe the nature of the document to which he had referred, who had produced it and whether it had been provided to him in confidence.

352. I then said that in his interview on the BBC Radio Four "Today" programme on 26 March, Mr Hoon had said, "I certainly got it wrong … I should not have said some of the things I did say … I was guilty of showing off … I was trying to impress and demonstrate my knowledge and experience and background ..." [276] I asked Mr Hoon why he believed he had got it wrong and, in particular, the points which he should not have said, and why.

353. Mr Hoon replied to me in a letter which I received on 8 June.[277] He said that he had made clear in his previous letter to me[278] that his conversation with the undercover reporter dealt only with his plans for when he had left Parliament. Mr Hoon said that the full transcript bore this out. He said he referred to "the beginning of May for the start of my new life" and "even after a determined effort by the undercover reporter to ask me about my earlier availability", he had said that he could do April "because I think parliament will be dissolved at the beginning of April".

354. Mr Hoon said that "... I gave no briefings to a private equity company whilst an MP and I have given none since. I have received no fees from any private equity company as an MP or since. No question of registration therefore arises ..." He told me that in case there was any confusion about the reference to a briefing "across the road", this had been a lunch organised by the Latvian Ambassador for other Ambassadors from Scandinavia and the Baltic States at the Travellers' Club on Pall Mall at which he (Mr Hoon) had discussed the work of the NATO Group of Experts of which he was then a member. Mr Hoon told me that no fee for this had been asked for or offered, nor would he have expected in such circumstances to receive one.

355. Mr Hoon said that he had, by the date of the meeting with the undercover reporter, indicated to his constituents his intention of standing down at the General Election. "I received no job offers whilst still a Member of Parliament and I have received none to date." Mr Hoon said that it was of course possible that he could be offered a position in the future that could draw on his Ministerial experience in defence, although he noted that he had left the Ministry of Defence in May 2005. Mr Hoon said he would expect to comply fully with the rules relating to Ministerial appointments.

356. Mr Hoon said that the description of the work of the NATO Group of Experts that he had given in his previous letter was accurate. This had been a public process based around a series of seminars and a public consultation exercise, and the conclusions had recently been published. He said his reference in the transcript to "devising" and "developing" this policy was a reference to his then role as a member of the Group expecting to play a part in the final drafting of the Group's report. Mr Hoon said that in fact he had stood down from the Group before the final report was completed. The report of the Group of Experts was designed to inform the NATO Secretary General's drafting of a new Strategic Concept, a process that would take many more months to complete. Hence the reference in what he was saying to providing "a fairly accurate account of what is going on". Mr Hoon said that given that the Group's conclusions had always been intended for publication he had been doing "no more than indicating my ability to provide informed comment on material that was, and was going to be, publicly available."

357. He said that he had received several briefings from a mixed group of Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office officials regarding what the British Government wanted to see in the report of the Group of Experts. He said he had been appointed to the Group in an independent capacity but "I was obviously interested in the views of the British Government. I received briefings from officials from other governments as well. All of those briefings were concerned only with the work of the NATO Group of Experts."

358. Mr Hoon said that he did not understand my reference to any declaration of interest in relation to the private equity fund. He had done no work of that kind and did not believe that any question of declaration arose. Mr Hoon said that the document in his coat pocket which he had told the reporter "we are working on now"[279] was the near final version of an academic paper that he had helped to write with academics from the Washington National Defense University about NATO defence capabilities. He said that it had been written for publication and provided a web address for it. The paper was to be the basis for that section of the Experts report dealing with NATO capabilities, again showing the public nature of the process. "Given that I had helped to write the paper it was obviously not supplied in confidence."

359. On the issue of his comments in the Today programme interview on 26 March, Mr Hoon said that the reference to getting it wrong was his failure to detect that "I was being set up by media organisations prepared to go to considerable lengths to entrap me and others into making private comments that could then be presented publicly to our detriment. "

360. Mr Hoon said that he accepted that he had made a number of comments in the course of the secretly recorded interview, during what he had assumed to be a private conversation, that "appear crass and embarrassing when published." He said that unfortunately that would probably be true of many private conversations if they were published in the same way. He had not been suggesting in the "Today" interview that he believed that he had broken any relevant rules. The reason for making such comments had been as set out in the Today interview, that he was "trying to impress".

361. I wrote to Mr Hoon on 29 June.[280] I noted that he had asked me why I had referred, in my letter of 2 June,[281] to the possibility of his declaring his interest, in particular in his proposed work for the private equity fund, in any discussions he had with MoD officials. I told Mr Hoon that I had asked this because the declaration rules extended beyond a requirement to declare matters registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I drew his attention to Paragraph 73 of the 2009 Edition of the Guide to the Rules.[282]

362. I said that the question I was asking Mr Hoon was whether his possible work for private equity firms—or indeed his chairmanship of a defence company—amounted to relevant interests which he was expecting to have at the time when he had had his discussions with MoD and other officials. I asked him to confirm whether, when he had had these briefings, he had had a reasonable expectation of a future financial benefit on account of his understanding of the Government and NATO's defence policy. I said that if he considered that he did not have such an expectation, it would be helpful if he could explain the purpose of these contacts with private equity firms or the FTSE 100 company.[283]

363. On 2 July Mr Hoon wrote to me, saying that it appeared from my most recent letter[284] that he had not properly explained the nature of the meetings that I was examining.[285] He said that the meetings with the private equity firm had been arranged by a recruitment advisor and were necessarily introductory in nature. Mr Hoon said that he had not met any of the people before, and they had not previously met him. He said there had been no follow up from these introductory meetings to date and at this stage he did not expect there to be any. Mr Hoon said that "the words of Paragraph 73 of the Guide to the Rules, which you quote in your letter, properly capture what took place, in that I had a vague hope or aspiration that such a meeting might lead in the future to some sort of employment but it was well short of anything that could be described as a reasonable expectation of a financial benefit." The language that he had used was "clearly aspirational" and had not led to anything specific.

364. Mr Hoon said that he was also concerned that he had failed to explain properly to me the nature of his meetings with MOD and FCO officials. He said that he recognised that normally when an MP goes to a government department for a briefing he or she derives some benefit from the information received, that could in relevant circumstances require the MP to make an appropriate declaration, particularly where in terms of Paragraph 73 "a Member is...making representations to a Minister". He said that it was important to note however that in the course of these meetings he had not been making representations either to Ministers or to officials. These meetings with officials had not been arranged for his benefit, nor even at his request. They had been arranged for the benefit of the British Government. Mr Hoon said he had been asked as a member of the NATO Group of Experts, by those same officials, if he would be willing to attend two or three meetings to listen to their views as to what the draft strategic concept should contain as the process evolved. Mr Hoon said that this had been an opportunity for the officials to set out what the British Government would like to see emerge from the process of discussion and consultation; they had been making representations to him. He had had similar meetings with representatives of other NATO governments. "I cannot imagine circumstances in which I would reveal the content of those meetings to others—even to other members of the Group of Experts. The officials obviously wished to influence my thinking. I was not in any way trying to influence theirs; hence my previous puzzlement about declarations of interest."

365. Mr Hoon said that he hoped that this made unnecessary my question about whether he had a reasonable expectation of a future financial benefit on account of his understanding of the Government and NATO's defence policy. He said that that the officials had not been explaining either the Government's or NATO's defence policy to him. They had been setting out what they wanted to see from a process in which he had played a part. "I cannot think of anything that I learned from officials during those meetings that had any kind of commercial or financial value."

366. In any event, Mr Hoon said, at the time he had had no sufficiently tangible future financial benefit within the terms of Paragraph 73 to require any declaration.[286] No specific offers had been made to him at the time; only very general questions of financial benefit had been discussed referring to what other people earned in comparable positions. He had been aware of prospects, as he had said in the transcript. He said he had indicated to the undercover reporter that "the most likely thing is some sort of Chairmanship...that would be probably 3 or 4 days a month".[287]The vagueness of his explanation showed that nothing had at that stage been decided or any offer made. He had gone on to say "...it's not quite a done deal but it's pretty close". [288] Mr Hoon said that that had proved to be "over-optimistic" on his part as no such offer had to date materialised, "although for the sake of completeness I am still in contact with the company in question." He said that exactly the same could be said about his reference to a FTSE 100 company; he had at the time of the interview hoped to go on the board but given that the company in question was subject at the time to a takeover, as he had made clear to the undercover reporter, he knew that this was no more than an aspiration and might not in any event be possible. Mr Hoon said that the takeover had been successful and this company would in due course no longer exist and neither would its board. He said that he had had no contact whatsoever with the new company.

367. I wrote to Mr Hoon on 6 July.[289] I said that I recognised that the meetings with MOD and FCO officials had been to enable them to brief him on their views on what should be contained in the draft strategic concept which the NATO Group of Experts, of which he was a member, had been preparing. I said that while I recognised the distinction he was making—that they had been seeking to influence him, not the other way round—there nevertheless remained a question which I might need to address as to whether he should have let them know that he had (in terms of paragraph 73 of the Guide to the Rules) a reasonable expectation of personal financial advantage deriving directly or indirectly from his work on the NATO Group of Experts and, indeed, from his knowledge of what the British Government wanted to see in terms of a draft strategic concept for NATO. I said that I took it from his response that, even if there were such an obligation, it had fallen because, at that stage, he did not believe that he had a reasonable expectation of personal financial advantage, because his possible job offers had not reached a sufficiently advanced stage to justify such an expectation. I asked him to confirm or modify my understanding of his evidence on this point.

368. I said that the second issue, therefore, was whether in his interview with the undercover reporter he had given the interviewer an unreasonable impression that he had expected to be employed by particular companies in a way which would have allowed him to make use of the information available to him, either as a member of the NATO Experts Group or arising from his discussions with Government officials. I said I would need to resolve whether it was within the Code of Conduct for him to offer to brief the clients of the fake company on the relationship between NATO and national defence policy, given his statement that he was devising and developing "this policy", by which he had told me he had meant the report of the NATO Group of Experts, and his statement that he knew "some people on the team in the MoD who are working on this, because they brief me about it."[290] I noted that this statement had followed the interviewer's question about whether Mr Hoon could give a steer on where defence policy was going. It had also followed Mr Hoon's subsequent statement that the people he was seeing had been advising him about the Government position (in the context of his NATO work), but that they had also been working separately on the Defence Review.

369. I told Mr Hoon that I would need to come to a view on whether it was likely that he had been receiving any briefing on the Defence Review; and, if not, whether he had given the impression to the interviewer that his contacts with these officials on NATO had given him some insight into the Defence Review which he could share with their clients and, if so, whether that had been a misleading or exaggerated impression.

370. In respect of Mr Hoon's future job offers, I noted that in the transcript he had referred to a possible job with a US investment bank, where he had said that: "They want to kind of build a business around me, they want to expand into Europe."[291] I said that I assumed that nothing had in fact come of this offer, but I asked Mr Hoon whether it had been an exaggeration to suggest that the investment bank was planning to build its European business around him, in the terms in which he had subsequently explained that he would be acting as a figurehead chairman.

371. Mr Hoon wrote to me on 9 July, saying that he was grateful for my recognition that the meetings with MOD and FCO officials had been "at their behest" and that they had been seeking to influence his views.[292] He said that he still had some difficulty as a result in understanding how any question of declaration within Paragraph 73 of the Guide to the Rules could arise.[293] He said that unless he had misunderstood the requirement of the paragraph, and the rules on which it was based, there was an assumption that the Member was doing something to trigger the obligation to disclose; "debating legislation or making representations to a Minister".[294] He said he had been listening to the views of officials as they sought to explain the British Government's views.

372. Mr Hoon said that there was "one very pedantic point which arises from this for which I apologise but it is worth making." He said that he had not been appointed to the Group of Experts as a Member of Parliament. "I was in fact the only member of the group to hold elected office; all of the others were appointed officials or Ministers. I did not attend the meetings with MOD and FCO officials as a Member of Parliament therefore. I voluntarily gave up a great deal of my free time to do this work."

373. He said that he had made clear in his letter of 2 July[295] that anything said by officials regarding the British Government's position had been strictly confidential. Mr Hoon said that it was also difficult to see how the views of the British Government about a draft document that was likely subsequently to be amended by the NATO Secretary-General and Member States and then might or might not be put into practice could have any financial value.

374. Mr Hoon confirmed that, at the time and since, he had "no reasonable expectation of financial advantage arising out of these meetings." That remained the position to date. He said he did not anticipate that that would change. He also noted that I had referred in my letter of 6 July[296] to "possible job offers". He said that, as he had made clear in his last letter to me, there had been no specific job offers, certainly none that could be described as "tangible" or creating "a reasonable expectation that a financial benefit will accrue".

375. Mr Hoon said that the full transcript showed that he was interested in providing "strategic advice", "the sort of practical understanding of how Government here and probably how Government in Brussels works", "the advisory part". He said that it was also clear from the interview that he had only been referring to the time when he had stood down from the House of Commons and was no longer a Member of Parliament. He said that he was "having some difficulty in understanding why the second sentence in Article Two of the Code of Conduct does not apply since I only referred to a time when I would be a private citizen."[297]

376. Mr Hoon said that the transcript made clear that in his meeting with the undercover reporter he had been referring to being able to brief a client on strategic issues. He quoted from the transcript, noting that he had said that a private equity fund had asked him to talk to them: "About the relationship, if you like between NATO at the higher level and National Defence Policy, which is the strategic defence review, one down, and how it actually all fits together."[298] He said that he would be able to give such a briefing "because of my general knowledge and understanding of defence policy accumulated over many years of working in the area. At no stage was I given any specific briefing about progress in the Defence Review."

377. Mr Hoon said he recognised that the quotation I had set out from the transcript seemed to contradict this. He said that he had been asked by the undercover reporter whether "after the election" he could give "a steer" about where "defence policy is going".[299] He had said that he could, "in my own mind referring to the general understanding of defence policy that I had developed over the years." He had gone on to say that "I know some people on the team in the MOD who are working on this, because they brief me about. Because I mean I'm, I'm doing this NATO work as, as Geoff Hoon, not as a representative of the Government, but obviously the Government are quite interested in, in what I'm doing".[300] He noted that I had quoted from "the material originally supplied by Channel 4 which includes the word 'it' at the end of the first sentence."[301] He said that the word did not appear in the transcript that had been supplied by the Solicitor. He said he was unfortunately currently unable to gain access to the actual recording to establish which was the correct version.

378. Mr Hoon asked me "to accept that at no stage have I ever been briefed by officials from the MOD about the Defence Review. If necessary I am sure that they could verify this as a fact." He said that it could not be a matter of opinion or view. Whether or not he had used the word "it", the context showed that he was referring to the "NATO work". He said that he went on to state during the meeting with the undercover reporter "So I do see them. So, so some of the people I ... see are doing both, they're both advising me as to what the Government position is but also working separately on the ... defence review."[302] He had gone on to say to the undercover reporter that in respect of her bogus clients "if you want to give them practical advice, I think the best you could say at the moment is what I've just said to you, one, look at the Green Paper....",[303] which was of course a publicly available document.

379. As to the prospect of work with a US Investment bank, Mr Hoon said nothing had come of this. The Bank had discussed with him the idea of working with a banking expert to develop their European business. "I would have been a figurehead in the sense that I would have been the Chairman and would have led the business. There was no suggestion that I would have been doing any more or any less than the Chairman of any other company ... Once again this would only have been once I stopped being a Member of Parliament."

380. I wrote to Mr Hoon on 13 July.[304] I noted that he had made a number of points relating to the interpretation of the Code of Conduct and the Guide to the Rules and said that these give rise to some further considerations. In particular, I said it could be taken from his letter that he was arguing that the Code of Conduct did not apply to him at the time of his interview, either because he had been discussing only matters which related to his activities once he was no longer a Member of Parliament, or (in relation to his work on the NATO experts group) because the work was purely personal and had nothing to do with his being a Member of Parliament. I told Mr Hoon that, to make the latter argument, he would need to address the first sentence of paragraph 2 of the Code, which stated: "The Code applies to Members in all aspects of their public life."

381. I said that I understood that Mr Hoon was also arguing that he had been under no obligation to declare an interest (even if he had had one) because he had neither been debating legislation, nor making representations to a Minister (as referred to in paragraph 73 of the Guide to the Rules).[305] I noted the sentence which he had quoted started with the words: "where, for example," which might suggest this was not meant to be a comprehensive description of the obligation on declaration set out in the Guide to the Rules.[306] On the face of it, therefore, I told Mr Hoon that it would be necessary for him to argue that the briefing meetings he had had with MOD and FCO officials were not "communications" within the terms of the resolution of the House of May 1974.[307]

382. I said that I might, therefore, need to address both of these issues of interpretation in the conclusions on this inquiry. I also said that there was an additional point about interpretation which he had raised, namely the omission of the word "it" in the certified transcript, that word having been included in the transcript of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme which had been produced by his lawyers and which he had enclosed with his letter to me of 30 March.[308] As a general rule, I said that the evidence should be based on the certified transcript. But I said I would be content to add the word "it" if he would like me to do so. I asked him to let me know if he considered the omission of the word material.[309]

383. I said that I would take account of his responses and of his earlier points in coming to a view, among other matters, on whether he gave the interviewer an unreasonable or misleading impression that, in order to provide briefings to private companies, he was prepared to draw on information available to him from his work with NATO and his briefings from the MOD and FCO officials. I said that in relation to the possible job with a US investment bank, in the light of what he had said, I would need to come to a view on whether his statement that the bank wanted "to build a business around me" was an exaggeration.

384. Mr Hoon replied to me on 16 July.[310] He told me that he accepted that as a Member of Parliament he was subject to the Code of Conduct and that as far as his public life was concerned until the Dissolution of Parliament he was bound by its terms in relation to his parliamentary and public duties. Mr Hoon said that it was a matter for me and the Committee "to decide whether in what was a secretly recorded private conversation about my future plans for life after Parliament the Code of Conduct should apply." He said that "Even Members of Parliament are entitled to a private life as paragraph 2 of the Code makes clear. A private discussion about future employment plans after the dissolution of Parliament would appear to me to fall within the scope of private rather than public life."

385. Mr Hoon said the same issue arose in relation to the meetings with civil servants. They had been purely private meetings. "I was not attending as a Member of Parliament. I had been invited by the civil servants in a voluntary capacity to help them."

386. Mr Hoon said that there were very similar issues in respect of the declaration of interests. He accepted that it was perfectly possible to interpret the 1974 resolution to mean that any conversation which a Member had with a civil servant might give rise to the need to make a declaration. Mr Hoon said that he had been arguing, consistently with what he had set out above, that the Code should apply to those areas where a Member was acting as a Member and that "since I had not been appointed to the NATO Group of Experts as a Member of Parliament and was not attending meetings with civil servants as a Member, it is straining the application of the Code to include meetings or activities that go beyond the scope of what could reasonably be described as the parliamentary and public duties of a Member of Parliament."

387. He said that in relation to the meetings with civil servants he had previously made clear that these meetings had been an opportunity for the British Government to influence his thinking. He had not been trying to influence theirs. Mr Hoon said that as a result paragraph 74 of the Guide did not apply.[311] He said that he had not been making any representations that "might reasonably be thought by others to influence the speech, representations or communication in question".

388. Mr Hoon said that he was content to rely on the certified transcript. The inclusion of the word "it" would significantly alter the meaning of what he had said in a way that could not be justified by the facts. He had not been briefed by civil servants about the Defence Review. As to the question of drawing on information available from his work with NATO, Mr Hoon reiterated that this was a public process and he had not been privy to any information that would not have been available to any reasonably well informed student of defence policy. "At no stage did I suggest that I was willing to draw on briefings from MOD and FCO officials."

389. Mr Hoon said it had been clear from the context of his remarks about work with a US investment bank that he had been talking about a possibility that was at the time still some way off. "It has not to date materialised."

390. I replied to Mr Hoon on 20 July.[312] I told him that, in the light of his argument about the scope of the Code, I would need to come to a view on the application of paragraph two of the Code[313] to his discussion when I came to resolve this complaint. I said I would also consider whether I needed to come to a view on his arguments about the application of the declaration provisions to his meetings with FCO and MOD officials.

391. I told Mr Hoon that I had noted what he had said about the inclusion of the word "it" in the certified transcript.[314] In view of the importance he attached to the words used I said I had listened again to the programme as broadcast. I said that it was clear that the word used was not "it", which he had stated was wrong. The sound track appeared clearly to record Mr Hoon saying: "I know some people on the team in the MOD who are working on this, because they brief me about this." I said it would appear, therefore, that Mr Hoon did suggest that officials had briefed him about "this" and, in the context of the question he was discussing, "this" would appear to have been a suggestion that the officials were briefing him about the defence review. I said that I took it from his evidence to me that there was no truth in this suggestion.

392. I told Mr Hoon that my inquiries of him about what he had said in the transcript in respect of his discussions with some US investment bankers was to find out whether what he had said about their wish to "kind of build a business around me" was an exaggeration; in other words, to find out whether it went beyond the facts of the matter and, if so, how far it went beyond those facts. I said that I had not used his phrase "showing off" because, of course, that term gave no indication whether the boast was based on reality or not. I told Mr Hoon that I would need to come to a conclusion about whether what he had told the undercover reporter at the meeting was wide of the reality, and, if so, whether it had brought Parliament into disrepute, taking account of the Nolan principles.

393. Mr Hoon replied to me on 23 July.[315] He said that he had given further thought to the question of the application of the Code of Conduct to the meetings he had had with civil servants from the FCO and the MOD. "It seems to me that there is a fairness issue. It would be extremely unfair if I was to be criticised for undertaking meetings at the request of civil servants for the benefit of the British Government whilst engaged in a voluntary capacity in work that I was undertaking in my own time."

394. Mr Hoon said that he had read and re-read in particular the relevant passage of the transcript marked 00.23.36.[316] He said that he would not of course in any way challenge my conclusions about what he had seemed to say. He said that he hoped that I would accept that even if he had said "this", taken as a whole "this passage is far from clear. I do not accept that it could be interpreted as suggesting that a second 'this' refers to briefing on the Defence Review because as I have made clear before no such briefing ever took place."

395. Mr Hoon said that in his experience of reading transcripts, few people spoke in perfectly formed sentences and he was clearly no exception. "I know in my own mind that I was talking about the work that I was doing for NATO and the briefing relevant to that." He said that trying his best to make sense of what he had said, he would suggest that the first part of the sentence; "some people on the team in the MOD who are working on this" referred back to the previous exchange about where "defence policy is going". The second part, even accepting that it included the word "this" was part of an explanation of the way in which he was being briefed by some of the same people working on the Defence Review but actually on the NATO work. Mr Hoon said he had made this clear in the next passage. He said he was not in any way suggesting that they were briefing him on the Defence Review.

396. Mr Hoon set out the nature of the discussions he had had with a US investment bank. He had been introduced to them by a firm of "head hunters". They had said that they were interested in employing him but before they could do so they wanted to recruit a senior and experienced figure to work with him. Mr Hoon said that the expression "build a business around me" was therefore an exaggeration. As far as he was aware, that person had never been recruited and he had heard nothing from the company since the conversation set out in the transcript. He said that he did not believe that such "preliminary conversations" fell within the Nolan principles. The discussions had been tentative, at an early stage and had not reached any particular conclusion. "We had no discussions about terms and conditions or remuneration or indeed what precisely my work would involve." He said that, in any event, had these conversations led to an offer, it would only have been after he had left Parliament.

397. I wrote to Mr Hoon on 27 July, saying that I hoped I was right in having taken from his evidence that the FCO and MOD officials had briefed him face to face and they had not also briefed others at the same time.[317]

398. Having reviewed all the evidence relating to this inquiry, I wrote again to Mr Hoon on 29 September, telling him that there were two points which I needed to clarify with him.[318] In his letter to me of 30 March,[319] he had told me that a meeting with a private equity firm had been with a UK based fund and had taken place on the morning of the interview. In his letter of 6 April,[320] he had apparently clarified the status of the private equity firm by noting that he had meetings with two American private equity firms in London, and that both maintained separate European operations. He had told me that he did not recall offering either of them a briefing, but he would have discussed defence policy in general terms. In his letter of 8 June,[321] he had said that he gave no briefings to a private equity firm while he had been an MP or since. I noted that he had said that the reference to his briefing "across the road" on the day of his meeting with the undercover reporter was a reference to a lunch organised by the Latvian ambassador for other ambassadors.

399. I said I was having difficulty in reconciling these statements with each other and with what he had said to the undercover reporter recorded in the transcript. He had said there that "I saw someone in the city this morning…it was a private equity company, they're floating off a business but they're not going to do so for 18 months…in the meantime I might well go and talk to some of their people about Europe, about some of the regulator issues, some of the legal issues that I'm familiar with, as well as a defence policy more generally ... which is what I have just been doing across the road..."[322] I asked Mr Hoon whether his evidence was that he did indeed have meetings with American private equity firms, but they were a UK fund because they had separate European operations; and that while he had had meetings with these firms which referred to his Defence experience, one of which took place in the morning of the meeting with the undercover reporter, he did not give them defence briefings similar to the defence briefings which he had given on the same day at the lunch with diplomatic guests of the Latvian Ambassador.

400. I also said I did not think I had received an answer to the question I had put to him in my letter of 23 March[323] when I wrote that it would be helpful if he could confirm that he had said his rate for consultancy or similar services was £3,000 a day, and, if true, whether he had provided any such remunerated services to date for that or any other rate, and, if so, whether he had registered the payments in the Register of Members' Financial Interests.

401. Mr Hoon wrote to me on 30 September.[324] He said that at 10am on the day of the meeting with the undercover reporter, 3 March, he had had a meeting with a UK private equity fund. This had been an introductory meeting arranged by a head hunter. It was not a briefing, although there had been some discussion about whether he would go back after the election to talk to them (the private equity fund) in general terms about the issues set out in the transcript, including Europe and defence policy. Mr Hoon said that in any event this further meeting did not take place. He said that the reference to two American private equity firms in London involved two quite separate meetings on other dates. Mr Hoon said that they had been in the nature of introductory meetings; they had not been briefings, and nothing had resulted from either meeting, before or after the election.

402. Mr Hoon said that at 1pm on that day he had attended a lunch at the Travellers' Club on Pall Mall "across the road" from St James Square, where "the entrapment [meeting with the undercover reporter] later took place." This had been a lunch organised by the Latvian Ambassador for Baltic and Scandinavian Ambassadors so that he could brief them on the work of the Group of Experts. "Such briefings were regarded as an important part of the role." Mr Hoon said that at 3pm the meeting with the undercover reporter had taken place in St James's Square, a short walk from Pall Mall. He said that he had made clear previously that he had always made all necessary entries in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. "I was asked about a daily rate by the undercover journalist. It is obvious from my reply that I did not have a clear answer to the question, not least because up until that date I had not done any consultancy or similar work, 'Erm, I, I mean I've been offered three thousand pounds for a day's work, erm and in, I mean I, that's about right.'[325] Ironically, given the circumstances, that referred to an offer made to me by Channel Four to do a television programme after the election. I did not provide any such remunerated services, at that or at any other rate, before the General Election."

403. Mr Hoon wrote to me on 6 November commenting on the draft factual sections of this memorandum.[326] The points he wished to emphasise were that:

  • there was no evidence that he was referring in his discussion with the undercover reporter to employment opportunities whilst he was still a Member of Parliament. He considered that the transcript showed clearly that he was referring to a time, at the very earliest, after the Dissolution of Parliament or still later;
  • before becoming a Member, Mr Hoon has lived and worked in the United States and on the Continent, and as a barrister he had had previous experience in European law;
  • Mr Hoon had taught European law at university in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

FINDINGS OF FACT

404. In February 2010 Mr Hoon's office received an approach from the undercover reporter, claiming to represent Anderson Perry. During an initial telephone conversation, Mr Hoon and the undercover reporter agreed to meet.

405. Mr Hoon met the undercover reporter on 3 March 2010. Mr Hoon says that he had assumed that in his own time it would be permissible to participate in a general and private conversation about possible employment opportunities arising after the Dissolution of Parliament. He acknowledges that in the course of the interview there was an element of exaggeration and immodesty in his remarks as he sought to achieve a favourable outcome.

406. Mr Hoon believes that the Code of Conduct should not be applied to many of the statements and actions which are the subject of this inquiry.[327] He argues that he was discussing the possibility of work after he had left the House, so that discussion was not subject to the Code. He argues that the discussion was about his private employment and so was a purely private matter not subject to the Code. And he argues that in his meetings with MOD and FCO officials he was not acting as a Member of Parliament but in a purely voluntary and personal capacity, and was therefore not subject to the Code.

407. Mr Hoon has argued that in each of the issues which have been the subject of this inquiry and which I identify in the following sections, it is clear from the transcript that he was referring to a period when he would no longer be a Member of Parliament, either after Dissolution or to an even later time.

Issues subject to inquiry

i.  Use of knowledge and contacts

408. Mr Hoon told the undercover reporter "indeed one of the challenges, I think which I'm really looking forward to is sort of translating my knowledge and contacts about the sort of international scene into something that, bluntly, makes money."[328]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

409. Mr Hoon says that when he referred to using his knowledge and contacts around the international scene he was referring to the fact that over the past 25 years he has developed a good understanding of how international organisations operate, including from time spent before he became a Member working in the United States and on the continent, and as a barrister with expertise in European law. He says he has been led to believe that such experience might be of use in the commercial world. He accepts that some of his statements were embarrassing, but it was meant to be a private conversation.

ii.  Offering to chair a company

410. Mr Hoon told the undercover reporter: "I'm in negotiation with quite a big company at the moment, and basically they're going to pay me I think ... a salary over the year of 3 or 4 days a month ... Of an amount like I find frankly embarrassing, but I'm not going to say that."[329]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

411. Mr Hoon says that the "embarrassing" amount of money referred to a figure suggested to him by a head hunter as being the likely amount on offer from an overseas company. Although the head hunter led Mr Hoon to believe that this offer was to be made shortly, it had not materialised when Mr Hoon wrote to me on 30 March. Mr Hoon says that in those circumstances he had not yet contacted ACOBA, since no firm offer of appointment or employment had been made. He says he would expect to do so only if he had a firm offer of an appointment or employment from the company itself.

iii.  Leading a delegation to a Minister

412. Mr Hoon said that "I am quite happy to give strategic advice … and in the right circumstances, I don't mind leading a delegation in to seeing this Minister".[330]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

413. Mr Hoon says that there could be times when a director or a chairman of a company would meet a Minister. He indicated to the reporter that "in the right circumstances" he would be willing to help to arrange that, and he argues that this statement referred only to work he might undertake when he was no longer a Member of Parliament. But he made clear that he did not want to be "some sort of a lobbyist".

iv.  Access to Defence Ministers

414. Mr Hoon told the undercover reporter that "if a former Minister asks to see the defence Minister … I don't think there would be any difficulty". [331]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

415. Mr Hoon says that he regrets that this was no more than him showing off and trying to impress. He says it was likely that as a former Secretary of State for Defence he could get to meet with whoever happened to be in the position at the time. But he would have to put forward a reason, and he does not believe that could be based on any kind of representation of a third party, unless that was in itself for legitimate reasons unconnected with his former position.

v.  Strategic Defence and Security Review

416. Having suggested that one of her clients had raised the MOD's Defence Review[332] and after a wider discussion, the undercover reporter asked Mr Hoon how easy it would be, after the election, "to kind of get a steer ... on where ... defence policy is going? Because what's, what clients always seem to want is a kind of heads up." He answered, "Yeah, yeah." The reporter then referred to "What they should be bidding for" and Mr Hoon said, "... it will take some time, but ... I know some people on the team in the MOD who are working on this, because they brief me about this." He continued, "So ... some of the people I see are doing both, they're both advising me as to what the Government position is but also working separately on the ... defence review." [333]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 13 of the Code of Conduct: Confidential information for financial gain. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

417. Mr Hoon says that he understood the interviewer's question about giving a steer on "where ... defence policy is going" to relate to the voluntary unpaid work that he was doing on behalf of NATO.[334] Mr Hoon says that the only information he had about the Defence Review was from publicly available sources such as the recent Green Paper, which he suggested the clients should read, although it would not give them many clues. Mr Hoon also states that he was at no stage given any specific briefing by MOD officials or others about progress on the Defence Review. He denies that his statements were intended to give the impression that he was offering to give a steer on the defence review based on his contacts with MOD officials working on that review as well as on the NATO defence strategy.

418. Mr Hoon says that he did not have any financial interests to declare to anyone at the MOD because he was not, in terms of Paragraph 73 of the Guide to the Rules (2009 Edition) "making representations to a Minister". His meetings at the MOD were an opportunity for the officials to make representations to him: the meetings were at their request and for their benefit. Mr Hoon also says that he was not appointed to the Group of Experts as a Member of Parliament. Mr Hoon says that in any event at the time he had no sufficiently tangible future financial benefit within the terms of Paragraph 73 to require any declaration.

vi.  NATO defence policy

419. Mr Hoon told the undercover reporter: "I went to see a private equity fund this morning ... one of the things that they do want me to do is come back and maybe talk, in strategic terms ... About the relationship ... between NATO at the higher level and National Defence Policy, which is the strategic defence review, one down, and how it actually all fits together. So I would be quite happy to do that for your clients ... and I can actually talk about it from, I mean in a sense I'm devising, I'm developing this policy, so they will get a fairly accurate account of what's going on."[335]

420. Mr Hoon told the reporter that he had seen someone in the City that morning: "... it was a private equity company, they're floating off a business ... I might well go and talk to some of their people about Europe, about some of the regulator issues, some of the legal issues that I'm familiar with, as well as defence policy more generally which is what I've just been doing across the road..."[336]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 13 of the Code of Conduct: Confidential information for financial gain Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

421. Mr Hoon says that the meeting with a private equity firm was in the United Kingdom and was with a UK based fund and had taken place the morning of his meeting with the undercover reporter. He says he had not received any payment for attending the meeting nor had he discussed any particular amount of money for meeting them in the future. In his introductory meetings arranged by a headhunter with other private equity firms, which had taken place at other times, Mr Hoon says he was not in any way seeking to trade on knowledge or information that was obtained confidentially. Mr Hoon has noted that he was a qualified barrister and taught European law at universities in the United Kingdom and the United States before entering Parliament. Mr Hoon says that when he mentioned a meeting "across the road" he was referring to a lunch organised by the Latvian Ambassador at which he discussed the work of the NATO Group of Experts of which he was then a member. No fee for this was asked for or offered.

vii.  Private Equity Briefing

422. Mr Hoon told the undercover reporter, in relation to a private equity firm, that "I might well go and talk to some of their people about Europe, about some of the regulator issues, some of the legal issues that I'm familiar with, as well as a defence policy more generally ... So you know I might well go and spend a day with them and they'll pay me a fee ..."[337]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

423. Mr Hoon describes the language that he used here as clearly aspirational and he says that his introductory meetings with private equity firms have not led to anything specific.

viii.  Defence policy document

424. Mr Hoon, referring to a document in his coat pocket, said to the undercover reporter: "… this is hot from the press, I've just got this from Washington. But it's the kind of thing that I think if you had one or more defence clients who really wanted to kind of understand where things are going, then I'd be very happy to come and present that." [338] Earlier in the meeting Mr Hoon had told the reporter: "I carry around with me a paper that we are working on now, and indeed I've just written a paper for the National Defense University of Washington, on how we see the development of [NATO] capabilities."[339]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 13 of the Code of Conduct: Confidential information for financial gain. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

425. Mr Hoon says that the document referred to was the near final version of an academic paper that he helped to write with academics from the Washington National Defense University about NATO defence capabilities. He says that it was written for publication and has now been published online. He says that this academic paper was to be the basis for that section of the Experts' report dealing with NATO capabilities, again showing the public nature of the process. Mr Hoon says that given that he had helped to write the paper it was obviously not supplied in confidence.

ix.  Bank business

426. Mr Hoon told the undercover reporter of a possible job with a US investment bank, of which he said: "They want to kind of build a business around me, they want to expand into Europe."[340]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

427. Mr Hoon says that the bank had said that they were interested in employing him but before they could do so they wanted to recruit a senior and experienced figure to work with him. Mr Hoon said that the expression "build a business around me" was therefore an exaggeration. He says that nothing had come of this idea.

x.  Daily rate for consultancy and other services £3,000 a day

428. Mr Hoon said to the reporter, in answer to a question about his "daily rate": " I mean I've been offered three thousand pounds for a day's work ... and ... that's about right".

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

429. Mr Hoon says that this was a reference to an offer he received from a television company of work after the election.[341]

RT HON RICHARD CABORN: MY INQUIRIES

430. Following receipt of Mr Hands' complaint,[342] I wrote to Mr Caborn on 31 March.[343] I asked Mr Caborn to give me a full account of the circumstances in which he had come to be interviewed by someone who turned out to be a journalist. I also asked Mr Caborn to confirm whether, as reported, he had said that:

  • "There's a number of ways in which you can influence or at least access Ministers, whether it's a sector or an individual company, or what. And also on policy as well";[344] and if true, whether that should be interpreted as an offer to influence or access Ministers once he had left the House. I asked whether Mr Caborn had at any time influenced or accessed Ministers on behalf of a sector or an individual company and, if so, what the circumstances had been, and whether he had declared his interest;
  • he might be elevated to the House of Lords and, if so, he would be able to help the fictitious company with "access to people ... getting information".[345] I asked whether, if true, this implied that he was offering to the company as a Member of the Lords access to his contacts and information;
  • one of his clients, the Fitness Industry Association (FIA), had "direct access" to health Ministers;[346] and if true, he had arranged that access and, if so, what the circumstances had been and whether Mr Caborn had declared his interest in so doing;
  • in respect of another of his clients, AMEC, "I connect them in. If they want a reception in the House of Commons and if they want ... to get advice from government, then I get advice from government and I introduce them to people".[347] I asked, if that was true, what receptions and meetings Mr Caborn had set up for AMEC including any on the parliamentary estate and whether on each occasion he had identified his interest;
  • that he would be willing to help build relations with civil servants after he had stood down and that it would not be a problem to set up meetings with civil servants.[348] I asked, if that was true, the basis on which Mr Caborn had made these offers and whether he had at any time set up meetings with civil servants on behalf of a client, and if so, what the circumstances had been, and whether he had declared his interest;
  • that he charged £2,500 a day for his services. I asked Mr Caborn to confirm whether he had at any time been paid £2,500 a day for consultancy or other services and, if so, by whom and whether he had registered these payments.

431. I also asked what subsequent communications Mr Caborn or his legal advisers had had with the reporters; whether, if any of the allegations were true, Mr Caborn considered he had an obligation to make a Register entry or declaration, or both, and what action he had taken accordingly; and if any of what Mr Caborn had said had been untrue, why he had spoken as he had done. Finally, I told Mr Caborn that I was inviting the Channel 4 programme makers to let me have his full interview.

432. Mr Caborn replied on 19 April.[349] He began by saying that in his 31 years in elected public office, he had never taken any remuneration above that which was paid for by the office he held. He continued, "It was only when I announced my retirement from public office that I was approached by a number of organisations enquiring what I would be doing when I left the House of Commons." Mr Caborn said that he had accepted a number of positions both paid and unpaid, in preparation for his life outside Parliament. He said, "at no time did I engage in any lobbying activity on behalf of any organisation registered in my Declaration of Members' Interests."[350] He also said, "For the record, all my activities that should be cleared by the House authorities, have been cleared and are fully recorded in the Members' Declaration of Interest". Mr Caborn said that all the positions not so recorded, including others referred to in the Sunday Times interview, were voluntary positions he had accepted once he had announced his retirement from Parliament.[351]

433. Mr Caborn said that in his 27 years service to the House and Government he had worked to develop a greater understanding between industry and government. He said that this was a point he had made to the House on 29 March[352] and in his submission to the Public Administration Committee on 8 May 2008.[353] Mr Caborn commented, "On re-reading my evidence, my answer to Question 585[354] is particularly accurate with regards to the entrapment that the Sunday Times tried to lure me into." His reason for serving as a Trustee of the Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) for 14 years had been to promote a greater understanding and awareness of the activities of Parliament and industry. Mr Caborn also said that, in the role of Trustee of the IPT, he had given numerous talks to industry on the role of Parliament, its back benchers and its committee structure, and on how Government works with his experience of over 10 years as a Government Minister. He commented that this was "Information I naively thought the Sunday Times journalist was interested in, but went on to totally distort what I had said".

434. Mr Caborn said that, following a number of calls to his office requesting a meeting with a representative from an American company, Anderson Perry, his secretary, having consulted him, had organised this. Mr Caborn said that the person arranging the meeting insisted on having it outside the House of Commons. He commented, "I only became aware of this on the morning of the interview. Whilst no alarm bells rang, I did find it unusual as I normally have all the meetings in the House of Commons." Mr Caborn said he still stood by his statement to the House on 29 March that what had appeared in the Sunday Times was "a fabrication of the information gained in the entrapment with the sole intention to deliberately mislead."[355] He continued, "I want to make it perfectly clear that from the very start of the entrapment interview I told the reporter that I was not making any decisions about my activities until after the General Election when I would have left the House of Commons." Mr Caborn commented, "The Sunday Times made very serious allegations, which were not followed up in the published story, of contract fixing, and influencing legislation of which they said that they had evidence from the interview, which I emphatically denied."

435. Mr Caborn said, in response to my question about subsequent communications with the reporters, that his lawyers had requested the information gathered from his interview, either in tape or transcript form, on two occasions without success. Mr Caborn said that he did not believe that any of the allegations in the Sunday Times were true.

436. I did not continue my inquiries during the Dissolution of the House. On the assembly of the new Parliament on 18 May, I resumed my inquiry. I wrote on the same day to Mr Caborn, asking him to help me further on the matters covered in his letter of 19 April, and in particular on the questions I had asked in my letter of 31 March.[356]

437. I asked Mr Caborn what the undercover reporter had originally told him (or his office) about the purpose of the interview and why he had accepted her invitation. I asked him to confirm the date of his interview. I also asked Mr Caborn what paid positions or employment he had accepted while still a Member of Parliament, with dates of acceptance and the dates when he had made any necessary registration in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I noted that Mr Caborn had given me a general answer to my questions, but that he had not addressed any of the specific questions which I had asked him about the interview. I asked him to provide me with specific answers to each of the points I had raised. I said that, if he preferred, it would be open to him to defer answering these questions until I had resolved the matter of my request for the full transcript.

438. I also asked Mr Caborn for a specific answer to my question as to whether he had at any time been paid £2,500 a day for consultancy or other services. I said that Mr Caborn's reference to all his activities having been recorded in the Register of Members' Financial Interests did not specifically answer that question. I noted that Mr Caborn had referred to the speech he had made in the House of Commons on 29 March 2010, and I said I would include the relevant sections of the Official Report in the written evidence.[357] I asked him, if he wished me to take account of any information in relation to his evidence to the Public Administration Committee,[358] to send me a copy of the relevant sections so that I could include them in the written evidence.

439. Mr Caborn wrote to me on 21 May. [359] He asked me whether my request for his full interview included both the audio and film recording which had been referred to in the Sunday Times article, and he asked me to confirm that he would have access to this information.

440. Mr Caborn told me that he had understood that the meeting with Ms Claire Webster was on behalf of an American company, Anderson Perry, who were looking to locate and invest in the UK. He said that his secretary had "googled" the company and provided him with background briefing for the meeting, which had been held on 10 March 2010. He said that he believed the date to be accurate but "we have no means of checking back". He said that his only paid position had been after he had announced his intention in 2007 not to stand at the next General Election. He had accepted two positions which had been cleared by the office of ACOBA[360] and were recorded in his acceptance letter to them dated 29 February 2008,[361] and a letter of 6 March 2008 to the Registrar of Members' Financial Interests.[362] He said that he preferred to defer providing any detailed answers until he received the tapes and film of the interview.

441. Mr Caborn told me that his notional daily rates were £2,500 per day for AMEC and £1,000 per day for the FIA. He said, "I say 'notional' as a significant amount of time is required in preparing for meetings, reading background papers and preparing reports". This had all been "built into the daily rate." He estimated that this was between two to three days per fee paid day, and said that this was covered in the declaration in the Registers of Members' Financial Interests.

442. I wrote to Mr Caborn on 24 May.[363] In response to his letter of 21 May, I said that I would show him anything I received from the production company in response to my request for material of the full interview. I told Mr Caborn that I remained unclear what the reporter had told him or his office about what they had wanted to discuss with him. I said that unless he provided me with further information, I would assume that he had agreed to the meeting solely on the information that there was an American company looking to locate and invest in the UK. I said that I would assume that there had been no suggestion at that stage that he would have any role in its activities.

443. I asked Mr Caborn to identify specifically the paid positions he had accepted, the dates when he had accepted them and when he had registered them, as I had requested in my earlier letter.[364] I asked Mr Caborn to let me have copies of the letters to which he referred, including his exchange of correspondence with ACOBA, so that I could enter them into the evidence.

444. I also asked Mr Caborn to identify the parts of his evidence session with the Public Administration Committee which he wished me to consider. Without that, I said that I would need to come to my own view on whether the whole of his responses in that session, or any other part of those responses, were relevant to this inquiry.

445. On 27 May I received the certified transcripts of Mr Caborn's conversations with the undercover reporter. The transcript of Mr Caborn's meeting with the reporter had a paragraph in block capitals in the note provided by the solicitor stating:

"NB The sound quality of this recording was particularly poor with quite a lot of background noise (as the venue is a hotel café) and so the accuracy of this transcript is necessarily limited."

This paragraph was not included in the notes covering the transcripts of other Members' meetings.

446. I wrote to Mr Caborn on 2 June, attaching the transcripts of Mr Caborn's conversations.[365] I asked him to help me with some further points. I said first that Mr Caborn had referred in his initial telephone conversation with Ms Webster, and at various points in his interview, to his role as a non-executive director of Nuclear Management Partners.[366] I asked him to confirm that appointment and to let me know whether he had considered registering it in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I also said that he had referred in a number of places to his proposals for restructuring health and wellness services in Sheffield, and to links with his friend who was Chair of the Health Authority.[367] I asked him to let me know whether he had linked this work to his work as consultant to the Fitness Industry Association, and whether the members of that Association had been likely to benefit from those proposals. I also asked him to tell me whether, in his contacts with Ministers and officials on the proposals, he had made it clear that he was a paid consultant to FIA.

447. I drew Mr Caborn's attention to his references, in various places in the transcript, to the work he had done with AMEC and in setting up a consortium to bid for, and win, a major contract.[368] I asked him to tell me the dates when he had undertaken that work and whether it had involved representations to Ministers or officials, and if so, whether he had declared his interest. I referred Mr Caborn to his comments about the regeneration of the company when he said, "I revamped the whole structure."[369] I asked him to confirm that this was an accurate statement of the work he had undertaken for AMEC, and also to tell me how this major task had been structured. I asked Mr Caborn whether he was given assistance in the task, and how he had managed to achieve it given his parliamentary duties.

448. I noted that in response to the question about the kind of further expertise he would have been able to bring if he were to be elevated to the House of Lords, Mr Caborn had responded, "Well, access, access to people. You're in the environment, you're moving around, you're doing it all the time. That would give you a much wider view … that would be a base … you're there all the time … Got access all the time. Access to Ministers, you've got access to all the information that's going around."[370] I asked Mr Caborn whether it was reasonable to interpret those statements as suggesting that as a Member of the House of Lords he could secure access to Ministers for the company which was retaining him on its advisory board.

449. I noted that, on getting a Minister to go out for dinner, he had said, "I did it with AMEC, Samir Brikho, their MD … he said to me: 'Why don't we bring academia, producers … [the] Secretary of State for Energy and the one for schools' and so I set all that up … I'd do it at Westminster cos it's easier for them."[371] I asked Mr Caborn whether he had set up for AMEC a dinner or dinners in the Palace of Westminster, and if so, what had been the arrangements, and whether he had declared a financial interest in booking the facilities and sending out the invitations. I said to Mr Caborn that he had implied that he had arranged a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Energy Minister for the Managing Director of AMEC. I asked him to confirm this and, if so, the arrangements which he had made, including whether he had declared his interest to the relevant Departments in setting up that meeting. Finally, I asked Mr Caborn to confirm the date of the interview with the undercover reporter.

450. Mr Caborn responded to me on 8 June.[372] He said that he did appreciate my efforts in obtaining the "rough transcript", but asked whether it would be possible to secure the tapes and the film referred to in the Sunday Times article. He said he was informed that "rough transcripts ... do not always give the true picture. I believe that this is the case in this instance and that for the sake of accuracy of the full interview access to the tape and film would be helpful."

451. Turning to my questions in my letter of 24 May,[373] Mr Caborn said that the issue of what the reporter had said about what they wanted to discuss with him had now been cleared up with the transcript of the telephone call to his office where "I made it very clear I would not take on any further commitments until after the General Election and then that would be conditional on what my circumstances were at that time." [374] Mr Caborn said that I had therefore been right to conclude in my 24 May letter that that there was no suggestion at that stage that he would have any role in its activities.

452. Mr Caborn attached the information I had requested in my letter of 24 May[375] in respect of the posts he had held. This included the clearance letters from ACOBA,[376] his letter of 29 February 2008[377] informing ACOBA that it was his intention to accept the appointments[378] and a copy of his letter of 6 March 2008 to the Registrar of Members' Financial Interests.[379] Mr Caborn said that he had taken up the position of a non-executive Director of NMP in September 2008 and he had written to the Registrar to amend his entry in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. He attached a letter to the Registrar of 9 October 2008.[380]

453. In answer to my request in my letter of 24 May[381] for him to identify the parts of his evidence session with the Public Administration Select Committee on 8 May 2008 which he wished me to consider, Mr Caborn had identified three areas: former Ministers taking up outside appointments, covered in Questions 542-543 and 544; how the business appointment system could be improved, Questions 548 and 585; and the difference between lobbying and consultants and the interaction of business and industry with Parliament and Government, Questions 554, 555, 560 and 562.[382] He said that this gave his position on these issues which he believed were consistent "with the way I conducted the Sunday Times entrapment interview and are consistent with the Rules of House."

454. Mr Caborn also provided answers to the questions in my letter of 2 June.[383] On his role as non-executive director of Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), he said that this was covered in the documentation he had already submitted. On the proposals for restructuring of the health and welfare services in Sheffield, Mr Caborn said that no meetings or contacts had been made with Ministers or officials. The idea had been discussed with Mr David Stone, Chairman of the Sheffield Heath Authority,[384] at his request, a couple of weeks before the Sunday Times "entrapment". "I raised the issues with FIA at one of our regular meetings as I had with other organisations who might be interested in the proposed project. This was an idea very much in its infancy, but if in the future it was necessary to make a declaration with my association with the FIA, I would do so."

455. In answer to my question about his work with AMEC, Mr Caborn said that from October 2007 to July 2008 he had advised AMEC and the other two partners in the consortium on "trade union relations/socio economics and local government issues surrounding the bid and AMEC on other issues." He added that on no occasion had he spoken to or consulted with Ministers or government officials, or any of the directors or staff of the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (the body awarding the contract), on this issue.

456. On the regeneration of AMEC, Mr Caborn said that he had been asked by the Board of NMP to look at the delivery of socio economic policies. "I reviewed the existing proposals and with other interested partners at Sellafield and the wider community of West Cumbria proposed a new structure which after discussions with all the parties was accepted and is now operational in West Cumbria." The work had been carried out on behalf of the Board of the NMP and not just AMEC; it had been undertaken by staff of the NMP and consultants under his direction. As to how he had been able to do this work, given his parliamentary duties, Mr Caborn said that, as he had just stepped down from being a Government Minister, this released time which he used to take a number of appointments both paid and unpaid. He said that his involvement with the nuclear industry was of great importance and benefit to his constituency, Sheffield Central, and that this was borne out in letters he had submitted to me from the past Master Cutler and the Director of Forgemasters.[385]

457. Mr Caborn also noted that at the dinner of 23 June 2008 to which he had referred during his interview,[386] both the Managing Director of Forgemasters and the Vice Chancellor of Sheffield University had been present and the issue of advanced manufacturing and forging capacity had been discussed. He said that in 2010, announcements were made on major investments by the Government and Rolls Royce into the University-led Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sheffield. This was followed by a Government announcement on a major investment into "what possibly could be the world's largest forging press" at Forgemasters in Sheffield. He said that his involvement at a number of levels in the nuclear/manufacturing sector had had a beneficial effect for his constituency and Sheffield.

458. As to the kind of further expertise he would have been able to bring if he were to be elevated to the House of Lords Mr Caborn said it would be wrong to interpret his statements "as suggesting that as a Member of the House of Lords you could secure access to Ministers for the company who retained you on an advisory board." He said that he had neither been offered nor accepted any position on an advisory board. "If I had I would work as I have always done within the rules laid down by the House." He had also made it clear from the outset that if he was in the House of Lords he would spend time on public policy areas of green energy/manufacturing and sport and physical activity and the wellbeing agenda. Mr Caborn said that this was borne out on a number of references in the transcript.

459. Mr Caborn said that the dinner of 23 June 2008 had not been set up for AMEC: "it was set up to facilitate a discussion with academia, industry and government Ministers on how they could work together to maximise the UK's advantage on the building of the new nuclear power stations. AMEC were one of the five industrialists present. AMEC paid for the dinner and I declared on the booking form of the House of Commons, my financial interest with AMEC, and all attending were told that AMEC had paid for the dinner. "

460. Mr Caborn confirmed his statement as recorded in the transcript about access to the Prime Minister by the Managing Director of AMEC, Samir Brikho. [387] He said that he was making the point that Chairmen of major companies get access "as of right" to both the Prime Minister and other Ministers. He said that he had never arranged one to one meetings for Samir Brikho or any other industrialists with the Prime Minister or any other Ministers.

461. I wrote to Mr Caborn on 9 June.[388] I noted that he had asked if I could secure for him the tapes and the film referred to in the Sunday Times article. I said that the production company had provided a certified transcript of both his telephone conversation on 16 February 2010 and of his meeting with Claire Webster. I also noted that at the start of the transcript, following the preparation of a rough transcript from the production company, a solicitor had listened to the audio recordings, corrected the transcript and certified that to the best of their knowledge, information and belief, the transcript was accurate. As the statement had made clear, there had been parts where a word or words had been inadudible, and these parts had been identified.

462. I told Mr Caborn that I considered that the production company had satisfactorily met my request. They had provided evidence in a way which was appropriate for my inquiry. I said that it was, of course, open to him to identify any part of the transcript which he believed to have been inaccurately transcribed. But given that I had received a certified transcript, which I had shared fully with him, I did not believe it was necessary for me to have the original audio or video in order to be able fairly to conduct this inquiry.

463. I said that although some of Mr Caborn's responses touched on the same issues, he had not yet responded to the specific questions which I had put to him in my letter to him of 31 March.[389] I had referred to these again in my letter to him of 18 May.[390] I asked Mr Caborn, therefore, if he could let me have a response to these points, taking account as necessary of the transcript of his interview.

464. Mr Caborn responded to me on 16 June.[391] He said that he had concerns that major parts of the transcript were missing, and he pointed out that the transcript time sequence went from 00.55.51 to 00.54.26 on the next page. He said that while the transcript had recorded his comments at 01.34.33 as "INAUDIBLE", he had said at the beginning of that paragraph that he was speaking as the former Minister of Trade and Industry, which he said "totally changed the meaning of the paragraph."[392]

465. Mr Caborn said that at 01.40.12 in the transcript, following the undercover reporter's comment, "I'm sure we can work something out ...", the transcript rendered his reply as "Alright INAUDIBLE". Mr Caborn said that he had said, "Alright would you please put it down in writing so that I can consider any proposition after the Election." Mr Caborn said that "Again this puts the script into a totally different context".

466. On his statements about the number of ways to influence or at least access Ministers, Mr Caborn said that, in respect of his time as a Minister, he endorsed the FIA's statement to the Sunday Times that they had gained access to all types of people, including Ministers, as an organisation. During his time as a Minister, Mr Caborn said that he had met many organisations, including the FIA. He said that the second part of this section of the transcript, if the inaudible sentences had been transcribed, would have been a reference to the workings of the Select Committees and how they influenced both Ministers and policy. Mr Caborn said that his statement was an explanation of how the system worked, not an offer to influence or access Ministers either before or when he had left the House, and that he had never accessed Ministers or influenced Ministers through lobbying.

467. As to whether he was offering access to Ministers if he became a Member of the House of Lords, Mr Caborn said that he had answered this question in his letter to me of 8 June.[393] Mr Caborn also said that he had never arranged access to Health Ministers or any other Ministers for the FIA. In response to my question about his statement "I connect them in", Mr Caborn referred me to the relevant parts of the transcript, where he had said, "Oh, AMEC... (...INAUDIBLE...) when I go down to South Africa, I know the Minister of Energy there people there, I fix their people together and we met the Minister of Energy out there cause they've got one nuclear power station. (...INAUDIBLE...) And so I connect them in, if they want a reception in the House of Commons and if they want erm to get advice from Government then I get advice from Government and I introduce them to people."[394] He said that he had been referring to the South African Government and the South African Minister for Energy. This was part of the inaudible part of the transcript.

468. Mr Caborn said that he had always declared receptions and meetings with AMEC and other organisations within the rules laid down by the House Authorities. As to his statement that he would be willing to help build relations with civil servants after he had stood down and that it would not be a problem to set up meetings with civil servants, Mr Caborn said that he was speaking about the time when he was a Minister. He said, "The transcript is very confusing and it moves from 55.55.51 to 54.26 of which there is no continuity in the transcript. But ... I have not set up any meetings with civil servants on behalf of any clients."

469. Mr Caborn said that the allegations made by the Sunday Times were untrue and unfounded, as he had told the House on the 29 March;[395] and that the allegations of lobbying by Mr Greg Hands MP in his letter to me were also untrue.[396] He said that he had made entries in the Register of Members' Financial Interests, and that he had sent me all the evidence relating to this in previous correspondence. He said that all his statements as set out in the transcript supplied were true and if a full transcript were provided, this would show the correct context in which they were made.

470. I wrote to Mr Caborn on 23 June, seeking more factual information about the receptions, dinners and meetings he had arranged on behalf of AMEC and the FIA when he had been paid by them.[397] In particular I noted that he had said in his letter of 16 June[398] that "regarding receptions and meetings with AMEC and other organisations, I have always declared them within the rules laid down by the House." I said I had noted from the parliamentary website that Mr Caborn had sponsored receptions or dinners on the parliamentary estate for the FIA on 5 July 2007 and 3 December 2008, and for AMEC on 23 June 2008 and 11 May 2009. I attached the relevant extract from the published list of events and functions bookings.[399] I asked him to tell me the form in which he had declared his interest in these events and in any others which he had sponsored on behalf of any organisation which had provided him with remuneration, noting that declaration was a separate requirement from registration. I also asked, in respect of these events, whether he had, or could ask the funding organisation to produce, copies of the invitations. I noted that Members were required to identify their interest on the invitation and I said that I needed to check on this.

471. Mr Caborn replied to me on 1 July.[400] He told me that he had not arranged any meetings or receptions for AMEC and the FIA whilst he was being paid by them. He had arranged dinners paid for by both the organisations. The reception on 5 July 2007 for the FIA, listed in the enclosure to my letter of 23 June,[401] had taken place before he had become a consultant for the FIA. He told me that he had registered his interest in the FIA in February 2008 after it had been cleared by the office of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

472. Mr Caborn said that the AMEC dinner at the House of Commons on 23 June 2008 had been his initiative "designed to bring industry, academia and Government together to discuss the New Build Programme for Nuclear Power Stations." He said he had asked AMEC to sponsor that dinner; his office had arranged the guest list with the universities and industry and had sent out the invitations. Mr Caborn said that his interest in AMEC had been registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests and he had declared his interest in AMEC in the booking form of the Banqueting Department of the House. He told me that he had thanked the eleven people who had attended the dinner in his winding up remarks and AMEC had been thanked for hosting the dinner.

473. Mr Caborn said that the invitations to the dinner for the FIA on 3 December 2008 had been sent out by the FIA and had named him as the sponsor for the event. He said that his interest in the FIA had been recorded in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. Mr Caborn attached a copy of an invitation sent by another Member to an FIA event which was similar in type to the one used for the event.[402] He said that he had checked the banqueting form in the House of Commons and noted that the form did not record his financial interest. He said that his office might have thought that the FIA sending out the invitation covered this: "Clearly this was an oversight on my part and if it is a mistake, I take full responsibility."

474. Mr Caborn said that guests at the AMEC dinner of 11 May 2009 had been invited by him from among those who had attended the AMEC Terrace Reception. His interest in AMEC had been declared in the Register of Members' Financial Interests and he made a declaration on the booking form. He said that the eleven people who had attended the dinner had been mentioned in his winding up remarks and thanked for attending, as were AMEC for sponsoring the evening.

475. I wrote to Mr Caborn on 6 July.[403] In relation to the FIA reception of 5 July 2007, I noted that he had not registered his position as a consultant to the FIA until February 2008. I asked him whether, at the time of the reception in July 2007, he had had a reasonable expectation that he would be appointed a consultant and, therefore, that a financial benefit would accrue to him from the FIA. I referred him to paragraph 73 of the Guide to the Rules.[404]

476. In respect of the FIA dinner on 3 December 2008 I said that I had noted that, for the reasons he had given me, he had not declared his interest on the booking form. I said that I noted, too, that the FIA invitation, which I understood followed the format of the invitation he had sent me from another Member, did not identify the Member as a paid consultant to the association. I said that I would need in due course to check this with the House authorities.

477. I also raised with Mr Caborn questions concerning the AMEC dinners of 23 June 2008 and 11 May 2009. I said that I noted that he had declared his interest on the booking form for both occasions, and that he had thanked AMEC for hosting the event. I asked Mr Caborn to confirm that, to the best of his knowledge, there had been no reference to his paid consultancy for AMEC on any invitation which had been sent out for either event. I also asked him to confirm that he did not refer to his paid consultancy in his winding-up remarks at either event.

478. I said that I noted that the guests invited for dinner for 11 May 2009 had attended an AMEC Terrace reception. I told Mr Caborn that I had not identified this from the published list of events and function bookings made by him and noted that he had told me in his letter of 1 July[405] that he had arranged no such reception for AMEC when he was being paid by them. I asked Mr Caborn whether he had in fact sponsored and booked this reception and, if so, the date of the event, whether he had declared his interest on the booking form, and whether his interest had been noted on the invitation. I also asked Mr Caborn to confirm that he had arranged no receptions, meetings or dinners with or for any other body or organisation which had also provided him with remuneration.

479. Mr Caborn replied on 9 July.[406] He said that before he had resigned as a Minister on 27 June 2007, and between 27 June and 5 July 2007, he had had no discussions with any person or organisation, including the FIA, about any paid position.

480. Mr Caborn said that he had nothing further to add to the information he had given me before in respect of the FIA dinner of 3 December 2008, except to reiterate that he had registered his financial interests with the FIA and that he had clearly stated on the booking form that the event had been for the FIA. He told me that he had sent out invitations with his name as the sponsor and that his mistake on the booking form was an oversight. He said, "in no way was I trying to deceive."

481. Mr Caborn told me, in respect of the AMEC dinner on 23 June 2008, that his registration of his financial interest, declaration on the House of Commons Booking Form and the thanks he had given to AMEC for sponsoring the dinner were "sufficient to comply with the House Rules." No formal invitations had been sent out. He had not referred to his paid consultancy once, as "I believed I had complied with both the spirit and intention of the House Rules."

482. Mr Caborn said that I was correct in believing he had not arranged the 11 May 2009 reception for AMEC. He told me that he understood that this had been arranged by another MP. Mr Caborn said that he had taken the opportunity to invite to the dinner a number of guests who had attended the reception. No formal invitations had been sent out for the dinner and some of the guests had been invited on the night.

483. Mr Caborn confirmed that he had not arranged meetings, receptions or dinners for any other bodies or organisations, as there had been no other bodies that had remunerated him. He said that he had arranged many other functions for charitable and sporting bodies for which he had received no payment.

484. On 14 July I wrote to the Director of Catering and Retail Services at the House.[407] I asked her to let me have a copy of the booking form for the dinner for the FIA sponsored by Mr Caborn on 3 December 2008. I asked the Director to confirm whether Mr Caborn had been in breach of the rules in not identifying on that form that he had been paid by the FIA. I also asked her whether in her opinion the House of Commons Banqueting Terms and Conditions had required Mr Caborn to identify his financial interests on the invitation, or whether the format he had used was acceptable within the rules.

485. I noted that Mr Caborn had also sponsored dinners on 23 June 2008 and 11 May 2009 for the construction company AMEC, for whom he was a paid consultant. I asked the Director for copies of the booking forms for the two AMEC dinners and sought her advice on whether the identification of AMEC as the sponsor in Mr Caborn's speech at each event had been sufficient to meet his obligations in identifying his financial interests under the banqueting rules of the House, or whether Mr Caborn should have drawn to attendees' attention his financial interest in AMEC.

486. The Director of Catering and Retail Services wrote to me on 27 August.[408] She attached a copy of the Private Dining Confirmation forms for the FIA dinner on 3 December 2008.[409] The Director noted that the Department had received two booking forms, each of which was only partially completed. One form had been completed and returned directly to the House's Banqueting Office by FIA as organiser of the event, clearly naming the event as "Fitness Industry Association Vanguard Dinner" and advising contact and billing details. The Director said that, on that form, the Sponsor's section was marked "already completed" and "N/A", and although the questions for the sponsor had been answered, this had been crossed out prior to FIA forwarding the form to the Banqueting Office. She said that the second form left blank the section headed "Organiser to Complete", so made no reference to the name of the event, and the Sponsor's section clearly stated "no" in response to the question "do you have a declarable interest relating to your sponsorship of this function?" The Director said that this form was signed by Mr Caborn.

487. The Director noted the requirements in respect of declaration of Members' interests which were among the terms and conditions of booking for the House banqueting service.[410] The Director continued that if Mr Caborn was paid by the FIA, she would have expected him to respond "Yes" to the relevant question on the booking form. She also said that the Private Dining Confirmation Form specifically stated that, if applicable, "Relevant registered interest declared" must be stated on the invitation to the event. This was also clearly stated in the banqueting terms and conditions.[411] She told me, "In my opinion, it is not adequate to merely display the organiser's logo on the invitation, as this in itself gives no indication of whether or not the sponsoring MP has any declarable interest in the event."

488. The Director also attached copies of the Private Dining Confirmation Forms for the two dinners hosted by Mr Caborn on 23 June 2008 and 11 May 2009 for AMEC.[412] She noted that both forms were signed and dated by Mr Caborn, who had clearly confirmed that he did have a declarable interest relating to his sponsorship of the function. The Director said that the Note to Sponsors printed on the booking form instructing that "Relevant registered interest declared" must be stated on the invitation to the event had, thus, been applicable in both instances. If no formal invitations had been issued for these events, that did not remove the responsibility of Mr Caborn, as sponsor, to overtly and specifically declare to attendees that he had a relevant interest relating to his sponsorship of the dinner.

489. I replied to the Director on 2 September.[413] I noted from the confirmation forms for the FIA dinner on 3 December 2008 Mr Caborn had signed but not dated the form he submitted and there was no signature or date on the one from the FIA, although there was a fax line which suggested that it was sent on 31 December 2006. I asked the Director whether the Department had any record of when these forms were received by it.

490. The Director of Catering and Retail Services wrote to me on 6 September, confirming that her Department had recorded receipt of the signed event confirmation form in respect of the Fitness Industry Association dinner from Mr Caborn on 23 October 2008 and the completed form for the same dinner from the Fitness Industry Association on or around 4 November 2008.[414] Thus both forms had been received prior to the event. She said that the fax date of 31 December 2006 printed on the form sent by the FIA could not be correct, as the Department did not accept bookings for events more than 18 months in advance.

491. On 7 September I wrote to Mr Caborn.[415] I said that I had now heard back from the Department. I asked him, since I understood from his evidence that no written invitations had been sent out for either of the AMEC dinners, to address the implication of the Department's advice, which was that he should have made a specific reference to his registrable interest in the speeches which he gave at both events.

492. Mr Caborn wrote to me on 10 September.[416] He said that he had little to add in respect of the AMEC dinners to the comments he made in the letter of 1 July.[417] No invitations had been sent out, and the dinners for AMEC referred to were small. He said that he had thanked AMEC for sponsoring the dinners; most if not all attendees knew of his consultancy with AMEC but he could not recall specifically spelling that out at either of the two dinners.

493. On the FIA Dinner on 3 December 2008, he noted the information sent from the Facilities Department. He said that "Unlike the AMEC dinners, where both the single booking forms were sent through my office in the House of Commons, for some reason the FIA Dinner had two booking forms, one sent by my office and the other by the FIA. Why that was, I do not know, but may go some way in explaining why my office thought all the relevant information had been sent by the FIA to the banqueting department clearly that did not give the correct information to the banqueting office and for which I take full responsibility."

494. Mr Caborn said that on the question of notifying those present at the FIA dinner of his consultancy with them, "I thought that my registration in the Members' Register of Interest, my name on the invitation, my thanks to the FIA for sponsoring the dinner in my closing speech, covered the House rules. Clearly now that it is brought to my attention, I should have made specific reference to it, to have totally complied with the rules."

495. I wrote to Mr Caborn on 13 September.[418] I asked him whether his office sent out invitations to the AMEC dinner held on 23 June 2008. I noted that in his letter of 1 July,[419] he said that he thought at that stage that his office had sent the invitations for that dinner. But I said that Mr Caborn had told me in his letter of 10 September,[420] as he had also said in his letter of 9 July,[421] that no invitations had been sent out since they were small dinners.

496. Mr Caborn wrote to me on 15 September.[422] He said that no formal invitations were sent out for the dinner on 23 June 2008 sponsored by AMEC. "My office sent out letters to some of the invitees and that is the reference in the 1 July letter. The letter was as much to inform those invitees of the reason for the dinner ie in discussions about nuclear new build, as the arrangements for the dinner. Some invites were sent out by the Sheffield University Vice Chancellor who selected the University invitees. Industry representatives at the dinner were similarly invited, some by my office, some by other invitees."

497. I wrote to Mr Caborn on 16 September.[423] I said I had noted that letters of invitation for the AMEC dinner on 23 June 2008 had been sent out to some of those he had invited (presumably orally) and some invitations were sent out by the Vice Chancellor of Sheffield University. I asked Mr Caborn to confirm that none of the letters or Sheffield University invitations declared his registered interest.

498. Mr Caborn wrote to me on 20 September.[424] Mr Caborn said that he initiated and organized the dinner for industrialists, academics and Ministers which was sponsored by AMEC at his request. He confirmed that I was correct to assume that these invitations did not declare his registered interest.

FINDINGS OF FACT

499. In February 2010 Mr Caborn's office received an approach from the undercover reporter claiming to represent Anderson Perry. During an initial telephone conversation, Mr Caborn and the undercover reporter agreed to a meeting, which took place on 10 March 2010.

500. Mr Caborn has expressed serious concerns about the method used to produce the interview and about the extent of what he believes to be missing and inaudible sections of the transcript. Mr Caborn has pointed out that the transcript nevertheless shows that he made it clear throughout his discussion with the undercover reporter that he was not making any decisions about his activities until after the General Election, when he would have left the House of Commons. He explained to the undercover reporter that he was uncertain about his activities, since he did not know if he would be elevated to the House of Lords in the Dissolution honours.

501. Mr Caborn has drawn attention to the statement he made in the House on 29 March 2010[425] and the evidence he gave to the Public Administration Select Committee on 8 May 2008.[426] In his evidence to that Select Committee, he explained why he thought it desirable for Members to have outside employment in order to help bring industry and Parliament together. He told the House on 29 March 2010 that, in his 27 years in Parliament, including the 14 years he spent as a Trustee of the Industry and Parliament Trust, he had worked to bring together universities, Government and industry in the best interests of the United Kingdom.

Issues subject to inquiry

i.  Accessing Ministers

502. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter: "There's a number of ways in which you can ... influence or at least access Ministers, whether it's a sector or an individual company, or what. And also on policy as well."[427]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy.

Mr Caborn says that his comments represented an explanation of how the system works, not an offer to influence or access Ministers on behalf of clients either before or after he left the House. He says that he never accessed Ministers or influenced Ministers through lobbying.

ii.  House of Lords

503. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter: "there's a possibility I will be in the House of Lords..." Asked by the reporter what kind of further expertise he would bring if he were to be in the Lords, Mr Caborn said, "Access to Ministers, you've got access to all the information that's going around ..."[428]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

504. Mr Caborn says that if he were to be elevated to the House of Lords he would work as he always had done within the Rules laid down by the House.

iii.  Fitness Industry Association: Ministerial Access

505. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter in respect of one of his clients, the Fitness Industry Association (FIA): "like the FIA, I mean we get direct access to Ministers, particularly Health Ministers. I was a Minister when I was working with them, I was Minister of Sport and I worked with the FIA to try to encourage them to get on board much more".[429]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

506. Mr Caborn says that he has never arranged any access for Health Ministers or any other Ministers for the FIA. Mr Caborn says that when he was a Minister he met many organisations, including the FIA.

iv.  AMEC

Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter, in respect of one of his clients, AMEC, that "when I go down to South Africa, I know the Minister of Energy there people there, I fix their people together and we met the Minister of Energy out there cause they've got one nuclear power station. (...INAUDIBLE...) And so I connect them in, if they want a reception in the House of Commons and if they want erm to get advice from Government then I get advice from Government and I introduce them to people." [430]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

507. Mr Caborn says that he was referring to the South African Government and the South African Minister for Energy. He says that the statement was true about South Africa, and a meeting with the South African Energy Minister. AMEC access to the House of Commons is referred to below.

v.  Relationships with civil servants

508. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter, in answer to her question whether it would be a problem to set up meetings with civil servants: "Oh no. I mean I set loads of meetings up when I was Minister".[431]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

509. Mr Caborn says that he was speaking about the time he was a Minister. He says that he has not set up any meetings with civil servants on behalf of any clients.

vi.  Health and wellness services: Sheffield

510. Mr Caborn told me in evidence that he had a meeting with the Chairman of the Sheffield Health Authority about proposals for restructuring health and wellness services in Sheffield.[432] He told the undercover reporter: "You are looking at a fairly big scheme changing. You're looking at very, very much in its infancy. The Chairman of the Health Authority, who is a friend of mine who I have known for many years ... So what we are looking at is zoning the whole of Sheffield ... to look at whether we can actually move the whole cultural agenda to prevention rather than cure ... I have been advising the FIA ... They're looking to use their assets more effectively, because they are the peer groups of a new organisation."

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

511. Mr Caborn says that no meetings or contacts on this issue were arranged with Ministers or officials. The idea had been discussed with the Chairman of the Sheffield Heath Authority at his request a couple of weeks before the meeting with the undercover reporter. Mr Caborn says that he raised the issues with FIA at one of their regular meetings as he had with other organisations who might be interested in the proposed project. He says that this was an idea very much in its infancy, but that if in the future it was necessary to make a declaration regarding his association with the FIA, he would do so.

vii.  AMEC contract

512. Mr Caborn referred in the meeting with the undercover reporter to the work he did with AMEC in setting up a consortium to bid for, and win, a major contract to clean up and to look at all reprocessing of the fuel at Sellafield. He said: "AMEC said to me, when I had finished he came to me and he said would I advise them what to do, with a consortium, so I said fine, yeah I advised them ... we won it, we won the contract." [433]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

513. Mr Caborn says that from October 2007 to July 2008 he advised AMEC and the other two partners in a consortium bidding for a contract to be awarded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency. He gave advice on trade union relations/socio economic and local government issues surrounding the bid. He also advised AMEC on other issues. On no occasion did he speak to or consult with Ministers or government officials on this issue and neither did he contact any of the Directors or staff of the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency.

viii.  AMEC structural revamp

514. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter in respect of his work for AMEC: "I set up the whole regeneration of the company, because they had a commitment to socioeconomic development and I did not like the structure so I revamped the whole structure..."[434]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

515. Mr Caborn says that his statement to the undercover reporter was accurate but the work was carried out on behalf of the Board of NMP and not just AMEC. Mr Caborn says that he was asked by the Board of Nuclear Management Partners to look at the delivery of the socio economic policies associated with the company. He says that the task was undertaken by staff of the NMP and consultants under his direction. He also says that his involvement with the nuclear industry, especially manufacturing, was of great importance and benefit to his constituency of Sheffield Central.

ix.  Fitness Industry Association reception in the House on 5 July 2007

516. Mr Caborn booked a reception in the House on behalf of the Fitness Industry Association (FIA). The event was funded by the FIA. Mr Caborn did not declare an interest in the FIA on the booking form.

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraphs 14 and 16 of the Code of Conduct: Use of Facilities and Registration and Declaration. Terms and conditions of the House banqueting service.

517. Mr Caborn says that the 5 July reception took place before he became a consultant for the FIA. He was a Minister until the end of June 2007 and he had no expectation of being appointed by the FIA. He first registered his interest in the FIA in the Register of Members' Financial Interests in February 2008 after his consultancy had been cleared by the office of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

x.  AMEC dinner in the House on 23 June 2008

518. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter in answer to a question about how easy it was to get a Minister to go out for dinner, "I did it with AMEC, Samir Brikho, their MD … he said to me: 'Why don't we bring academia, producers … the Secretary of State for Energy and the one for schools' … and so I set all that up … I'd do it at Westminster because it's easier for them."[435]

519. Mr Caborn's evidence is that AMEC funded this dinner. Mr Caborn declared his interest in AMEC on the booking form. No formal invitations were sent out, although some letters were sent out to invitees to inform them of the reasons for the dinner; these did not declare Mr Caborn's paid consultancy with AMEC. Mr Caborn thanked AMEC for sponsoring the dinner in his winding up remarks, but made no reference to his paid consultancy for them.

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraphs 14 and 16 of the Code of Conduct: Use of Facilities and Registration and Declaration. Terms and conditions of the House banqueting service.

520. Mr Caborn says he initiated the dinner of 23 June 2008 to facilitate a discussion with academia, industry and Government Ministers on how they could work together to maximise the UK's advantage on the building of the new nuclear power stations. He says that AMEC were one of the five industrialists present.[436]

521. The Director of Catering and Retail Services says that if no formal invitations were issued for this event, this did not remove the responsibility of Mr Caborn, as Sponsor, overtly and specifically to declare to attendees that he had a relevant interest relating to his sponsorship of the dinner.

xi.  FIA dinner in the House on 3 December 2008

522. Mr Caborn booked a dinner in the House on 3 December 2008 on behalf of and funded by the FIA. The booking form did not record Mr Caborn's financial interest as a paid consultant to the FIA. The FIA sent out the invitations for the dinner, and these did not record Mr Caborn's paid consultancy. Mr Caborn did not tell guests at the dinner that he was a paid consultant with the FIA, although he thanked the FIA for sponsoring the event.

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraphs 14 and 16 of the Code of Conduct: Use of Facilities and Registration and Declaration. Terms and conditions of the House banqueting service.

523. Mr Caborn said that the mistake on the booking form was an oversight. He was not trying to deceive. For reasons which are not now clear, one booking form was sent to the Refreshment Department by the FIA. Mr Caborn considers that that might explain why his office thought all the relevant information had been sent by the FIA to the banqueting department. Mr Caborn says that his office may have thought that the FIA sending out the invitation satisfied the requirement to declare his financial interest. Mr Caborn accepts that this was clearly an oversight on his part and if there was a mistake, he takes full responsibility.

524. Mr Caborn says that he thought that his registration in the Members' Register of Interests, his name on the invitation, and the thanks he gave in his closing speech to the FIA for sponsoring the dinner, satisfied the House rules. Now that the omission has been brought to his attention, he considers that he should have made specific reference to the sponsorship, to have complied totally with the rules.

xii.  AMEC dinner in the House on 11 May 2009

525. Mr Caborn booked a further dinner in the House on behalf of AMEC; this dinner took place on 11 May 2009. He declared his interest on the booking form for this dinner. There was no formal invitation for this dinner. Mr Caborn thanked AMEC for sponsoring the dinner in his winding up remarks, but made no reference to his paid consultancy for them.

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraphs 14 and 16 of the Code of Conduct: Use of Facilities and Registration and Declaration. Terms and conditions of the House banqueting service.

526. Mr Caborn says that guests at the dinner were invited by him from those who had attended an AMEC Terrace Reception on the same day. He says that he thanked AMEC for sponsoring the dinner, which was small, and that most of those attending knew of his consultancy for AMEC but he cannot recall specifically spelling that out.

527. The Director of Catering and Retail Services says that if no formal invitations were issued for this event, this does not remove the responsibility of Mr Caborn, as Sponsor, to declare to attendees that he had a relevant interest relating to his sponsorship of the dinner.

xiii.  AMEC meeting with Prime Ministers

Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter, "If Samir Brikho wants to see the Prime Minister, Samir Brikho sees the Prime Minister."[437] In answer to the question from the reporter "And do you help him arrange that or does he do that?" Mr Caborn answered: "Yes I do it ..."[438]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

528. Mr Caborn says that he was making the point that chairmen of major companies get access as of right to both the PM and Ministers. He says he never arranged one to one meetings for Samir Brikho or any other industrialists with the Prime Minister or any other Ministers.

xiv.  Payments

Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter that his current clients "pay me two and a half thousand pounds a day."[439]

Relevant rule of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration

529. Mr Caborn says that the notional daily rate for his work with AMEC was £2,500 per day and £1,000 per day for the FIA. He says that he uses the word "notional" as a significant amount of time is required in preparing for meetings, reading background papers and preparing Reports—this was all built into the daily rate. Mr Caborn estimates that these days amounted to between two to three days per fee paid day. He says that all this was fully covered in his entry in the Registers of Members' Financial Interests.

RT HON ADAM INGRAM: MY INQUIRIES

530. I wrote to Mr Ingram, who was also the subject of Mr Hands' complaint,[440] on 31 March.[441] I asked Mr Ingram to give me a full account of the circumstances in which he had come to be interviewed by someone who turned out to be a journalist. I also asked Mr Ingram to confirm a number of particular statements he had been reported as having made during that interview, and whether each such statement had been true. The statements concerned were:

  • that Mr Ingram had said, "There's going to be a lot of ex-Ministers … and they then become a point of contact in the political network. 'Who do you know in that Department? Who can you suggest to talk to?' And that becomes a point of contact. So all of that can be established"[442] and, if true, what he had meant in apparently suggesting a network of former Ministers who could be used to arrange contacts;
  • that Mr Ingram had said that "It's worth it, sometimes cultivating a Minister … but decision-makers really … are the civil service structure, because they do all the definition of how you're going to deliver on a particular project. They draw up invitations to tender, they then make all the recommendations which may not cross the Minister's desk";[443]
  • that he had said that he had good contacts with civil servants from his time as a Minister[444] and, if true, what Mr Ingram had had in mind in making this statement; if he had ever had contacts with civil servants on behalf of a client; and if so, what the circumstances had been and whether he had declared his interest;
  • that Mr Ingram was helping to put together a consortium to bid for work that the Ministry of Defence outsources to private companies[445] and, if true, whether he had been paid for these services and whether they had involved him in contacts with Ministers or civil servants and, if so, what the circumstances had been and whether Mr Ingram had declared an interest;
  • that Mr Ingram had been involved in two British firms which were helping to create a defence academy in Libya[446] and, if true, what the circumstances had been, whether he had been paid or expected to be paid for these services, and whether they had involved him in meetings with Ministers or civil servants on behalf of the clients and, if so, what the circumstances had been and whether Mr Ingram had declared his interest;
  • whether Mr Ingram had arranged for another firm to supply the Libyan academy's teachers[447] and, if so, what the circumstances had been, whether he had been paid for these services, whether they had involved meetings with Ministers and civil servants on behalf of his client and, if so, whether Mr Ingram had declared an interest; and
  • that Mr Ingram had said that he was paid £1,500 a day for his consultancy work[448] and, if so, what payments Mr Ingram had received from his clients at this level and whether he had registered all of those payments.

531. I also asked Mr Ingram to confirm what subsequent communications he or his legal advisers had had with the reporters; whether, if any of the allegations were true, Mr Ingram considered he had an obligation to make a Register entry or declaration, or both, in respect of any financial interest he had in these alleged activities and what action he had taken accordingly; and if any of what Mr Ingram had said had been untrue, why he had spoken as he had done. Finally, I told Mr Ingram that I was inviting the Channel 4 programme makers to let me have his full interview.

532. I did not continue my inquiries during the Dissolution of the House. On the assembly of the new Parliament on 18 May, I resumed my inquiry. On 27 May I received the certified transcripts of Mr Ingram's conversations with the undercover reporter. I wrote to Mr Ingram on 2 June, attaching the transcripts.[449]

533. I asked Mr Ingram to provide me with a list of the companies which he had worked for in 2009-10, and for confirmation that these had been fully registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I noted that in the transcript Mr Ingram referred to his work for EDS. He said that "my arrangement with them is that I would only do work on an MP and then it would probably come to the end of the arrangement."[450] I noted that he had suggested that he was meeting the "new people" shortly to talk through whether they wanted him to continue. I asked Mr Ingram why he had expected to stop this work once he was no longer a Member of Parliament, and whether that was an appointment linked to his membership of the House. If so, I asked him to confirm that he had taken the appropriate steps in registering that in the Register of Members' Financial Interests.

534. I noted that during the meeting with the undercover reporter he had discussed the identification of former civil servants who, I assumed, might join the proposed advisory board.[451] I asked Mr Ingram to explain how, as a Member of Parliament, he had maintained his relationships with civil servants, and whether he had done so in order to recommend them for future employment opportunities once they had left the civil service. I also noted that in the transcript he was recorded as confirming that he would work with the company to help them develop relationships with Ministers and civil servants.[452] I asked Mr Ingram what he had in mind in making that undertaking.

535. I said that the transcript recorded Mr Ingram's comment that he would be talking to a Conservative colleague whom he believed was likely to become the Defence Minister in a future Conservative administration.[453] I asked whether the implication of that was that he would use that contact to the benefit of a company which might employ him on its advisory board. Finally, I asked Mr Ingram to confirm the date of his interview with the undercover reporter.

536. Mr Ingram wrote to me on 28 June.[454] He noted that in his letter to me of 28 March Mr Hands[455] had quoted Mr Ingram as admitting to using his contacts and experience to help a construction company he worked for carry out a defence project in Libya. Mr Ingram also noted Mr Hands' allegation that, when asked if he could use his experience to develop relationships with ministers and civil servants, Mr Ingram had said, "I'd do that".

537. Responding, Mr Ingram said that it was "clearly stated" in the Guidelines of Business Appointments System for Former Ministers, under Annex A, that: "It is in the public interest that former Ministers with experience in Government should be able to move into business...." Mr Ingram maintained that all of his actions and activities, since leaving Ministerial office in 2007, were wholly consistent with that guidance. "Furthermore, I have fully complied with the requirement to seek advice and to properly register my business interests with the appropriate House authorities, at all times."

538. Mr Ingram said that it had been made clear to the undercover reporter that "I did not believe it appropriate to carry out lobbying activities while I remained a Member of Parliament nor have I ever done so since leaving Ministerial office in 2007. The Sunday Times article accepted this in their report."

539. Mr Ingram said that in the run-up to the interview, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request had been submitted to the Ministry of Defence in relation to the companies with which he had a registered relationship. He attached a copy of the FOI request and the MOD's response.[456]

540. Mr Ingram said that the record was clear on this point, and that he did not lobby on behalf of any companies he was considering working with after he had left Parliament. He said that he did not accept that his conduct during the interview was contrary to the rules. Mr Ingram said that if the public had been made aware by the Sunday Times that it was perfectly acceptable, indeed in the public interest, for former Ministers to move into business that might have helped their readership better understand the nature of his engagement in seeking employment after he had left Parliament. "In working within the spirit and meaning of that guideline, I do not accept that I brought the House of Commons 'into disrepute'."

541. He said that Mr Hands claimed that he (Mr Ingram) had "admitted" to using his "contacts and experience" to help a construction company he worked for "carry out a defence project in Libya". Mr Ingram responded: "Libya is a country of strategic and economic importance to the UK." Mr Ingram said that he was "at a loss to understand what he [Mr Hands] is insinuating. It is in the UK's national interest to engage with Libya. My work for these companies, which are part of a consortium bringing valuable business to the UK, was fully and properly registered. The efforts of these companies were fully supported by the UK Embassy in Libya. The transcript shows that I did not 'admit' to what Mr Hands alleges."

542. Mr Ingram said that he had no points of contact in Libya gained through his time as a Minister or as a Member of Parliament. He had never visited the country nor met with any representatives of the country during his time as a Minister or as a Member of Parliament. He said the point he had been making was that people in the companies with which he was associated had good points of contact in Libya.

543. Mr Ingram said that Mr Hands had quoted a statement "I allegedly made to the undercover reporter, viz. 'I'd do that' in relation to using my 'experience to develop relationships with Ministers and civil servants'." Mr Ingram said, "I did not make that statement, as the transcript shows".[457]

544. In answer to my letter of 31 March[458] Mr Ingram said that his researcher in his office had been contacted by Claire Webster, the undercover reporter, purporting to be acting on behalf of a company which wanted to discuss with him the prospect of his taking on a paid role as a member of an Advisory Board which was being set up. Mr Ingram said that he did not initially return the call. A further call had been made to his researcher and the information had been passed to him and he had done a preliminary check on the internet and with Companies House on the company's name—"Anderson Perry". Mr Ingram said that "On the face of it, the company appeared to be a bona fide organisation." Arrangements had been made for the meeting.

545. Mr Ingram confirmed that, to the best of his recollection, he had made the statement that "There's going to be a lot of ex-Ministers … and they then become a point of contact in the political network .... So all of that can be established." Mr Ingram said that given the fact that under the guidelines of the Appointments System for Former Ministers it was in the public interest that "former Ministers with experience in Government should be able to move into business...", it would not be unusual for former Ministerial colleagues to maintain points of contact if they had mutual interests to pursue. He said that this statement had been made in the context of his being asked possibly to give advice "outside of my knowledge base." He said he did not think there was "anything remiss in contacting former Ministerial colleagues for advice on personalities and structures within a particular Department." He said that he did not accept that he was in any way suggesting that a formal network be set up to be used "to arrange contacts".

546. Mr Ingram said that, in using the words "It's worthwhile sometimes cultivating a Minister … but decision-makers really … are the civil service structure, because they do all the definition of how you're going to deliver on a particular project. They draw up invitation to tender, they then make all the recommendations which Ministers may accept/go across a Minister's desk",[459] he had been expressing a statement of fact that it was the civil service structure which brought together particular procurement decisions. He said that it was "therefore desirable for companies to make themselves known to civil servants and to Ministers. This is normal practice and one adopted by companies involved in a procurement process. Many of those who do this on behalf of companies may indeed be former civil servants or Ministers." Mr Ingram said that he did not have contact with civil servants on behalf of clients and did not lobby on their behalf. If he had done so he would have declared an interest as appropriate.

547. Mr Ingram said that he had not claimed that he was helping to put together a consortium to bid for work which the MOD outsourced to private companies.[460] The transcript merely confirmed his knowledge of what was being put together, "not that I was at that stage actively part of it or instrumental in it." He had been contacted by a business acquaintance outlining what he was putting together and enquiring as to whether he would be interested in becoming involved after he had left Parliament. Mr Ingram said the he had done no work for the project and "I have no knowledge of its maturity." He had received no payment and had had no contact with Ministers or civil servants about the project. It was a short discussion about a possible future appointment after he had left Parliament.

548. Mr Ingram said that he had two registered interests with companies which had been successful, as part of a wider UK consortium, in winning a contract for the design and planning phase of an Engineering/Defence Academy for the Libyan Government. He had provided advice on the range of activities undertaken in the UK in this area. The payments he had received were properly registered. "I was never involved in meetings with Ministers or civil servants on behalf of the clients. If I had been, these would have been registered, as appropriate." Mr Ingram said that the "Academy" had not been built and it therefore had not been populated by the students or instructors/teachers. "There is a future prospect that another company with which I am involved and in which my interest has been registered, is likely to have an interest in obtaining contracts in this area." He said that he had never been involved in meetings with Ministers or civil servants on behalf of his clients in this regard.

549. He said that he had registered all companies with which he had been involved. All potential earnings had also been properly registered as required. "I maintain that I have, at all times, properly registered all companies with which I have a financial interest. I have not undertaken any other registrable work, paid or unpaid, outside of those companies listed in my Register of Interests."

550. Mr Ingram said that he had said nothing untrue in the meeting with the undercover reporter.

551. Mr Ingram provided me with a list of the companies he had worked for in 2009-10.[461] They had all been fully registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. He said that he wished to make it clear that he had been working with EDS as a consultant, not in his capacity as a Member of Parliament. He said he had agreed with the company that the best mutual date to review his ongoing contract was when he was standing down as a Member of Parliament. It had been a natural review date because he was looking at his retirement options in terms of the amount of time he would be in London. EDS had been acquired by Hewlett Packard during this time. He had continued to provide consultancy advice to EDS. New senior executives had been appointed with whom he met almost immediately prior to the Dissolution of Parliament. Mr Ingram said that he continued to be available to give advice to the company when requested to do so.

552. Mr Ingram said that after he had stood down as a Minister in June 2007, he had been asked by the Prime Minister to lead a study into "Defence's Contribution to Counter-Terrorism and Resilience." This had been in an unpaid capacity. During that time, he had had extensive contact with civil servants across Whitehall. He had presented his Report to the Prime Minister in the autumn of 2008. From October 2009, he had undertaken an Audit of his Report which, again, had brought him into contact with civil servants, and had reported to the Prime Minister in March 2010. Mr Ingram said that he had also undertaken a range of unpaid activities at the request of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) and the Defence Academy at Shrivenham. He said that civil servants would have been involved in those events. In addition, he had spoken to PhD students at Kings College, London, on his role and time as a Defence Minister. "I have not maintained any other relationships, formal or informal, with senior civil servants, and certainly not in order to recommend them for future employment opportunities once they had left the Civil Service." Mr Ingram said he had provided references, on a limited number of occasions, at the request of individuals who were seeking employment after leaving Government service.

553. Mr Ingram said that the interview with the undercover reporter had been set up to discuss his possible engagement as a member of an advisory board. Despite having no experience of doing what he was being asked to do on a paid basis, he said he could envisage seeking to speak to ministers or civil servants or to participate in meetings about a client's interests. "My failure to elaborate further, as the transcript bears out, was probably because I was considering the practicalities of such an approach. I do not accept the emphasis put on it by the undercover journalist or by Greg Hands, and, in any event, it would have been undertaken after I left Parliament. The words I used —'I could work at that'[462]—have a very different meaning to the fabricated quote by the undercover journalist—'I'd do that'. The subsequent exchange with the undercover journalist involved my making non-committal responses to her leading suggestions."

554. Mr Ingram said that the discussion about contacts with the likely Defence Minister in a Conservative government was about providing advice, on request, on his experience as a Defence Minister. "I would have been prepared to do so because I care about good governance and about the Ministry of Defence. I was not suggesting that such a contact would be used in the way phrased in your question." Mr Ingram said that the individual concerned had not in the event been appointed as a Coalition Government Minister.

555. Mr Ingram said that he could not confirm the exact date of the interview.

556. In conclusion, Mr Ingram reiterated the points he had made earlier that "I have complied with the rules and regulations laid down by the House authorities, in relation to my business appointments. I always erred on the side of caution in all of my dealings. The evidence of the FOI request[463] clearly shows that I did not breach the rules and regulations relating to lobbying. I participated in the interview on the basis that I was being considered as a member of an advisory board although clearly there was an underlying agenda of entrapment. I do not believe I offered to do anything as a Member of Parliament which would have required me to register an interest. There was no formal follow-up to the initial interview and no formal offer made of employment in any capacity relating to my time as a Member of Parliament. As a consequence, I believe that the complaint made by Greg Hands is unfounded and should be dismissed."

557. Mr Ingram attached to his letter the Ministry of Defence's response of 26 February 2010 to a Freedom of Information request which had sought "details of meetings, communications and contracts" between Mr Ingram and the following companies, during various periods from 2001 onwards:

a)  Signpoint Secure Ltd

b)  International School for Security and Explosives Education (ISSEE)

c)  Argus Scotland Ltd

d)  Argus Libya UK LLP

e)  Electronic Data Systems (EDS)

f)  Ingram Advisory Ltd [464]

558. The response said that records relating to meetings and correspondence had only been held from 2004 onwards. It said that between 1 January 2004 and 29 June 2007 there had been no meetings or correspondence between Adam Ingram MP or his office and the companies referred to.

559. The response also said that there had been no communications or meetings between Adam Ingram MP and Departmental Ministers since 29 June 2007 regarding any of these companies. It continued that "Any communications between the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and those companies not involving Ministers could only be identified at disproportionate cost."

560. The Ministry's response also said that since 29 June 2007 one MOD contract had been placed with ISSEE and that the value of the contract had been less than £10,000. The response said that the Ministry was withholding further details of the contract under s.43 of the FOI Act (Commercial interests); as this was a qualified exemption it was required to carry out a public interest test.

561. I wrote to Mr Ingram on 1 July.[465] I asked him what advice he had sought from whom about his business interests, and whether that advice related to the nature of his outside employment when he had been a Member of Parliament. In relation to the alleged network of former Ministers, I asked Mr Ingram whether he had used his contacts with Ministers, former Ministers or civil servants in order to advise any of his clients about structures and people in a government department. I noted that he said that he did not accept that he had in any way suggested that a formal network be set up. I told Mr Ingram, in the light of that, that I was having some difficulty in interpreting the point he had made in the transcript, when he said, "some are going to lose their seats and they're become a point of contact in the political network … so all of that … can be established … it can take a bit of time to build those blocks …"[466] I asked Mr Ingram why it should not be inferred from this that he had been suggesting a network of contacts of former MPs (and in particular ex-Ministers) which he would build over time.

562. I noted that Mr Ingram said that he "did not have contact with civil servants on behalf of clients". I noted also that the FOI request to the Ministry of Defence about Mr Ingram did not identify any contact he had had with Ministers. I recalled that my original question was about contacts with Ministers as well as civil servants, and I said I would be grateful if he could let me know whether he had had any contact with Ministers from 2007 on behalf of any of his clients or on matters which might be of assistance to those clients.

563. I said that Mr Ingram had stated that the payments he had received from the company in a contract for the engineering/defence academy for the Libyan Government were properly registered, and asked him to confirm that this statement related to Argus Libya UK, which appeared in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. Similarly, I asked him to identify the Register entry in respect of his interest in the company providing instructors/teachers for the Libyan engineering/defence academy.

564. I noted that Mr Ingram said that he had worked with EDS as a consultant and not in his capacity as an MP. I told Mr Ingram that I had consulted the Registrar of Members' Financial Interests about this and that she had told me that he had registered a salary band and deposited an agreement for the provision of services for EDS. I attached a copy of the relevant Register entry and agreement, and noted that these fulfilled the requirements of the rules for those undertaking work in the capacity of an MP.[467] I asked Mr Ingram to explain how he reconciled this with his statement that he had not been working in his capacity as an MP, and asked him to give me a little more detail about the work he had carried out for EDS. I noted that the agreement he had deposited contained only the information required by the rules of the House, and asked him whether he also had a contract with EDS, and if so whether I could see it. I also asked Mr Ingram whether he was currently paid a retainer by EDS so that they could draw on his services, and whether he continued to have a contract with them.

565. I referred Mr Ingram to his statement that he had not maintained any other relationships, formal or informal, with senior civil servants, and certainly not in order to recommend them for future employment. I asked him to help me in reconciling that statement with his statement in the meeting with the undercover reporter, where he said, during a discussion on civil servants who might be approached for the fictional advisory board: "I think I know all of them and … some of them are very good strategic planners, good thinkers, and well-trained in command and control … and just think logically." And: "There's a lot [of] duffers in there but I've got some there [MOD] in mind".[468] I asked Mr Ingram whether that did not suggest that he had offered to identify possible members for the advisory board from recently retired civil servants whom he had known in a Government department, which I took to be the Ministry of Defence.

566. I asked Mr Ingram whether it would be reasonable for me to draw from his letter of 28 June that, now that he had left Parliament, he would be ready to use the contacts he had built up as a Member of Parliament and former Minister to contact and maintain relations with current Ministers and civil servants on behalf of his clients.

567. I noted, in relation to Mr Ingram's answers to my questions about contacts with the likely Conservative Defence Minister, that he had said that he was "not suggesting that such a contact would be used in the way phrased in your question". I explained that my original question had been whether he had been offering to the company as a contact the Member who might become a Conservative Defence Minister (but in the event had not). I said that I had some difficulty in otherwise interpreting what he had said in the meeting with the undercover reporter. I said that the question had been whether a Conservative Government would affect Mr Ingram or the things he could deliver. I noted that in his answer, he referred to the person whom he had thought then was likely to become a Defence Minister who, once he became a Minister, wanted to come and talk to him because "I'll give him good advice".[469] I noted that he had said then that he tended to talk to people and that he talked to "Tory Opposition Members".[470] He had concluded this section by saying, "So I don't know if that's of interest to you."[471] I asked Mr Ingram whether it would not be a reasonable inference from those exchanges that he had thought that his contacts with Conservative Members, in particular the individual he had identified, might be of interest to Anderson Perry, and that that interest would stem from the contact he might create between that company and the putative Conservative Defence Minister.

568. Finally, I noted that Mr Ingram did not have the exact date of the interview. I asked him whether he had been able to check his diary for earlier this year and, if so, whether an entry had been made in his diary for this interview, and, if not, why no entry had been made for this appointment.

569. Mr Ingram wrote to me on 7 July.[472] He told me that he had sought advice from the appropriate House authorities about the procedures and rules applicable to obtaining clearance to take up outside employment and the way in which those interests should be registered. He said that he had not used any contacts with Ministers, former Ministers or civil servants to advise his clients about structures and people in a Government Department. He had used his own knowledge in this regard to provide such advice.

570. Mr Ingram noted that in my original question to him in my letter of 31 March,[473] I had asked him to explain his comments about the possible establishment of a network of former Ministers who could be used to "arrange contacts". He had explained that he could see nothing wrong in contacting former colleagues to obtain advice on personalities and structures within a particular Department. That would take place only after he had left Parliament, and would not contradict advice in the Appointments System for former Ministers which stated that former Ministers with experience in Government should be able to move into business. Mr Ingram said: "Political and business networking is perfectly legitimate and a common feature of business interface with Government."

571. Mr Ingram said that the response to the Freedom of Information (F0I) request from the Ministry of Defence made it clear that there had been "no communications or meetings between Adam Ingram MP and Departmental Ministers since 29 June 2007 regarding any of those companies".[474] He confirmed that Argus Libya UK had been the company involved in a contract for the engineering/defence academy for the Libyan Government from whom he had received and properly registered payments. He reiterated his former response that the Libyan academy had not been built and that therefore there was no company with which he was currently involved which was "providing instructors/teachers" to the academy. He had explained that the academy was a future business prospect. The company to which he had referred was the International School for Security and Explosives Education (ISSEE).

572. Mr Ingram said that I had asked him how he could reconcile his entry in the Register of Members' Financial Interests in relation to EDS with his statement that he was not providing services to the company in my capacity as a Member of Parliament. He told me that in his response of 28 June, he had advised me that "I always erred on the side of caution in all my outside employment dealings." He said his understanding of the rules was that service in the capacity of a Member of Parliament was usually taken to mean advice on any parliamentary matter or services connected with any parliamentary proceedings or otherwise related to the House. Mr Ingram said "I did not provide such services to EDS although the registered entry would have allowed me to do so." He attached a copy of his contract with EDS, pointing out that the contract was between EDS and "Adam Ingram, Director, Adam Ingram Advisory Ltd".[475]

573. In response to my request for more detail about the work he had carried out for EDS, Mr Ingram said that initially he had been engaged in familiarising himself with the company's structures and key project managers. He told me that he had provided them with analysis on the structure of Government and the role of Ministers; the interface between Ministers and senior civil servants and his assessment of developments in Government thinking based on his political analysis. In the main, those meetings had been "of a strategic nature." He had not been paid a retainer by EDS during that time, nor did he receive such payment now. Mr Ingram said that the contract had not been formally terminated and he believed that he would continue to be bound by it if asked to provide future services to the company.

574. Mr Ingram told me that his comments on civil servants who could be suitable for future employment should be taken in conjunction with the comments he had made in response to the undercover reporter's request for suggested names of former civil servants. He had stated then that he could not provide such names "off the top of my head". He said he believed "this clearly indicates that I did not maintain a checklist of individuals whom I would be prepared to recommend for future employment."

575. Mr Ingram said he had said before that he could envisage seeking to speak to Ministers or civil servants about a client's interest. "That remains my position which I believe to be wholly consistent with the view of the House authorities that it is in the public interest for former Ministers to move into business. I have not maintained such a contact list and instead would use publicly-available information if I was trying to establish contact for a particular purpose."

576. Mr Ingram said that the interview with the undercover reporter took place in the context of his suitability to become a member of an advisory board of a company. "It is hardly surprising that I tried to show my breadth of experience, the respect in which I was held across the political spectrum and the willingness of others to trust my objective advice and judgement." He said that his use of the phrase "So I don't know if that's of interest to you",[476] fell within the category of setting out his "wider attributes" and in the context of his wish to see "good governance irrespective of which party is in office."

577. Mr Ingram said that the reason he could not give me the exact date of the interview was simply because he had not kept the diary details. The arrangements for the interview had been made with him and not through his constituency office. From memory, Mr Ingram said that it had been held on either 9 or 10 March.

578. I wrote to Mr Ingram on 15 July, asking him to clear up a number of points.[477] I said that I had noted that he had consulted "the appropriate House authorities" about rules for clearance and registration. I asked him to identify the officials he had consulted and when, so that I could consider approaching them.

579. I told Mr Ingram that I noted that he had used his own knowledge to advise his clients about structures and people in government Departments. I asked him whether I would be right in assuming that that knowledge had drawn on his experience as a Minister and his continuing contacts as an MP with Ministers and civil servants. If that was not so, I asked Mr Ingram to let me know on what his knowledge was based and how it had been kept up to date.

580. I said to Mr Ingram that I assumed from his response that he did intend to use his network of contacts which he had built up as a Member and Minister to assist his current and any future clients now that he had left Parliament. I noted, however, that he did not have a specific (and, I assumed, separate) list of such contacts and that he did not intend to imply in the discussion with the undercover reporter that he would be setting up a formal network to arrange contacts. I said that I had not myself formed a view on the propriety of his contacting former colleagues to get advice for his clients on personalities and structures in Departments, and noted that he saw nothing wrong in this. At this stage I was simply asking him to confirm my understanding of his intentions.

581. I asked Mr Ingram whether he had specifically taken advice from the Registrar of Members' Financial Interests about his Register entry in relation to EDS, and, in particular, his decision to register his salary band and the agreement for services. I said I was now consulting the Registrar about this. I told Mr Ingram I had noted the terms of his contract, including that he was paid a daily rate of £1,500 and that the contract included the provision about advocacy which he had submitted to the Registrar.

582. I noted that "in the main" the meetings Mr Ingram had had with EDS were of a "strategic nature". I asked Mr Ingram whether the advice he had provided for EDS had been exclusively oral advice at meetings, or whether he had prepared papers for them. I asked him to whom his advice was given, and whether he had provided more specific and less strategic advice at any time. If so, I asked him what it covered.

583. I told Mr Ingram that I had noted that he had not maintained a "checklist" of people to recommend for appointments to boards. I said that the question I had asked in my letter of 1 July was whether he had been offering to identify possible members for the advisory board from recently retired civil servants whom he knew in a Government Department, which I had taken to be the Ministry of Defence. I had noted that he had not given names at the meeting with the undercover reporter. I said that he had appeared to suggest that he had names in mind. In any event, I asked him to confirm that he had indeed been offering to identify such people. I said that I should make clear that at this stage I was not suggesting that there had been an impropriety in his doing so. That would be a matter for me to consider once my inquiries were concluded.

584. I noted that Mr Ingram could envisage speaking to Ministers or civil servants about a client's interest and that he would use publicly available information, as he did not have a "contact list". I said I was finding this argument a little difficult to follow. It would be unusual for someone in public life not to keep the names and numbers of their contacts in an address book or its electronic equivalent. I asked Mr Ingram whether he was suggesting that he did not keep details of such contacts, and that, even if he had kept such a contact list, he would not consult it if he wished to contact a Government Minister or a senior civil servant. Again, I said that I was not suggesting at this stage any impropriety in such actions. That would be a matter for me to consider once my inquiries were completed.

585. I said I noted Mr Ingram's point about setting out his wider attributes and the references to good governance which he had made at this point in the interview. But I said that in that part of the interview which was specifically about whether a Conservative Government would change his role on the advisory board, it appeared that Mr Ingram was making clear that he had had good contacts with Conservative Members, including the particular Member whom he thought at that stage might become a Defence Minister, and that, in the interests of good governance, he expected to give advice to that Minister. As a result, I said that it might seem that he had suggested that he would be able to bring to the advisory board his contacts with Conservatives, on the assumption that there would be a Conservative Government. Again, I said I was not suggesting at that stage any impropriety, which I would need to consider at the conclusion of my inquiries. I simply wanted to be clear on the implications of what he had been saying in the discussion. If I was wrong to draw these inferences from what he appeared to have been saying, I asked him to let me know, and why.

586. Mr Ingram wrote to me on 27 August.[478] He said that prior to taking up a role with the companies concerned, he had sought clearance from the Office of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. He had received clearance from Lord Mayhew, the Committee Chairman, in a letter dated 14 January 2008, advising him that "it would be proper" for him to take appointments with three companies about which he had enquired, namely, Signpoint Secure Ltd, Argus Scotland Ltd and Argus Libya UK Ltd. He had received a further letter from the Committee, dated 27 March 2008, signed by the Secretary to the Committee that they could "see no reason" why he should not take up appointments with EDS Inc. and the International School for Security and Explosives Education (ISSEE). Following receipt of those letters and after consultation with the Registrar for Members Interests about the most appropriate listing for those appointments, he had duly registered his interests and notified the Secretary to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments that he had taken up the appointments.

587. On the question whether he had drawn upon his experience as a Minister in providing advice to the companies with which he had been involved, Mr Ingram confirmed that he did so, and said he believed that to be consistent with the guidelines for former Ministers.

588. As to whether he had used his continuing contacts as a Member of Parliament with Ministers and civil servants in the interests of those companies, Mr Ingram told me that he believed it had been established that he had not lobbied on behalf of those companies despite having clearance from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments to do so, if he had so wished, any time after one year of leaving office.

589. In response to my question how he had kept his "knowledge" up to date, Mr Ingram noted that, "with the exception of my appointment with EDS, I had taken on the role of director with the other companies. That required a range of skills and attributes not necessarily connected to my previous role as a Minister."

590. Mr Ingram said that he could "envisage" using contacts made during his time as a Minister. "Many companies engage former Ministers and civil servants for that very purpose. The capacity to ask people for advice is not unique to me and is recognised as part of the guidelines for former Ministers that it is in the public interest for them to move into business."

591. Mr Ingram said that he had taken advice from the Registrar of Members' Financial Interests about his Register entry in relation to EDS. All advice given to EDS had been oral; he had not made any written submissions to them. The advice had been given to a range of account executives and their senior staff. He had had regular meetings with the senior personnel responsible for the company's public affairs. "The only non-strategic advice I would have given would have been about the role and responsibilities of a Member of Parliament, stressing the importance of keeping good relations between company representatives and local Members of Parliament in the areas where the company had a presence."

592. In answer to my question whether he would be prepared to suggest names of civil servants for possible employment, Mr Ingram said that "I was not offering myself as a head-hunter, for payment or otherwise. I would be prepared, however, to offer my best advice on the qualities of people I knew in Government. " Mr Ingram reiterated that he did not have a "contact list", in either address book or electronic form, of Ministers or civil servants. He said that he had made no offer to bring to the bogus advisory board his contacts with Conservatives on the assumption that there would be a change of Government. What he had said in response to the direct question posed to him by the bogus company representative was that "I had credibility as a Defence Minister which I believed could transcend a change of Government. I believe that my credibility and knowledge was recognised across the political spectrum, based on my service as a Defence Minister for over six years. There can be no question that this would allow me to talk to Members of Parliament of parties other than my own, in Government or not, from a position of strength, an attribute which would have been available to the bogus advisory board."

593. I wrote to Mr Ingram on 2 September.[479] I noted that he had addressed the question in my letter to him of 15 July about the basis for the knowledge he had used to advise his clients on the structures and people in government departments. I had not been suggesting that he had lobbied such people, but was simply seeking to clarify whether he had used his continuing contacts with Ministers and with civil servants to advise his clients about structures and people in government departments. I said I was assuming that he had done so. If he had rejected that assumption, then I was asking how he managed to keep up to date the advice he had given to his clients about structures and people in government departments. I said I had not been asking how he had kept up to date his knowledge on wider issues. I asked Mr Ingram, therefore, to confirm whether he had used his continuing contacts with Ministers and civil servants to keep up to date the advice he gave his clients about structures and people in government departments. I told him that this would be consistent with the more general account he had given that he would envisage using contacts made during his time as a Minister. Again, I said I would need to come to my own view on what he had said about this, and I said that he should not draw from this that I was suggesting there was any impropriety in the way he advised his clients on these matters.

594. I told Mr Ingram that I had noted that he did not have a "contact list" of Ministers or civil servants, either in address book or electronic form. But what I had been asking was whether he had kept the details of Ministers and civil servants in some form, either in hard copy or electronically, and whether he would refer to it if he had wished to identify or contact such people. I said I was not sure whether he wished me to take from his reply that he did not have any names, addresses, or contact numbers of Ministers, former Ministers or civil servants in any list of personal contacts kept by him and, if he wished to contact such people, relied only on public records.

595. Meanwhile, I had written to the Registrar of Members' Financial Interests on 15 July.[480] I summarised the relevant evidence given me by Mr Ingram. In the light of this, I asked the Registrar whether Mr Ingram had at any time consulted her about his registration entries for his remunerated employment and, if so, when and what those discussions had been about. I also asked, in respect of Mr Ingram's employment with EDS, the Registrar's view, in light of the information provided to me by Mr Ingram, as to whether he had been required within the provisions of the Guide to the Rules to register his payment band and lodge with her his agreement for services.

596. I wrote again to the Registrar of Members' Financial Interests on 2 September, telling her that I had now heard back from Mr Ingram with further information about his contacts with her.[481] I asked the Registrar if she could take this into account in preparing her response to my letter of 15 July.

597. The Registrar wrote to me on 9 September.[482] She first addressed the issue of whether at any time Mr Ingram had consulted her about his registration entries for his remunerated employment and if so when and what those discussions were about. She said she had gone back in Mr Ingram's file to the point at which he had ceased to be a Minister in July 2007. She attached relevant correspondence.[483]

598. The Registrar said that on 12 July 2007 she had written to Mr Ingram noting that he no longer held ministerial office, saying that it might be that he was now thinking of taking up outside employment, pointing out that the rules might have changed since he was last in a position to do this and offering advice should he require it. She had indicated that general guidance was available in the Code of Conduct and in the procedural and advice notes. On 10 March 2008 Mr Ingram had sent the Registrar's office a copy of an agreement with a company called SignPoint and asking for the employment to be registered. The file contained a draft e-mail from the Executive Officer in her office, including a draft entry.[484]

599. Mr Ingram had written again on 27 June 2008 with copies of agreements with Argus Libya and Argus Scotland, asking for them to be registered. The Registrar said that Mr Ingram must have telephoned the Executive Assistant on 9 July,[485] as her draft e-mail suggested she had e-mailed back "Further to our conversation earlier I attach below your revised entry for the Register. I would be grateful if you could also let me know what the business of the two companies is; I am afraid I forgot to ask you that when we spoke".

600. The Registrar said that Mr Ingram must have telephoned again,[486] as there was a draft e-mail in the file from the Executive Assistant dated 22 July and saying, "Thank you for your call letting me know the description of the two companies. I attach below a revised entry for the next updated internet version of the Register".

601. The first mention of EDS occurred on 21 August 2008 when Mr Ingram had written enclosing an agreement with the company and asked for it to be registered. The Registrar said that this time Mr Ingram had told her office what the company did. Mr Ingram having supplied an agreement with a salary band, the Registrar's office assumed that Mr Ingram had been providing services in the capacity of an MP, since it was only when this was the case that a band and agreement were required. They inserted that salary band in the Register entries.

602. The Registrar said that a draft e-mail to Mr Ingram from the Executive Assistant in her office, dated 2 September 2008, read, "Thank you for your call. I attach your entry for the next updated edition of the Register, which will be produced later this week".[487] Mr Ingram's secretary replied the same day saying, "Thank you [name]. The entry is OK".[488]

603. The Registrar said that the file did not suggest discussions of any length between her office and Mr Ingram. She said that had there been any such lengthy discussions, the Executive Assistant or she would have recorded them, either in a file note or in an e-mail response to Mr Ingram. "It appears that on each occasion including the one relating to EDS we simply complied with his request to make an entry: we did not give him any substantive advice and none was requested."

604. The Registrar then gave her view, in the light of the information provided by Mr Ingram, as to whether he had been required, within the provisions of the rules, to register a salary band and lodge an agreement for the provision of services.

605. The Registrar said that "the rules of the House require that Members undertaking to provide services in the capacity of a Member of Parliament shall obtain a written agreement to that effect, including a standard clause stating that the Member will not be asked to engage in advocacy, and deposit it with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, and register their payment by £5,000 bands. By giving a salary band and providing an agreement, Mr Ingram was informing the reader that he was providing services in the capacity of a Member of Parliament." The Registrar noted that Mr Ingram said that he had not provided services in the capacity of a Member of Parliament but that his Register entry would have allowed him to do so. He had also said that the entry had stated that EDS had expected him to provide advisory services and certain other work as directed by the contract with the company; in fact it was the agreement not the Register entry which referred to project work. The Registrar also noted that Mr Ingram had said that his understanding of the rules was that "services in the capacity of a Member of Parliament is usually taken to be advice on any parliamentary matter or services connected with any parliamentary proceeding or otherwise related to the House". These words were a quotation from the 2009 edition of the Guide to the Rules.

606. The Registrar said that the Guide to the Rules in force at the time Mr Ingram took up the appointment had made no attempt to define or describe "services in the capacity of an MP", though the foreword to the Register of 2005 made illustrative reference to "making representations to a government department, providing advice on parliamentary or public affairs or sponsoring functions in a parliamentary building". She said that had Mr Ingram consulted her in 2008 she would have given him the then-current advice; this had been codified in the 2009 edition of the rules from which Mr Ingram quoted, which had then been in preparation.

607. The Registrar said that neither the agreement deposited by Mr Ingram nor the longer contract with which he had supplied me and which I had sent her gave sufficient detail of the actual work Mr Ingram was carrying out for EDS for her to be able to say that he had indeed been providing services in the capacity of an MP. She noted that in my first letter to her, however,[489] I had told her that Mr Ingram had said to me that "he provided them with an analysis of the structure of government and the role of Ministers; the interface between Ministers and senior civil servants and [his] assessment of developments in Government thinking based on his political analysis". In my second letter I had told her that Mr Ingram had written to me that "the only non-strategic advice I would have given would have been about the role and responsibilities of a Member of Parliament, stressing the importance of keeping good relations between company representatives and local Members Parliament in the areas where the company had a presence". The Registrar said that these two statements, and particularly the second, led her to the conclusion that it had indeed been right that Mr Ingram should have given a salary band and have provided an agreement "because he was providing what I would regard as services in the capacity of a Member of Parliament."

608. The Registrar made two further observations. She noted that Mr Ingram said that he wished to make it clear that he worked for EDS as a consultant and not as an MP. "I should say that the two are not mutually exclusive and the form of his Register entry gave the opposite impression." Secondly, she noted that there was no relationship between the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments and the work of the Registrar's office, though the Registrar said that she would always ask an ex-Minister registering an appointment if s/he had checked with that Committee.

609. I wrote to Mr Ingram on 9 September, saying that I had now heard back from the Registrar and attaching relevant correspondence.[490] I said I would welcome any comments he may wish to make on the Registrar's advice. I said that I might need to note that he had registered that he was providing services in the capacity of a Member of Parliament in the context of what he had told the interviewer including: "I have been doing advisory work, done a lot initially, not so much recently, with the EDS, which is now part of HP, and actually just talking to them about, really just about Government relations and what to look for in Government…There's a kind of standard way in which Governments tend to operate…my arrangement with them is that I would only do work on an MP and then…it would probably come to the end of the arrangement..."[491]

610. Mr Ingram wrote to me on 14 September[492] in response to my letter to him of 2 September.[493] To my question whether he had used continuing contacts with Ministers and with civil servants to advise clients about structures and people in government departments, he responded, "Throughout our correspondence, you have consistently referred to 'clients'. With the exception of EDS and Argus Libya(UK) LLP, I have no other 'clients' ... I did not maintain a continuing contact with Ministers and with civil servants in order to advise 'clients'. The point I was making in ... my letter of 27 August[494] was that I could envisage making contact with people I knew in government after I left Parliament ... I responded in the future tense since that was the context in which you had sought my response in your letter of 15 July. I have made no such contact since leaving Parliament."

611. On the question whether he had kept the details of Ministers and civil servants in some form, either hard copy or electronically, and whether he would refer to it if he wished to identify or contact such people, he said that he had advised me in earlier correspondence that he did not have a comprehensive list of Ministers, past or present, or civil servants. "I have a small circle of friends, built-up over my twenty-three years in Parliament and in government. I maintain contact details of those friends whom I occasionally meet socially. I do not view them as contacts in the context of your enquiry."

612. In a further letter to me of the same day, 14 September, Mr Ingram responded to my letter and enclosures of 9 September about the Registrar's advice.[495] He said he did not have details of when he had contacted the Registrar's office or any notes relating to the advice he had received. "My recollection is that I sought general advice on what was required in the registration of outside financial interests ... The first company I registered was Signpoint Secure Ltd which provided the framework for subsequent entries. When it came to registering subsequent interests, I recollect telephone discussions about the categorisation of the registered interest. I believe that applied to the action I took on the registration of EDS."

613. He said I would note that he provided an agreement for services and a salary band for each of the registered interests. He said that he had noted the comments of the Registrar and "respected" her version of events.

614. With regard to the consultancy services he had provided to EDS, "I maintain that I did not provide advice as a Member of Parliament, either in terms of the pre- or post-2009 guidance as set out in the Registrar's letter to you of 9 September." He said that he appreciated that both I and the Registrar took a different view, "although, as I understand it, you accept that I had properly complied with the relevant registration requirements to allow me to give advice in my capacity as a Member of Parliament."

615. He said that he was clear in his own mind that the understanding he had with EDS was that "I would provide services to them while a Member of Parliament and not as a Member of Parliament ... the natural review of my continuing relationship with the company was at the point of my standing down as a Member of Parliament. The relationship has also changed in part because of the new company structure and new senior executives at EDS."

616. I wrote to Mr Ingram on 20 September.[496] In respect of his response to my letter of 2 September,[497] I said that I was not intending for him to answer whether he had maintained his contacts in order to advise his clients—in other words those whose employment by him he had registered—but whether he used those continuing contacts (among other things) to keep up to date the advice he gave to those who employed him. I said that in his letter, he had told me that he had made no such contact since leaving Parliament, but he had made no comment on the position while he was still a Member. I said that unless he wished to clarify the situation, I would simply record that he had not given me an answer about whether, while he was a Member of Parliament, he drew on his continuing contacts with Ministers, former Ministers and civil servants when he gave advice to those who employed him during that time. I said I would then come to my own conclusions on that matter.

617. Similarly, I said I would note that, in the context of my inquiry, he maintained contact details only of those whom he regarded as his friends, built up over 23 years in Parliament and in government. I said that he had not told me if any of those were Ministers, former Ministers or civil servants and that he had also not told me whether he would use that list if he wished to contact any of them on behalf of those who employed him now that he had left Parliament. I said that again, subject to any points of clarification he wished to make, I would need to come to my own conclusions on this.

618. In respect of the registration question, I said that I should make clear that I had sent him the advice of the Registrar. I said I had not yet come to my own conclusion on this and would not wish to do so until I had given him an opportunity to comment on the Registrar's advice. I said I saw from his comment that he respected her version of events about the advice he had sought from her office. I said I assumed that the use of the word "respect" means that he fell short of accepting fully that version.

619. I noted that despite registering his work for EDS as if he were providing services in his capacity as a Member of Parliament, he did not accept that he was in fact doing so—arguing that he was providing services while a Member but not as a Member. I said I would of course note the distinction he had drawn and would need to come to my own conclusions on that.

620. Mr Ingram wrote to me on 28 September.[498] He said, "I can confirm that I did not draw upon any contacts I may have had with Ministers, former Ministers or civil servants to give advice to those who employed me while I was a Member of Parliament."

621. He said he believed it was implicit in his response set out in his letter of 14 September that amongst his "circle of friends" would have been Ministers, former Ministers and civil servants. "I further stated that I did not view them as 'contacts' in the context of your inquiry. You now ask whether I would use that list to contact them on behalf of those who now employ me. I have not done so and I cannot envisage any circumstances in which I would."

622. Finally, in respect of the registration question, he said that he was satisfied that he had received sufficient information from the Registrar's office to assist him in properly registering his various interests in terms of the rules and regulations applicable at that time.

FINDINGS OF FACT

623. In February 2010 Mr Ingram's office received an approach from the undercover reporter, claiming to represent Anderson Perry. During an initial telephone conversation, Mr Ingram and the undercover reporter agreed to meet.

624. Mr Ingram met the undercover reporter on 9 or 10 March 2010. His view is that he participated in the meeting on the basis that he was being considered as a member of an advisory board although he says that there was an underlying agenda of entrapment. He does not believe he offered to do anything as a Member of Parliament which would have required him to register an interest. Mr Ingram says that there was no formal follow-up to the initial interview and no formal offer made of employment in any capacity relating to his time as a Member of Parliament.

Issues subject to inquiry

i.  Network of former Ministers

625. Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter: "There's going to be a lot of ex-Ministers … and they're become a point [of] contact in the political network ... So all of that can be established." [499]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

626. Mr Ingram says that, given the fact that under the ACOBA guidelines for former ministers it is in the public interest that "former Ministers with experience in Government should be able to move into business...", it would not be unusual for former Ministerial colleagues to maintain points of contact. That would have taken place only after he had left Parliament. He does not think there is anything remiss in contacting former Ministerial colleagues for advice on personalities and structures within a particular Department, and he does not accept that he was in any way suggesting that a formal network be set up to be used "to arrange contacts".[500]

627. Mr Ingram says that he has not maintained a contact list of Ministers and civil servants and instead would use publicly-available information if he was trying to establish contact for a particular purpose. He says he has some Ministerial and civil service contacts among his personal friends, but he would not envisage contacting them for anyone employing him.

ii.  Contacting civil servants

628. Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter that "It's worth it, sometimes cultivating a Minister … but decision-makers really … are the civil service structure, because they do all the definition of how you're going to deliver on a particular project."[501] Asked by the reporter whether he had good contacts with them from when he was a Minister, Mr Ingram replied, "Oh yeah".

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct: Paid advocacy. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

629. Mr Ingram says that it is a statement of fact that it is the civil service structure which brings together particular procurement decisions. It is therefore desirable for companies to make themselves known to civil servants and to Ministers. This is normal practice and one adopted by companies involved in a procurement process. Many of those who do this on behalf of companies may indeed be former civil servants or Ministers. He says he did not have contact with civil servants on behalf of clients and did not lobby on their behalf, and that if he had done so he would have declared an interest as appropriate.

iii.  Consortium to bid for MOD work

630. Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter: "there are two other companies that have come to me ... one's in the energy sector ... the other, the other one is ... A lot of departments in defence, one of them will have to be going to outsource ... and the main consortium is now just being put together."[502]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

631. Mr Ingram says that did not claim that he was helping to put together a consortium to bid for work which the MOD outsources to private companies. He says that the transcript merely confirms his knowledge of what was being put together, not that he was at that stage actively part of it or instrumental in it. He had been contacted by a business acquaintance outlining what he was putting together and enquiring as to whether Mr Ingram would be interested in becoming involved after he had left Parliament. He says he has done no work for this project. Mr Ingram says he has received no payment and has had no contact with Ministers or civil servants about the project; it was a short discussion about a possible future appointment after he had left Parliament.

iv.  Defence academy in Libya

632. Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter of employment including a company which had an interest in Libya, saying, "Gaddafi wanted a defence academy built and people I'm with have got very good points of contact in the Libyan regime ..."[503]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute. Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

633. Mr Ingram says he had two registered interests with companies which had been successful, as part of a wider UK consortium, in winning a contract for the design and planning phase of an Engineering/Defence Academy for the Libyan Government. He says he provided advice on the range of activities undertaken in the UK in this area and the payments he received were properly registered. Mr Ingram says that he was never involved in meetings with Ministers or civil servants on behalf of the clients, and that if he had been, these would have been registered, as appropriate. He says he never visited the country nor met with any representatives of the country during his time as a Minister or as a Member of Parliament. Mr Ingram says that the point he was making in the meeting with the undercover reporter was that people in the companies with which he was associated had good points of contact in Libya.

v.  Teachers for the Libyan defence academy

634. Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter that "once the defence academy is built, they did, have been able to get the defence academy here to become engaged with that, so we would populate it with our teaching".[504]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

635. Mr Ingram says the Academy has not been built and it therefore has not been populated by the students or instructors/teachers. There was a future prospect that a company with which he was involved and in which his interest has been registered (ISSEE), is likely to have an interest in obtaining contracts in this area.

vi.  EDS

636. Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter, about his work with EDS: "my arrangement with them is that I would only do work on an MP and then it would probably come to the end of the arrangement."[505] He suggested that he was meeting the "new people" at EDS shortly to talk through whether they wanted him to continue.

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

637. Mr Ingram says that was working with EDS as a consultant, not in his capacity as a Member of Parliament. He says that he had agreed with the company that the best mutual date to review his on-going contract was when he was standing down as a Member of Parliament. He says that he continues to be available to give advice to the company when requested to do so. This involved him providing them with an analysis of the structure of government and the role of Ministers; the interface between Ministers and senior civil servants and his assessment of developments in Government thinking based on his political analysis. He also advised EDS on the role and responsibilities of a Member of Parliament, stressing the importance of keeping good relations between company representatives and local Members Parliament in the areas where the company had a presence. He does not accept that he was required to lodge an agreement for services, since he did not consider he was providing such services in his capacity as a Member of Parliament. He had registered the agreement because, in registration as with other House rules, he had always erred on the side of caution.

638. The Registrar of Members' Financial Interests says that Mr Ingram registered with the House a salary band and deposited an agreement for the provision of services for EDS. She notes that these actions fulfill the requirements of the rules for those undertaking work in the capacity of an MP. She concludes that it was indeed right that Mr Ingram should give a salary band and provide an agreement because he was providing what she would regard as services in the capacity of a Member of Parliament.

vii.  Identifying former civil servants

639. Mr Ingram discussed with the undercover reporter the possibility of identifying former civil servants who might be able to serve on boards of companies. He said, "some of them are very good strategic planners, good thinkers, and well trained in command and control, ah, and just think logically...."[506] Mr Ingram continued, "there's a lot [of] duffers in there but I've got some there [the MOD] in mind..."

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

640. Mr Ingram says that he has had a number of contacts with civil servants since he left office as a Minister, but that he certainly did not do so in order to recommend them for future employment opportunities once they had left the civil service. Mr Ingram says that he did not maintain a checklist of individuals whom he would be prepared to recommend for future employment. He said he was not offering himself as a head-hunter, for payment or otherwise, although he would be prepared to offer his best advice on the qualities of people he knew in Government.

viii.  Relationships with Ministers and civil servants

641. In answer to a question from the undercover reporter, "so you would be able to help us develop our relationship with the ministers and civil servants?", Mr Ingram said, "I could work at that. [507]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

642. Mr Ingram says that despite having no experience of doing what he was being asked to do on a paid basis, he could envisage seeking to speak to ministers or civil servants or to participate in meetings about a client's interests. He says his failure to elaborate further was probably because he was considering the practicalities of such an approach. In any event, it would have been undertaken after he had left Parliament.

ix.  Contact with a possible Conservative Defence Minister

643. The undercover reporter asked Mr Ingram whether the advent of a Conservative administration would change his role on the advisory board at all, or affect him or the things he could deliver. He replied: "there's one person who's likely to become the defence Minister in the Tory administration, says once you (?) become Minister wants to come and talk to me because I'll give him good advice."

644. Mr Ingram said: "I want to see the department well run, I don't care who's running it... good governance... So I don't know if that's of interest to you." [508]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct: Disrepute.

645. Mr Ingram says that the discussion on this point was about providing advice, on request, on his experience as a Defence Minister. Mr Ingram says that in using the words "I don't know if that's of interest to you?" he was not suggesting that such a contact would be used to the benefit of a company which might employ him on its advisory board. He was seeking to show that he had credibility as a Defence Minister which he believed could transcend a change of Government. He believes that this was an attribute which would have been available to the advisory board.

x.  Payments of £1,500-£2,000 a day for consultancy work

646. Mr Ingram responded to the undercover reporter's question about his "day rate": "one of my directorships, it's a thousand pounds for a meeting, and another it's fifteen hundred pounds a day, and you know that's what consultancy (...INAUDIBLE...) charge ... I have two/three (?) companies associated with Libya, and they're each two thousand pounds."[509]

Relevant rules of the House: Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct: Registration and Declaration.

647. Mr Ingram says he registered all companies with which he had been involved. All potential earnings were also properly registered as required. The figure of £1,500 a day is contained in Mr Ingram's contact with EDS.

Findings of Fact: General

648. All of the former Members who are the subject of these complaints were approached in February 2010 by an undercover reporter who claimed to represent Anderson Perry, described as "a United States communications company" which had recently set up an office in the UK. Anderson Perry was a fictitious company. Each of the former Members agreed to a meeting with the undercover reporter following the approach. The undercover reporter told all of the former Members that Anderson Perry was planning to set up an advisory board and she asked them whether they would be interested in joining the board. The reporter also asked all of the former Members whether they would be interested in working as consultants for companies retaining Anderson Perry.

Conclusions

649. The question I am to resolve is whether any of the former Members subject to this inquiry was in breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament and its associated rules, either because of the nature of the statements they made to the undercover reporter when they were Members of Parliament, or because of actions taken when Members of Parliament to which some of those statements appeared to refer. While none is any longer a Member, for the purposes of these conclusions, I shall refer to them as Members since that is what they were at the time.

Application of the rules of the House

650. Each of the Members believed that they were attending a meeting with a prospective employer who was looking to employ them after they had left the House of Commons at the end of the last Parliament. They did not suspect that the person they were meeting was an undercover reporter, apparently with a brief to identify the lobbying activities of senior Members of Parliament. They did not know that their initial telephone conversation and the meeting itself would be secretly recorded. They did not know that some of their statements would be published.

651. The tone and manner of some of what these Members said are on occasions, to quote one Member, "embarrassing". But as another Member has pointed out, this was not intended to be a broadcast interview. It was thought by each of the Members to be a preliminary conversation where they discussed the nature of the jobs being offered and were given the opportunity to set out their stalls. The manner of their speaking needs to be understood in that context. And while what some said appears nevertheless misjudged and sometimes ill-advised, it does not follow that Members were necessarily in breach of the rules of the House on that account.

652. I have, therefore, considered each of the statements I have examined against the specific rules of the House to identify whether any of these statements or any of the actions reported constituted a breach of one of those specific rules. I have identified for each Member the principal statements which appeared to suggest the potential for a breach of the rules. But to keep the inquiry manageable and proportionate, I have not pursued every statement made by the Member in the course of their conversations with the undercover reporter. Nor, for the same reason, have I always sought corroboration of the Member's explanation of their statements, in particular where that explanation appeared to be clear and unambiguous.

653. The principal paragraphs of the Code of Conduct and associated rules which I believe relevant to this inquiry are as follows:

i.  Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct and part 1 of the Guide to the Rules. This relates to the registration of Members' financial interests. If one of the Members identified in the statements they made to the undercover reporter that they were working for a business or organisation, and I subsequently established that they were paid for that work but had not registered their employment in the Register of Members' Financial Interests, then that Member would be in breach of the rules of the House.

ii.  Paragraph 12 and 16 of the Code of Conduct and part 2 of the Guide to the Rules. This relates to the declaration of Members' interests. If one of the Members identified in their statements to the undercover reporter any transactions or communications with other Members, or with Ministers or servants of the Crown, which was relevant to a financial interest which they had or were expecting to have, and I found that they had indeed had such a transaction or communication and that they had a relevant financial interest which they had not declared to the Member, Minister or official, then that Member would be in breach of the rules of the House.

iii.  Paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct and part 3 of the Guide to the Rules. This relates to the prohibition on paid advocacy. If one of the Members identified in their statements to the undercover reporter any actions which amounted to paid advocacy because it sought to confer benefits exclusively on a particular individual or body in which they had a financial interest, and I found that such paid advocacy had taken place, then the Member would be in breach of the rules of the House. The Member would not be in breach if that Member's advocacy was not in support of a remunerated interest (they had not been paid) or was intended to support a sector or interest which would benefit others as well as the individual or organisation in which they had a financial interest. In the latter case, such support would not be a breach of the rules of the House as long as the relevant financial interest was both registered if necessary in the Register of Members' Financial Interests and declared at the time.

iv.  Paragraph 13 of the Code of Conduct. This relates to the Member's use of confidential information. If one of the Members identified in their statements to the undercover reporter that they had received information in confidence in the course of their parliamentary duties and that they had passed it to others for financial gain, then, if they had indeed done so, the Member would be in breach of the rules of the House.

v.  Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct and any relevant rules of the House. This relates to the Members' use of House of Commons facilities. If one of the Members identified in their statements to the undercover reporter any use of House facilities, which was contrary to the rules on their use, then that Member would be in breach of the rules of the House. So, in respect of one Member (Mr Caborn), if that Member had used House banqueting facilities, on behalf of or with the support of an organisation or individual who was employing that Member for payment, and I found that the Member had not made the declaration of their financial interest required by the rules, then the Member would be in breach of the rules of the House. I shall consider in respect of another Member (Mr Byers) whether his offer to use House refreshment facilities to meet the fictitious American employers was a breach of paragraph 14 of the Code because the Member offered the use of House facilities for a non-parliamentary purpose.

vi.  Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct. This relates to the requirement that Members should conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain or strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament, and never to undertake actions which would bring the House of Commons, or its Members generally, into disrepute. Successive Parliamentary Commissioners have interpreted this provision in a way which distinguishes between a Member undertaking actions which may bring him or her into disrepute, and bringing the House and its Members generally into disrepute. I have therefore considered whether any of the statements made by any of the Members to the undercover reporter, whether true or untrue, constituted an action which brought the House, or its Members generally, into disrepute.

General considerations

654. I have examined statements made by each of the Members which I have identified, against the rules relevant to those statements. Each Member spoke differently. I have considered each Member's conduct separately and on its own merits, against the relevant rules. I have come to an overall conclusion on each of their cases, taking account of the overall interview as well as the individual issues identified.

655. There are, however, some points of general application raised during the course of my inquiry to which I now turn. I will in my concluding section make some general observations on some wider lessons which might be drawn from this inquiry. My observations of general application to each of the cases I have considered are:

i.  I have considered only the conduct of the former Members who were the subject of the complaints which I accepted (or in Sir John Butterfill's case, his self-referral). I have not considered the conduct of the reporter, the production company, the broadcaster or the press. If there are any questions as to the conduct of any of those individuals or bodies, that is a matter for others. I am satisfied, however, that each of the Members had the opportunity to take part in the conversation and respond to the reporter's questions as they saw fit. On occasions, the reporter might be thought to have asked leading questions, and, where relevant, I have taken account of that in coming to my conclusions. Otherwise, the words they spoke and the responses they gave were their own. I am satisfied that it is reasonable for each Member to be judged against the rules of the House on the basis of what they said.

ii.  I am grateful to the production company for having provided me with transcripts of the initial telephone conversations and of the meetings with the undercover reporter, certified by a solicitor. Of course, the recording was made surreptitiously and it appears that some of what was said was inaudible. Other words were indistinct. I accept that, as specifically identified in the solicitor's certificate, the recording of Mr Caborn's meeting was particularly poor: its accuracy is therefore limited. I have also identified one point in the transcript for Mr Hoon's meeting where a word clearly audible on the broadcast interview was transcribed as another word.[510] Each Member had the opportunity to challenge the transcript. Where the words were inaudible, or the sense less than clear, where there were gaps in the transcript or changes in the recorded timings, I have taken that into account in coming to my conclusions. Otherwise, I am satisfied that the transcript provides a sufficient basis for asking Members to explain and if necessary interpret what they were recorded as having said.

iii.   Each of these meeting was clearly held on a false premise. There was no American company. There were no clients of that company. There were no directors. There was to be no advisory board. There was no opening for consultants. There was no British person setting up a branch of the company in Europe. The meetings were conducted by an undercover journalist. They were surreptitiously recorded. The Members were duped. In hindsight, the flaws in the cover story given by the undercover reporter are no doubt more transparent than they clearly were to these Members at the time. I have not inquired into the mechanics of the subterfuge, or whether the Members should have spotted it. I have formed my conclusions on the basis of what the Members thought they were discussing: namely the possibility of joining the European advisory board of an American communications company and also the separate possibility of acting as a consultant to the clients of that company. I have judged the impact of the statements which each of the Members made against what they believed to be the case, not against what was in fact the case—that they were giving to an undercover reporter an interview which might subsequently be broadcast and published in the press.

iv.  I have taken each meeting, therefore, at its face value. I consider that it was clearly a preliminary discussion between the person answerable to the American parent company for drawing up a shortlist of candidates who might be considered by that company for appointment to the European advisory board, and the Member who wanted to find out more about the jobs on offer. I do not accept that the meeting was a confidential discussion only between the interviewer and the Member (as suggested by Mr Byers in his interview[511]). Each Member knew that they were discussing the possibility of employment after they had left the House. They should have expected that what they said would be relayed back to the fictitious employers. In many cases the undercover reporter made that clear during the meeting. Nor was it, in my judgement, just an informal chat (as suggested to me by Ms Hewitt). It was not, of course, a fully structured job interview, but it was clearly a discussion with a purpose. And the purpose, to which each Member responded in their own way, was to discover whether the Member wished to be considered for one or both of the jobs on offer and to give the Member the opportunity to demonstrate their suitability (or otherwise) for appointment. None of the Members turned down the job opportunity during the course of the meeting (although Mr Byers did so later). Each Member accepted that they would be considered for shortlisting and for moving on to the next stage of the appointments process. This is a process which I believe is followed for many appointments. No Member had any reason or justification for thinking that what they said to the person they were meeting would go no further. They must have known—or should have known—that what they said was going to go back to the American employers. But they had no reason to know that what they said would be published.

v.  One Member (Mr Hoon) suggested that the Code of Conduct and its associated rules could not apply to this meeting, since he was discussing the prospect of employment when he was no longer a Member of the House. I accept only one aspect of this argument. I accept Mr Hoon's argument that the Code cannot apply to actions which the Member may have suggested they would carry out once they were no longer a Member of Parliament. But where the Member referred to activities undertaken when he or she was a Member of Parliament, then clearly, in my judgement, the Code must apply to those activities. And I consider that it must also apply to each Member's conduct during the interview. If the Member were to have conducted him or herself during the interview in a way which was contrary to the Code of Conduct and its associated rules—for example, by making statements which had the effect of bringing the House of Commons or its Members generally into disrepute—then I consider that the Member must be held subject to the Code and its rules.

vi.  One Member (Mr Hoon) suggested that the Code of Conduct could not apply, since he was discussing a personal appointment which formed no part of his parliamentary duties. I accept that the job was not linked to any Member's parliamentary duties. In that sense, they were not acting for their constituents, nor were they holding the Government to account, nor were they undertaking any of the other recognised duties of a Member of Parliament. They were acting for themselves. But the Code goes wider than just providing guidance on the conduct of a Member's parliamentary duties. It provides guidance "on the standards of conduct expected of Members in discharging their parliamentary and public duties"[512]: the Code covers public as well as parliamentary duties. The scope of the Code is set out as applying to Members "in all aspects of their public life." It adds that it does not seek to regulate "what Members do in their purely private and personal lives."[513] I consider that the discussion about a possible appointment to the advisory board of a company is an aspect of the public life of those who were, at the time of the discussions, Members of Parliament. It would strain the definition beyond any reasonable interpretation to suggest that interview was part of a Member's "purely private and personal life". It was not. It is, after all, the basis on which the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments operates: they consider public appointments and, had any Member been subject to ACOBA at the time, they would have needed to clear this appointment with that Committee. Appointments to the board of commercial companies are, therefore, in my judgement, parts of a person's public life. The meeting was about their public life, both in respect of their past experience and their future aspirations. I conclude, therefore, that because the Member was self-evidently a Member of Parliament when they had this discussion, and the discussion was relevant to their public life, they were subject to the Code of Conduct and its associated rules in what they said. I understand the distinction which Mr Hoon sought to make to the interviewer between "Hoon work" and his work as a Member of Parliament. But in my judgement the Code applies to all aspects of a Member's public life, not just the conduct of their parliamentary duties. I conclude that Mr Hoon, and the other Members, were therefore subject to the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament when he and the other Members met the undercover reporter.

656. I turn now to my conclusions on the statements made by each of the former Members during their meetings with the undercover reporter. I have considered each Member's meeting separately. I have come to a judgement on whether the statements identified during the course of my inquiry, and summarised in the factual sections of this report, and taking account of the full transcript of each meeting, constituted a breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament and its associated rules.

Sir John Butterfill

i. Introductions to Ministers. Sir John offered to make introductions to Ministers for the supposed clients of the company.

657. I accept Sir John's evidence that he did not make such arrangements when he was a Member of Parliament. It is open to a former Member to make such arrangements on behalf of a paying client. I conclude that Sir John was not in breach of the rules in what he said.

ii. Advice on Government contracts. Sir John told the undercover reporter that he had in the past acted as a consultant giving advice on Government contracts.

658. I accept Sir John's evidence that this work was unremunerated. The rules do not prevent a Member of Parliament from giving advice on such matters, as long as any remunerated work is registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. My conclusion is that Sir John was not in breach of the rules of the House in what he said.

iii. Possible Membership of the House of Lords. Sir John noted that if he were to go to the House of Lords it would give him "another string to my bow as far as you are concerned." And he noted that a member of the House of Lords might be involved in matters of interest to Anderson Perry.

659. Sir John was clearly unwise to raise his possible elevation to the House of Lords with a prospective employer. The implication of his statement that he could use that position to help Anderson Perry's interests was even more unwise. It reflected poorly on him. But I do not consider that, taken overall, the imprudence and unacceptability of his statement reached the level at which it could be held that he had brought the House of Commons and its Members generally into disrepute. My conclusion, therefore, is that this statement did not breach the rules of the House.

iv. Meetings with a future Conservative Government. Sir John told the undercover reporter that it would be easy enough to arrange a meeting for their clients with Ministers in a future Conservative Government "provided there's something genuine that is likely to interest them and that depends on how I present things."

660. This reference was clearly to actions which Sir John suggested he could take in future, if there were to be a Conservative Government in the new Parliament. By then, he would no longer be a Member of Parliament. I conclude that his statement, which I believe was couched in terms which reinforced the case for his employment by Anderson Perry, was not in itself a breach of the rules of the House.

v. Serving MPs acting as consultants. Sir John said that it was "now quite difficult for a serving MP" to act as a consultant, but once retired, they could do as much of it as they liked.

661. I accept Sir John's evidence that he believed it was harder for a serving MP to act as a consultant because of the public reaction. I conclude that there was no breach of the rules in what he said.

vi. Kvaerner Pension Fund. Sir John described how he had "blackmailed" the Kvaerner group to make payments he considered justified to the Kvaerner Pension Fund.

662. I accept Sir John's judgement that the use of the word "blackmailed" was colourful language. I accept, too, Sir John's evidence of the leading role he played. That role was, in my judgement, an entirely appropriate action for a Member of Parliament, in particular given that he, like many other Members, had constituents affected by this issue. I conclude, therefore, that he did not breach the rules of the House in the statements he made.

vii. Private Members' Bills. Sir John said that "all my private Members' Bills are pro bono".

663. I accept Sir John's evidence that he did not intend to imply by his statement that other Members' Bills were not pro bono, although, taken out of the overall context of the meeting, it was, in my view, a phrase which could have carried that implication. But, in the context of the interview, I conclude that the statement did not have the effect of bringing the House and its Members generally into disrepute. In my judgement, therefore, the statement did not breach the rules of the House.

viii. Entertaining Ministers and civil servants. Sir John confirmed that he could arrange for clients to meet Ministers, although civil servants were quite difficult, since they did not like being taken out to lunch.

664. I accept Sir John's evidence that as a Member of Parliament he had not arranged meetings for paying clients. I believe that the context of the discussion at that stage was about what Sir John could do for the company, which, in the context, would have been after he had left the House. It is open to any former Member of Parliament to seek to arrange meetings with Ministers or civil servants. I conclude, therefore, that Sir John was not in breach of the rules of the House in the statements he made.

ix. Informal consultancy while still a Member. Sir John said that he would be available for an informal consultancy before the Election, although he would need to look at each one to ensure that there was no conflict of interest.

665. While I accept Sir John's evidence that he neither agreed nor disagreed to this proposition, I think it is clear from the context that he agreed to consider such an informal consultancy. But he gave no undertakings, and, as he has pointed out, the idea was unlikely to be practical given the imminence of the General Election. In my judgement, Sir John was not in breach of the rules of the House in agreeing to consider this possibility.

x. Paid-for board/consultancy work. Sir John told the undercover reporter that he thought that the going rate for sitting on a board might be something like £30,000 or £35,000.

666. I accept Sir John's evidence that he was responding to a question about what the going rate was, and that he has never been paid this rate for consultancies or other services. I accept, therefore, that there was no failure by him in the registration of his interests in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I conclude, therefore, that Sir John was not in breach of the rules of the House in respect of the registration of Members' interests in making this statement.

Overall conclusion: Sir John Butterfill

667. Overall, therefore, I do not consider that any of the statements made by Sir John Butterfill during the course of his meeting with the undercover reporter, or any of the actions he took as a Member referred to in his statements, were in breach of the rules of the House. I do not, therefore, uphold the allegations against him.

Rt Hon Stephen Byers

i. Confidential information. Mr Byers said that he got a lot of confidential information because he was linked into Number 10 and knew very well someone in the office of Rt Hon David Cameron MP.

668. I accept Mr Byers' statement to me that he was not in receipt of confidential information from Number 10 and that he did not know very well someone in Mr Cameron's office. His statements to the undercover reporter were therefore false. I consider at the end of this section whether making those statements was in breach of the rules of the House.

ii. Accessing civil servants. Mr Byers suggested that a General Election period was a good time to meet civil servants about the need to get any regulation changed or law amended.

669. I accept Mr Byers' statement that he had not sought to gain access to civil servants on behalf of clients in this way. It would not, in my judgement, be in breach of the rules of the House for a Member of Parliament to give such advice to a client. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Byers was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

iii. Securing removal of a regulation. Mr Byers suggested that he could facilitate paying clients in removing a regulation or other restriction standing in the way of a business commercial opportunity.

670. I accept Mr Byers' statement that he had not performed such a service for clients. It would not be a breach of the rules of the House for a Member of Parliament to give advice to a commercial company about how best to lobby to remove a regulation. It would be a breach if the facilitation involved the Member personally in paid advocacy to bring an exclusive benefit to a client. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Byers was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

iv. Ways around the Enterprise Act. Mr Byers implied that, as the architect of the Enterprise Act, he knew ways around it if the Office of Fair Trading suggested a company was operating a restrictive practice or price fixing.

671. I accept Mr Byers' statement that he is not in fact aware of ways around the Enterprise Act. I will consider at the end of this section whether making this false statement was in breach of the rules of the House.

v. Food labelling regulations. Mr Byers referred to discussions with a senior representative of Tesco who wanted a proposed food labelling regulation stopped, and a subsequent discussion with Lord Mandelson to get him to take the matter up with Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and get the regulation amended.

672. I accept Mr Byers' statements that he had no discussion or contact with Tesco representatives about food labelling regulations, nor with Lord Mandelson, nor with Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP. I will consider at the end of this section whether Mr Byers was in breach of the rules of the House in making these false statements.

vi. National Express. Mr Byers said that he worked for National Express. They had approached him in June 2009. He had had a meeting with Lord Adonis, the then Transport Secretary, to choreograph the Secretary of State's decision about the East Coast rail franchise and to avoid National Express paying a penalty.

673. I accept Mr Byers' statement that he was not paid by National Express. I accept, therefore, that there was nothing for him to register in the Register of Members Financial Interests. It is a matter of record, however, that Mr Byers did have a meeting with Lord Adonis in June 2009. And I have found that Mr Byers had had a prior meeting with the then Chief Executive of National Express and that a separate telephone briefing from a representative of National Express took place, probably after Mr Byers' meeting with Lord Adonis. I accept that Mr Byers had a constituency interest, though I believe that he must also have been aware of the National Express concerns in at least very general terms when he met Lord Adonis, on account of his earlier discussion with the Chief Executive of National Express. But I accept the clear statement made by Lord Adonis in the House of Lords on 22 March 2010 that his meeting with Mr Byers did not follow the lines as described by Mr Byers to the undercover reporter. I accept, too, Mr Byers' confirmation of Lord Adonis's statement. I will consider at the end of this section whether the false statements made by Mr Byers to the undercover reporter were in breach of the rules of the House.

vii. Rio Tinto. Mr Byers stated that he worked for Rio Tinto in Kazakhstan.

674. I accept Mr Byers' statement that he had not worked for Rio Tinto. I accept, therefore, that there was nothing for him to register in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I will consider at the end of this section whether the false statement he made was a breach of the rules of the House.

viii. Ofwat. Mr Byers suggested that, having spoken to Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, he had talked to Ofwat and relevant civil servants to influence Ofwat's five year investment programme to the benefit of his clients.

675. I accept Mr Byers' statement that he had no discussions or contact at all on water matters with Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, or with his officials, or with Ofwat. I accept his statement that he made no approach to any of those concerned. I will consider at the end of this section whether this false statement constituted a breach of the rules of the House.

ix. Mediating in a dispute. Mr Byers described mediating in a dispute on an oil pipeline between BP and contractors.

676. I accept Mr Byers' evidence that he assisted the contractor concerned (Consolidated Contractors International) in negotiating a settlement on this matter. I accept, too, that he was not paid an additional fee for this work above payments which he included in the Register of Members' Financial Interests for his employment by Consolidated Contractors International. I conclude that Mr Byers was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

x. Influencing manifesto implementation. Mr Byers said he would go through a manifesto with a water company, identifying any problems, and "we" would go to talk to a civil servant to convince them of the difficulties with the proposal.

677. This statement needs to be considered against the fact that Mr Byers was paid as the non-executive Chairman of a water treatment company—an interest which he registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I accept Mr Byers' statement that what he said was not accurate in respect of any General Election. The implication of his statement, had it been true, could have amounted to paid advocacy exclusively on behalf of the water treatment company which he chaired. If so, that would have been a breach of the rules of the House. Had the interest benefited other water companies, then it could have been within the rules as long as Mr Byers had declared his financial interest to the civil servant. I will consider at the end of this section whether the false statement Mr Byers made was itself a breach of the rules.

xi. Use of House facilities. Mr Byers offered to meet the American employers in a bar in the Palace of Westminster.

678. I accept Mr Byers' statement that he was not aware that entertaining people in a House of Commons bar for private business purposes was a breach of the rules of the House. The May 2010 Handbook for Members makes it clear that House refreshment facilities should not be used for "private business activity". But that related to the current Parliament. The previous edition of the Handbook simply said that Members might bring guests to the facilities. I consider, however, that it is a longstanding expectation that Members should use House facilities only in the course of their parliamentary business. But in my judgement, this needs to be operated with a sense of proportion. It may be a kind gesture to invite friends or family to a House of Commons bar or restaurant. It may also be most convenient for a Member to make use of parliamentary facilities in meeting others not strictly for the purpose of parliamentary business. This is because it keeps the Member near at hand so that they can continue to conduct parliamentary business if necessary. But the use of House facilities simply as a way of boosting a Member's employment prospects would, in my judgement, be a misuse of those facilities. I think that it is clear that Mr Byers's suggestion was indeed intended to boost his employment prospects (he said, "the Americans love it by the way"). Had Mr Byers used House facilities for this purpose, I consider that that would have been a breach of the rules of the House, although, given the uncertainty in the rules before May 2010, I would not consider it a serious breach. But his offer was never taken up. I conclude, therefore, that it would be unfair to conclude in all the circumstances that Mr Byers was in breach of the rules of the House for having made this suggestion.

xii. Cab for hire. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter that he was like "a sort of cab for hire I suppose at the moment."

679. I agree with Mr Byers that he should not have used this phrase. I accept his explanation that "in a clumsy way" he was referring to his wish to have a number of different jobs once he had left the House, to add to the three he already had. While this statement was clearly ill-judged, I do not consider that he was offering himself to work for anyone prepared to pay for him while still a Member of Parliament. I consider that it was a reference to how he would approach future job opportunities once he had left the House. I conclude, therefore, that his statement was not in breach of the rules of the House.

xiii. Exaggerated or untrue statements. I have identified in the previous paragraphs those statements which were made by Mr Byers to the undercover reporter and which, on the basis of Mr Byers' own evidence, I have accepted to be untrue. I had no reason to doubt that Mr Byers was accurate in his evidence to me. The question I need to resolve is whether these untruths were such that they brought the House of Commons and its Members generally into disrepute and failed to meet the guiding Nolan principle of honesty.

680. I consider that some of the statements which Mr Byers made did breach paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct by bringing the House of Commons and its Members generally into disrepute. The statements which I consider breached this rule were his statement about knowing ways around the Enterprise Act; his statements about amending food labelling regulations on behalf of Tesco; his statements about his discussions with Lord Adonis and others on behalf of National Express; his statements about influencing Ofwat's investment programme; and, to a lesser extent, his statement that he worked for Rio Tinto and that he contacted civil servants to argue against the impact of manifesto commitments on water companies. His statements about his links with Number 10 are not in my judgement sufficiently developed to reach the paragraph 15 threshold.

681. Mr Byers had no inkling that the person he was speaking to was an undercover reporter. He believed that he was talking to somebody who would be reporting her conversation with him to her American employers with a view to employing him. It was reasonable for that person to expect that a Member of Parliament would speak the truth. The experiences he recounted, which I have identified above, could only suggest to that interviewer—and to her American employers—that this was the way that Members of the United Kingdom Parliament normally behaved or were allowed to behave. The actions which Mr Byers said he had taken were both unethical and, in some cases, possible examples of paid advocacy on behalf of a particular client. They also reflected badly—and unfairly—on the other politicians he identified and on the companies he referred to. The impression given to the interviewer by Mr Byers of his conduct in these cases was such, in my judgement, as to bring the House of Commons and its Members generally into disrepute.

682. In responding to this inquiry, it is to Mr Byers' credit that he has offered his sincere and unreserved apologies to the House for making the statements which he did. It is also in my view some mitigation that Mr Byers recognised within 24 hours of his meeting with the undercover reporter that he could not let his statements stand. But it took three e-mails, and some weeks, before Mr Byers recognised the proper response to such conduct was to withdraw his name from the list. This was not about him overstating the part he had played in trying to secure changes in the way Government deals with issues (as covered in his initial e-mail of 24 February). The retraction in his first e-mail that he had not been engaged in lobbying Ministers in the UK, and in his second naming the three Ministers he said he had not in fact spoken to, was not in my judgement a wholly clear or comprehensive retraction of the false statements he had made. Had Anderson Perry been who he thought they were, they would have continued to have had, at best, a confused picture not just of Mr Byers' conduct, but of the way in which Members of Parliament were able, in Mr Byers' words, "to secure changes in the way in which Government deals with issues." Mr Byers' untrue statements about his actions as a Member of Parliament were, in my view, a particularly serious breach of the Code of Conduct because they reflected on Members of Parliament generally and cast aspersions on the behaviour of Government Ministers and commercial companies.

xiv. Charges for his services. Mr Byers told the undercover reporter, who asked about his fees, that the scale was usually between £3,000 to £5,000 a day, although sometimes he could charge more.

683. I accept Mr Byers's statement that the sum of £3,000 to £5,000 a day was the level of fee he had charged in making speeches to commercial organisations; and that he had charged a lower fee for consultancy and advisory services. I accept, too, his statement that his fees had been properly registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Byers was not in breach of the rules of the House in respect of the registration of Members' interests in making this statement.

Overall conclusion: Rt Hon Stephen Byers

684. My overall conclusion, therefore, is that Mr Byers was in breach of the rules of the House in making false statements during the course of his meeting with the undercover reporter in relation to how he managed to change Government policies for the benefit of paying clients, because these statements at the time brought the House of Commons and its Members generally into disrepute, contrary to paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct. This was a particularly serious breach of the rules. His subsequent retractions went some, but not the full, way to undoing the damage he had caused to the reputation of Parliament. To this extent, therefore, I uphold the complaint against him.

Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt

i. Five ways to meet a Minister. Ms Hewitt told the undercover reporter that people had to be "quite careful" about putting business clients in touch with a Minister, but then listed five ways in which it could be done.

685. I accept Ms Hewitt's statement that she had never used any of these methods on behalf of a paying client, although she may have been subject to some of them as a Minister. Her statements gave unintentional publicity to lobbying techniques which I accept she believed were used to connect business clients with Ministers. None are of themselves contrary to the rules of the House on lobbying. A Member of Parliament can give such advice to a paying client. If a Member of Parliament were to be engaged in any of these activities, they would need to declare their interest to the Minister and any civil servants. They would need to be careful not to engage in paid advocacy. But Ms Hewitt did not imply otherwise—rather the reverse. I conclude, therefore, that Ms Hewitt was not in breach of the rules of the House in this statement. I shall draw some wider lessons from her statements at the end of these conclusions.

ii. Removing a regulation. In response to a question about the Conservatives winning the then forthcoming General Election, Ms Hewitt explained that "we can often" package a client's wish to remove a particular regulation which was attractive to the new Government.

686. I accept Ms Hewitt's evidence that she was referring to action which could be taken with a new Conservative Government in the new Parliament. By then she would no longer have been a Member of Parliament. There is no reason to believe that she acted in this way when she was a Member of Parliament. No question of registration, declaration or adherence to the lobbying and advocacy rules therefore arises. I conclude that Ms Hewitt was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

iii. Changes to directives or legislation. In talking of future legislation, Ms Hewitt told the undercover reporter that it was "easy" to try to change or influence legislation—"but you have to put a lot of effort into it".

687. I accept Ms Hewitt's statement that this was a discussion about future actions and, as such, she would no longer be a Member of Parliament and would not therefore be subject to its rules. I conclude, therefore, that Ms Hewitt was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

iv. Contacts with civil servants. In answer to a question about whether it was easy to have meetings with civil servants to speak on behalf a client, Ms Hewitt said that she had regular lunches and coffees with civil servants and "we're all mates really".

688. I accept Ms Hewitt's statement that, while she had regular informal lunches or coffee with some civil servants about once a month, she only raised a matter in which she had a registered interest on one occasion, and she declared that interest and put her case on behalf of the whole sector and not exclusively for her client. There is not sufficient evidence to suggest that Ms Hewitt implied to the reporter that she had regularly raised matters relating exclusively to her paying clients when she was a Member of Parliament. But it seems to me reasonable to conclude that in making this statement she was suggesting that she had the contacts base which she could draw on for the benefit of her new client once she was no longer a Member of Parliament. I conclude, however, that Ms Hewitt was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

v. to vii. PiC and the Bradley report. Ms Hewitt suggested (v) that she had been instrumental in putting Partnerships in Care, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cinven to whom she acted as a paid consultant, in front of the Bradley inquiry into mental health in prisons; (vi) that she had got PiC into the mental health system, by implication so that they could bid for contracts; and (vii) that she had secured their involvement in the Department's advisory group on the Bradley report.

689. Having taken account of the evidence I have received from Lord Bradley, and the evidence Ms Hewitt provided from the Department of Health, I consider that Ms Hewitt exaggerated her influence in engaging Partnerships in Care and the private health sector in the work of Lord Bradley's inquiry and its follow up. But she had no reason to know that she was so exaggerating her involvement at the time when she spoke to the undercover reporter. And the evidence is that, when speaking to Lord Bradley, the senior Departmental official responsible for the programme board, and at a Ministerial meeting, she properly declared her interest. She also avoided breaching the prohibition on paid advocacy by connecting her lobbying to a wider involvement of the private health sector generally and not just PiC. It has to be said, however, that PiC, as a major player in that field, could expect to be a major beneficiary of Ms Hewitt's efforts to engage the private sector more in mental health provision. I shall address the implications of this in my concluding section. I do not consider, however, that Ms Hewitt breached the rules of the House in making the statements she did.

viii. Carbon reduction. Ms Hewitt said that she had spoken both to officials and Ministers about a carbon reduction regulation which, in her view, disproportionately affected private equity firms, for one of whom, Cinven, she acted as a paid consultant.

690. I accept Ms Hewitt's evidence, supported by the then Minister Rt Hon Joan Ruddock MP, that Ms Hewitt properly declared her interest in speaking to Ms Ruddock briefly about these regulations. I accept also that she spoke on behalf of the whole sector, and so did not engage in paid advocacy for the exclusive benefit of Cinven. I accept, too, that her reference to speaking to officials (which she did not do) was a minor slip. I conclude, therefore, that Ms Hewitt was not in breach of the rules of the House in what she said. I shall reflect on the operation of the paid advocacy rule in my concluding remarks.

ix. Payments from clients. Ms Hewitt told the undercover reporter that her day rate for Cinven was a bit over £3,000.

691. I accept Ms Hewitt's statement that the payments she received had been at the level she told the undercover reporter and were properly registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I conclude, therefore, that Ms Hewitt was not in breach of the rules of the House in respect of the registration of Members' interests in making this statement.

Overall conclusion: Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt

692. My overall conclusion, therefore, is that Ms Hewitt was not in breach of the Code of Conduct and its associated rules in the statements she made to the undercover reporter. Accordingly, I do not uphold the complaint against her. In my view, however, some of her statements raise wider issues, which I shall address in the concluding section.

Rt Hon Geoff Hoon

i. Use of knowledge and contacts. Mr Hoon told the undercover reporter that he was looking forward to translating his knowledge and contacts about the international scene into "something that, bluntly, makes money."

693. I accept Mr Hoon's statement that he had developed a good understanding over the past 25 years of how international organisations operate. I accept that what he said to the undercover reporter related in terms only to his international work. His statement that he wanted to use this international experience to make money was a prime example of what he described to me as an embarrassing phrase. But it was an informal meeting and he had less reason, therefore, to pick his words. The policy, articulated by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, is that it is in the public interest that former Ministers with experience in Government should be able to move into business or other areas of public life. The clear implication of that statement is that, in doing so, they would receive remuneration. It is no breach of the rules for a former Minister to put his or her knowledge and even his or her contacts at the service of a paid business interest, provided he or she meets any requirements of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. Nor is there any such prohibition on former Members of Parliament, many of whom must also be expected to seek alternative means of employment once they leave the House. I shall reflect on the possible implications of this for former Members of Parliament in the concluding section. But I conclude that while the tone and choice of words may have been ill-judged, Mr Hoon was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

ii. Offering to chair a company. Mr Hoon said that he was in negotiation with "quite a big company" and that they were going to pay him an amount of money that "I find frankly embarrassing".

694. I accept Mr Hoon's evidence that he believed that he was about to be made such an offer at the time of his meeting, although in the event nothing came of it. Again, while the tone may now seem embarrassing, I conclude that there was no breach of the rules of the House in Mr Hoon's statement.

iii. Leading a delegation to a Minister. Mr Hoon said that he did not mind leading a delegation in to see a Minister. He made clear that he wanted to give strategic advice and not act as some sort of lobbyist.

695. I accept Mr Hoon's evidence that he recognised that there could be times when, once he was no longer a Member of Parliament, he might be asked to lead a delegation in to see a Minister on behalf of a company. That was action he envisaged taking once he was no longer a Member of Parliament. No question of a breach of the rules can therefore arise. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Hoon was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

iv. Access to Defence Ministers. Mr Hoon said that if a former Minister asked to see the Defence Minister, he did not think that there would be "any difficulty".

696. I accept Mr Hoon's evidence that he was "showing off" in making this statement and trying to impress. Mr Hoon was right to point out to me that this would only be possible if there was a good reason for such a meeting. I conclude that Mr Hoon was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

v. Strategic Defence and Security Review. The reporter told Mr Hoon that one of the company's clients had mentioned this defence review at the MoD. Having referred to the Green paper not saying very much, and the need for the review to identify challenges arising from defence cuts, Mr Hoon referred to the work he was doing on NATO having to fit with that. He offered to talk to Anderson Perry's clients about how the NATO policy fitted together with the national defence policy, which he identified in terms as the strategic defence review. The reporter followed up by asking Mr Hoon about giving clients of the company a "steer ... on where ... defence policy is going". The reporter then implied that they would like this so that they would know "what they should be bidding for". Mr Hoon said that, while it would take some time, he knew "some of the people on the team in the MoD who are working on this, because they briefed me about this." He continued that some of the people he was seeing "are doing both, they're both advising me as to what the Government position is, but also working separately on the ... defence review." [514]

697. Mr Hoon has sought to explain his statement by suggesting that he was referring only and at all times to the UK Government officials briefing him on what the UK Government wanted to see from the NATO review of defence policy. He said that the only insights he had about the Defence Review were ones based on his own experience and judgement. His evidence is that he was not holding out the prospect of briefing the company about the UK's defence policy and the strategic defence and security review based on his discussions with officials involved in that review.

698. I do not accept Mr Hoon's interpretation of what he said. I find wholly unconvincing Mr Hoon's explanation that, in his statement that he knew "some of the people in the team in the MoD who are working on this, because they briefed me about this", the first "this" did indeed refer to the defence review, but the second referred only to the NATO briefing. In the context of the discussion, what he said could only have been understood as an offer to brief Anderson Perry's clients on the strategic defence and security review, drawing on briefings he received from MoD officials. I have no reason to doubt Mr Hoon's statement that he would never do such a thing. But in my judgement, that was not the impression he gave during the meeting. I consider that a Member of Parliament, who had had close links with the MoD, suggesting that he would act in this way brought the House of Commons, if not its Members generally, into disrepute. Mr Hoon had no reason to believe that the person he was speaking to was an undercover reporter. He should have recognised that that person would be reporting back his conversation to her American employers so that they could consider whether to employ him on the advisory board. To have offered to act in this way, or even to have given the impression that he might act in this way, however misleadingly, was in my judgement a serious breach of the rules of the House because it brought the House of Commons into disrepute.

699. Mr Hoon has also argued that there could be no question of him needing to consider whether to declare a financial interest to the officials who briefed him, since his meeting was not, in effect, a "communication" which he was having with servants of the Crown. I find this argument unconvincing. The fact that the officials were communicating to him (and not he to them) does not, in my judgement, make it any less of a communication. And paragraph 86 of the 2009 Guide to the Rules refers specifically to the requirement to declare a relevant interest during meetings with Ministers and public officials.[515] Mr Hoon's briefings were self-evidently meetings with public officials. And I do not accept that he was absolved from this responsibility by defining his NATO work as not being a parliamentary duty. The purpose of the provision is transparency. Had Mr Hoon had a financial interest in the information he was receiving, it would have been right for him to have told that to the officials, since that might have affected the briefing they were providing. But there is no evidence that at that stage Mr Hoon had such a financial interest, or that he had a sufficiently strong expectation of having such an interest, to require its declaration. Whatever impression he sought to give the interviewer, it had not in my judgement passed beyond "vague hopes and aspirations", in the words of paragraph 73 of the 2009 Guide to the Rules. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Hoon was not in breach of the rules in not declaring a financial interest to officials briefing him in relation to the NATO review, since he had, at that stage, no such interest to declare.

vi. NATO defence policy. Mr Hoon appeared to hold out the prospect of briefing a private equity fund about the relationship between the NATO and National Defence Policy which he said was "the strategic defence review, one down" and which he said he was developing, and "how it actually all fits together". [516]

700. I recognise that Mr Hoon was engaged in supporting NATO in the development of its defence policy. I have no reason to doubt his statement that that was a public process. And I accept that his reference to the policy he was developing was to the NATO defence review and not the UK strategic defence review. But Mr Hoon's offer appears to go beyond a briefing about some public process. I consider that the clear implication of what he was saying was that he would give the private equity firm a briefing about the NATO policy which he claimed to be devising and developing, and its relationship to the UK's strategic defence review. I consider that the clear impression he gave went beyond offering an informed outsider's analysis, to suggesting that he could draw on his access to information about the NATO defence review and the UK's Strategic Defence and Security Review for the benefit of the private equity fund. The impression he would have given to the interviewer was that he was offering an inside track on defence strategy to the fund (a track which would also be available to Anderson Perry's clients). While I consider this less clear-cut than his offer to draw on his contacts with MoD officials to brief Anderson Perry's clients on the strategic defence review, I conclude that holding out the prospect of this briefing for private equity fund was a breach of the rules of the House because it brought the House generally into disrepute.

vii. Private equity briefing. Mr Hoon said that he might go and talk to a private equity firm about, among other things, defence policy more generally.

701. I note Mr Hoon's statement that this was clearly aspirational, and that he had no current plans to do this. In any event, I do not consider that telling the undercover reporter that he was prepared to brief a private equity firm about defence policy more generally had the effect of bringing the House of Common or its Members generally into disrepute. There can, in my judgement, be no objection to a former Member of the House, experienced in defence matters, speaking to private equity firms or any others about general defence policy as long as he or she does not imply that such a briefing would draw on confidential information. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Hoon was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

viii. Defence policy document. Mr Hoon offered to present to the company's defence clients a document which he said he had just got "from Washington".[517] He had earlier in the interview identified this as an academic document.

702. I accept Mr Hoon's evidence that this document was an academic document produced for the NATO review which was intended for publication and has now been published. It is reasonable to conclude that the interviewer should have recognised this as the document referred to earlier in their discussion. There could be no breach of confidence in Mr Hoon presenting such a document to others. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Hoon was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

ix. Bank business. Mr Hoon told the undercover reporter that a US investment bank wanted to "build a business around me".

703. I accept Mr Hoon's evidence that this was an exaggeration and that, had anything come of this proposal (which it had not), he would have acted no differently from any other chairman of a company. But I do not consider that this exaggeration amounted to a breach of the rules of the House. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Hoon was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

x. Daily consultancy rate. Mr Hoon told the undercover reporter that he had been offered £3,000 a day for a day's work, which he was thought was about right for his daily rate.

704. I accept Mr Hoon's evidence that this was reference to an offer he had received from a television company for work after the election. No question of registration therefore arises. I conclude that Mr Hoon was not in breach of the rules of the House in respect of the registration of Members interests in making this statement.

Overall conclusion: Rt Hon Geoff Hoon

705. I consider that Mr Hoon was in breach of the rules of the House in making statements to the undercover reporter about disclosing confidential information he implied he was receiving or could access from the MoD about the UK's Strategic Defence and Security Review for the benefit of business clients who might be considering seeking contracts with the MoD and for the benefit of a private equity fund. I accept Mr Hoon's statement that, even if he were party to such information (which he said he was not), he would not have divulged it. But by holding out the prospect of doing so, I consider that he breached the rules of the House by bringing the House of Commons and its Members generally into disrepute, contrary to paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct, and that was a particularly serious breach. In this respect, I uphold the complaint against him.

Rt Hon Richard Caborn

i. Accessing Ministers. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter that there were a number of ways in which it was possible to access Ministers, whether it was a sector or an individual company.

706. I accept Mr Caborn's statement that he has never accessed or influenced Ministers through lobbying on behalf of a paying client and that his comments were a statement of how the system worked. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Caborn was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

ii. House of Lords. Mr Caborn said that there was a possibility that he would be in the House of Lords and that this would provide access to people, including Ministers, and to "all the information that is going around. If you can get information, that is very powerful."

707. I accept Mr Caborn's statement that, if he were to be elevated to the House of Lords, he would act in accordance with its rules. I consider, nevertheless, that this statement was ill-judged, not only because of his suggestion that he might be elevated to the House of Lords, but because of the clear implication that that would provide him with access to people, including Ministers, and access to information which would be of benefit to his paying employers. While I consider that these statements reflect poorly on Mr Caborn, I conclude that they were not of such a degree as to bring the House of Commons and its Members generally into disrepute. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Caborn was not in breach of the rules of the House in making these statements.

iii. Fitness Industry Association: Ministerial access. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter in referring to the Fitness Industry Association (for which he was a paid consultant) that "we get access to Ministers", particularly Health Ministers.

708. I accept Mr Caborn's evidence that he has never arranged access to Health Ministers or to any other Minister for the FIA. I accept also that Ministers see the FIA without such intervention. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Caborn was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

iv. AMEC. Referring to his work in South Africa on behalf of AMEC, for whom he was a paid consultant, Mr Caborn said, "if they want a reception in the House of Commons and if they want to get advice from Government, then I get advice from Government and I introduce them to people."

709. I accept Mr Caborn's evidence that, in referring to him getting advice from Government for AMEC and in making introductions, he was referring to the South African Government. I conclude that he was not, therefore, in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement. I consider later Mr Caborn's activities in arranging events in the House of Commons paid for by AMEC.

v. Relationships with civil servants. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter, in answer to questions about setting up meetings with civil servants, that he had lots of meetings with civil servants when he was a Minister and was about to arrange a party with his former private office.

710. Mr Caborn's answer self-evidently did not answer the question, since, as he says, he was referring to a time when he was a Minister. I accept Mr Caborn's statement that he had not set up any meetings with civil servants on behalf of any of those who paid for his services when he was a Member of Parliament. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Caborn was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

vi. Health and wellness services: Sheffield. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter about the proposal he had discussed with the Chairman of the Sheffield Health Authority about restructuring health and wellness services in Sheffield and that the Chairman was "a friend of mine whom I have known for many years." He also told her that he had been advising the FIA, who were looking to use their assets more effectively. He said that they wanted to get referrals to the services from doctors.

711. I accept Mr Caborn's statement that he arranged no meetings or contacts on this matter with Ministers or officials. I accept, too, that, while he did not declare his financial interest in the FIA when having his discussion with the Chairman of the Sheffield Health Authority, he had raised the matter with the FIA at one of their regular meetings (as well as with other organisations) and that he would have declared such an interest in future if the idea had gone beyond "its infancy". I recognise that the strict terms of the Guide to the Rules appear only to require the declaration of an interest to Ministers or Crown servants, including executive agencies. The Chairman of a health authority does not come into either of those categories. Nevertheless, the Guide to the Rules is not a legal document and Members are expected to abide by both the spirit as well as the letter of the rules. And I note that paragraph 86 of the 2009 edition of the Guide (repeated from the 2005 edition) says that the requirement to declare a relevant interest extends to meetings with "public officials".[518]

712. Mr Caborn has stated that he would have made any necessary declarations about his association with the FIA had the idea gone further. I consider that he would have been right to have made such a declaration to the Chairman of the health authority at his initial meeting. This is because the Chairman was holding an important and influential public appointment within the public sector; because the FIA had a self-evident potential financial interest in the restructuring of health and wellness services in Sheffield, moving them "to prevention rather than cure", as Mr Caborn said in his meeting with the undercover reporter; and because, as Mr Caborn told the reporter, the idea would require legislation, thus linking it to Parliament.[519] The proposal stood to benefit FIA members financially by allowing them to make their facilities available to the NHS. Mr Caborn should, therefore, in my judgement, have declared his financial interest at the outset and not left it until later. I therefore find that Mr Caborn was in breach of the rules of the House in not declaring his financial interest in the FIA when he had his discussion, albeit of a preliminary nature, about the possible restructuring of health and wellness services in Sheffield with the Chairman of the Sheffield Health Authority.

vii. AMEC contract. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter that, at the request of AMEC, he had advised a consortium on bidding for a major contract in respect of fuel reprocessing at Sellafield.

713. I accept Mr Caborn's evidence that he did advise AMEC and other partners in the consortium in respect of this contract, but that he did not speak to or consult Ministers, Government officials or any of the directors or staff of the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency which was awarding this contract. There was, therefore, no requirement on him to declare his interest to any of these bodies. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Caborn was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

viii. AMEC structural revamp. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter that he had revamped the whole structure of AMEC.

714. I accept Mr Caborn's evidence that he had assisted the Board of Nuclear Management Partners in restructuring their socio-economic policies. While, therefore, Mr Caborn's statement may have been something of an exaggeration (he did not restructure the whole of AMEC), I do not consider that it was so much of an exaggeration as to bring the House of Commons generally into disrepute. My conclusion, therefore, is Mr Caborn was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

ix to xii. Receptions and dinners in the House of Commons. My inquiries into the receptions and dinners which Mr Caborn was associated with arose from a reference he made to the undercover reporter about organising receptions and dinners in the House of Commons. My conclusions on each of the events I have considered are as follows:

ix. FIA reception: 5 July 2007. I accept that Mr Caborn was not a consultant to the FIA when he held his reception on behalf of the FIA and had no reasonable expectation of such employment. He was not, therefore, in breach of the rules of the House in making this booking without declaring an interest in the FIA.

x. AMEC dinner: 23 June 2008. I accept that Mr Caborn properly declared his interest in AMEC on the booking form for this dinner. I accept, too, that no formal invitations were issued, so it was not possible to identify Mr Caborn's financial interest in AMEC on those invitations. But I find that he was in breach of the rules of the House in not declaring that financial interest to those who attended the dinner, as he could well have done in his winding-up remarks at the dinner.

xi. FIA dinner: 3 December 2008. Mr Caborn was in breach of the rules of the House in not declaring his interest in the FIA on the booking form submitted for this dinner, which he had sponsored. I accept that there would appear to have been a muddle between Mr Caborn's office and the office of the FIA, which may account for this error. Nevertheless, Mr Caborn signed a form which stated that he did not have a declarable interest, when he clearly had one. He was also in breach of the rules of the House in not ensuring that the invitations for the dinner sent out by the FIA clearly identified and declared his financial interest in the FIA as the sponsor for the event. On both counts, I find that he was in breach of the rules of the House.

xii. AMEC dinner: 11 May 2009. I find that Mr Caborn did properly identify his interest in AMEC in the booking form for this dinner. I accept that there were again no written invitations, so it was not possible for Mr Caborn to declare his registrable interest on any invitation. But he should have identified his registrable interest to those attending the dinner, as he could well have done in his winding-up remarks. In not doing so, he was in breach of the rules of the House.

xiii. AMEC meeting with Prime Ministers. Mr Caborn said that, if the Managing Director of AMEC wished to see the Prime Minister, he was able to do so. When he was asked if he had helped AMEC to arrange the meeting, Mr Caborn answered, "Yes I do it and the Minister of Energy."

715. I accept Mr Caborn's statement that chairmen of major companies do have access to Ministers, including the Prime Minister, without, in effect, the need for his intervention. I accept also his statement that he has never arranged meetings for the Managing Director of AMEC or other industrialists with the Prime Minister or any other Ministers. It is difficult, therefore, to interpret his statement to the undercover reporter that he did arrange such a meeting, including for "the Minister of Energy." I note that Mr Caborn might here have been referring to South African Ministers. I consider that there is sufficient doubt on this point for me not to suggest that Mr Caborn was providing an inaccurate answer. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Caborn was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

xiv. Payments. Mr Caborn told the undercover reporter that his current clients paid him £2,500 a day.

716. I accept Mr Caborn's evidence that this was a reference to the day rate paid by AMEC, although the FIA paid less. I accept also that Mr Caborn properly registered his payments in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Caborn was not in breach of the rules of the House in respect of the registration of Members' interests in making this statement.

Overall conclusion: Rt Hon Richard Caborn

717. I find that Mr Caborn was in breach of the rules of the House in not declaring his financial interest in the FIA when he had a preliminary discussion with the Chairman of the Sheffield Health Authority about restructuring health services in Sheffield in a way which could have benefited members of the FIA; and that he was in breach of the rules of the House in one failure to declare his registrable interest on a booking form for a House of Commons dinner, and otherwise failing to declare his relevant interest, either on the invitation or in his remarks to those attending three of these events. I have no evidence that any of these breaches was caused by deliberate intention: it was more likely that they were the result of careless oversight. They were therefore less serious on that account. In this comparatively limited respect, I uphold the complaint against him.

Rt Hon Adam Ingram

i. Network of former Ministers. Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter that ex-Ministers would become "a point of contact in the political network" and that "all of that ... can be established ..."

718. I accept Mr Ingram's statement that he was not suggesting in these remarks that a formal network of ex-Ministers be set up to help make contact with people working in Departments. There is not sufficient evidence, from his statement, to draw that conclusion rather than his own conclusion that former Ministerial colleagues would naturally maintain their contacts. In any event, Mr Ingram was referring to activities once he—and former Ministerial colleagues—had left the House of Commons. No question of a breach of the rules of the House therefore arises. I conclude that Mr Ingram was not in breach of the rules of the House, therefore, in making this statement.

ii. Contacting civil servants. Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter that he had good contacts with civil servants and that it was civil servants who dealt with contract issues.

719. I accept Mr Ingram's statement that he did not have contact with civil servants on behalf of clients, or lobby on their behalf when he was a Member of Parliament. Inasmuch as he was referring to using contacts with civil servants once he was no longer a Member of Parliament, such contacts would not be a breach of the rules of the House. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Ingram was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

iii. Consortium to bid for MoD work. Mr Ingram said that he knew of a consortium being put together to bid for outsourced defence contracts, but he was "not going to touch it" until he was no longer a Member of Parliament.

720. I accept Mr Ingram's statement that, while he had been contacted by a business acquaintance in respect of this project, he had done no work for it, had received no payment, and had no contact with Ministers or civil servants about it. This was consistent with what Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter, which is that he would have no involvement with this project until after he had left the House of Commons. No question of a breach of the rules of the House therefore arises. I conclude that Mr Ingram was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

iv. Defence academy in Libya and (v.) teachers for the academy. Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter of his paid work for companies seeking to build a defence academy in Libya, and subsequently seeking to supply its teachers.

721. I agree with Mr Ingram that there was nothing improper about his work on this project. He properly registered his interests in the Register of Members' Financial Interests, for the design and construction companies and for the company which hoped to provide the academy with teachers. I conclude that Mr Ingram was not in breach of the rules of the House in making these statements.

v. EDS. Mr Ingram referred to his work with EDS, and that it would probably come to the end once he was no longer a Member of Parliament.

722. Mr Ingram properly registered his interest in EDS in the Register of Members' Financial Interests, and also registered his pay band and an agreement for services, as Members are required to do when providing services in their capacity as a Member of Parliament. Mr Ingram has argued that he was not providing such services, and only lodged the agreement and pay band because, in such matters, he always "erred on the side of caution".

723. I agree with the evidence to me from the Registrar of Members' Financial Interests that, on the basis of Mr Ingram's description of his role, he was right to have registered his interest as providing services in his capacity as a Member of Parliament because I consider that, among other things, that was what he was doing. There is, therefore, no question but that Mr Ingram was fully within the rules of the House in the way he registered his work for EDS. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Ingram was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

vi. Identifying former civil servants. When asked about the possibility of identifying former civil servants who might be able to serve on the boards of companies, Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter that he had "some there (the MOD) in mind".

724. Mr Ingram has sought to argue that he did not maintain contacts with civil servants so he could recommend them for future employment. He was not offering himself as a headhunter. I consider, however, that Mr Ingram gave the clear impression that he had some civil servants "in mind" whom he would be prepared to recommend to the company for an advisory board appointment. I do not regard this as a breach of the rules of the House. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Ingram was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

vii. Relationships with Ministers and civil servants. Mr Ingram said that he could "work at" helping the company to develop their relationship with Ministers and civil servants.

725. Mr Ingram has sought to argue that he had said that he "could work at that" because he had no experience of being paid to develop relationships with Ministers and civil servants. I find that an unconvincing interpretation of what he said, but there can be no breach of the rules in a former Member of Parliament seeking to develop a relationship with Ministers and civil servants on behalf of a paying employer. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Ingram was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

viii. Contact with a possible Conservative Defence Minister. In answer to a question about whether a Conservative Administration would change Mr Ingram's role on the imaginary advisory board, he referred to a parliamentary colleague whom he believed was likely to become a Defence Minister in the new Conservative administration (he was not so appointed) and that he would give that person good advice: he added, "I don't know if that's of interest to you."

726. I accept Mr Ingram's explanation that he would seek to give advice to an incoming Defence Minister of whatever political persuasion in the interest of good governance. But I consider that the suggestion that this contact might be of interest to the company seems to me to suggest that Mr Ingram was seeking to persuade the company that he would be able to continue to act in its interests with Ministers in a Conservative administration. That would clearly be work undertaken once Mr Ingram was no longer a Member of Parliament. He could not, therefore, be in breach of the rules of the House in making such a contact. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Ingram was not in breach of the rules of the House in making this statement.

ix. Day payments for consultancy work. Mr Ingram told the undercover reporter that his day rate varied between £1,500 and £2,000.

727. I accept Mr Ingram's evidence that the statement he made to the reporter about his payment levels was accurate. I accept, too, Mr Ingram's evidence that he properly registered the payments he received in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. I conclude, therefore, that Mr Ingram was not in breach of the rules of the House in respect of the registration of Members' interests in making this statement.

Overall conclusion: Rt Hon Adam Ingram

728. I conclude that Mr Ingram was not in breach of the rules of the House in any of the statements he made during the course of his meeting with the undercover reporter. I do not therefore uphold the complaint against him.

Concluding observations

729. The interviews which these six Members unwittingly gave to an undercover reporter, and my inquiry into the statements they made, raise in my judgement some questions about the adequacy of the rules on lobbying by Members of Parliament, and former Members of Parliament. I am in no position to make any recommendations on these matters, since that would require extensive consultation and further consideration which would not be appropriate for this inquiry.

730. I therefore make the following observations in case the House were to decide, in the light of this inquiry or any other considerations, that a wider review of the content and operation of the rules on lobbying should be undertaken.

731. My observations relate to the operation of the paid advocacy rule and to lobbying by former Members of Parliament.

Paid advocacy rule

732. A resolution of the House of November 1995 prohibits paid advocacy. The operation of this provision has developed since then, initially tightening the provision and, since the House's consideration in 2001/2 of a report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, introducing some liberalisation in the way Members may act. The current position is that Members may now speak freely on matters which relate to the interests and affairs of a body or individual from whom they receive a financial benefit, provided that any resulting benefit is not exclusive to that body or individual but shared more widely, and that the financial interest is properly registered and declared. So Members can speak from experience on issues affecting a particular business or other sector, even if those who stand to benefit include but do not wholly comprise individuals or bodies who have paid for their services. The position is broadly the same if a Member has a problem involving a company within his or her constituency. [520]

733. This inquiry has, however, raised some questions about whether this rule is still operating in the public interest. It has suggested that it is possible and within the rules for a Member to make arguments on public policy which either are initiated by those who employ them, or which would clearly benefit such people. So, as long as the Member argues that there should be a change in a regulation to benefit a particular business sector, and they declare their financial interest, they can do so despite the fact that they work for and are paid by a dominant business in that sector. I consider that the effect of the rule operating in this way is to risk giving the impression, at least, that the Member can advocate a policy or lobby a Minister or officials for a personal benefit rather than a public purpose. It would, in my judgement, be desirable to find a way of avoiding such an outcome while still enabling a Member of Parliament fully to represent their constituents and to speak freely on public policy issues. One answer may be that if a Member has such a paid position, they should resign from it if they wish to make public policy points in the business sector in which that company or organisation undertakes significant operations, or if they have a constituency interest in that company's or organisation's objectives, subject to any necessary saving if the Member is asked by their constituent to take up their particular case.

Activities of former Members of Parliament

734. This inquiry has shown that, once a Member of Parliament has left the House, there is nothing to prevent them using contacts which they have developed as Members of Parliament in lobbying Ministers or civil servants, including paid advocacy in the exclusive support of those who are paying them.

735. There are restraints on former Ministers in taking up outside appointments, which are managed by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. There are no such restraints on former Members of Parliament. While there should be no suggestion that former Members of Parliament should not seek paid employment, it might be right to consider some restrictions on the activities they can undertake in the first few years once they have left Parliament.

736. I consider that it would be unrealistic, and not in the public interest, for former Members of Parliament to be restricted from taking up paid positions which draw on their knowledge and experience gained when a Member of Parliament. I consider also that it would be unrealistic and not in the public interest to prevent former Members of Parliament giving advice to their employers about the conduct of Government and parliamentary business, including how best to influence a policy being considered by the Government or by Parliament. Lobbying is a necessary and longstanding part of the democratic process. But I have some concern about former Members of Parliament making direct contact with former parliamentary colleagues or Government Ministers and with civil service contacts on behalf of an employer which is paying them.

737. As this inquiry has shown, it is human nature that former colleagues would expect to have access to those whom they knew when Members of Parliament. It would be wrong if people thought—as under the current arrangements they might—that former colleagues were given preference over others. It might be worth considering, therefore, whether Members of Parliament, Government Ministers and public officials should be prevented under their respective rules from receiving representations or delegations requested or led by a former Member of Parliament for a set number of years when that Member is being paid by those who would benefit from that contact. There would be nothing, of course, to prevent a former Member of Parliament seeking to make such contacts with Ministers and former colleagues and civil servants when they wish to do so on their own account or when they are not receiving payments from an organisation likely to benefit from those contacts. The mischief which needs to be considered is whether former Members of Parliament should be able to be "hired hands", using the contacts they have made in the course of their parliamentary duties to benefit directly an employer.

22 November 2010  John Lyon CB




1   An extract is at WE 1 Back

2   Some of these interviews had been covertly filmed. Back

3   WE 2 Back

4   WE 3 Back

5   WE 4 Back

6   WE 5 Back

7   WE 6 Back

8   WE 7 Back

9   WE 24, WE 57.  Back

10   WE 8 Back

11   WE 11 This letter is summarised beginning at paragraph 43. Back

12   WE 10 Back

13   WE 9 Back

14   The Code of Conduct together with the Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of Members 2005, HC (2004-05) 351. The version of the Code in this edition is identical to that in the 2009 edition. Back

15   In the 2009 edition this phrase was replaced with: "ie those current within the previous twelve months". Back

16   In the 2009 edition this paragraph was amplified as follows: "Members are also required to declare relevant indirect interests, for instance those of a spouse or partner, and also non-registrable interests of a financial nature where these are affected by the proceedings in question (as, for instance the possession of a second home when the council tax treatment of these is under discussion). Members may also think it appropriate to declare non-financial interests of the kinds itemised in paragraph 64 where these are relevant to proceedings." Back

17   The terms of this Resolution are reproduced in the 2005 Guide to the Rules at paragraph 71. Back

18   Sixth Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Con. 4557-I, paragraph 3.96 Back

19   Not included in the written evidence Back

20   Not included in the written evidence Back

21   See paragraph 445 below.  Back

22   WE 11 Back

23   WE 8 Back

24   WE 1 Back

25   WE 12 Back

26   WE 13 Back

27   Not included in the written evidence Back

28   The British Insurance & Investment Brokers Association (BIIBA) (1992-97), the IFA Association (1992-97) and the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA) (1994-2001). Back

29   WE 14 Back

30   The version in Sir John's letter was "gives me another string to my bow so far as I am concerned". See WE 12 and paragraphs 44 and 49.  Back

31   WE 15 Back

32   WE16,17,18 Back

33   WE 12 "b) The work that I had done in the past was entirely unremunerated and related to representations made to me by constituency companies, many of whom were involved in Government in diverse ways, notably in the fields of insurance, financial services and manufacturing, for example, Cobham (formerly Flight Refuelling), who employ a very large number of my constituents and who came seeking my support and that of other neighbouring M.Ps." Back

34   WE 15 "Paragraph 2(b): My past unpaid work under this heading was related only to companies based in my constituency or employing large numbers of my constituents. Examples are Liverpool Victoria, Portman Building Society, Lloyds TSB, Abbey Life etc., all of whom would contact me from time to time on a wide variety of issues to raise with the Government. These might have related to taxation, regulatory matters etc." Back

35   WE 18, 00:28:55 Back

36   WE 18, 00:30:20 Back

37   WE 18, 00.48.22 Back

38   WE 18, 00:58:44 Back

39   WE 18, 01:02:38 Back

40   WE 19 Back

41   See WE 18, 00:38:19 Back

42   WE 18, 00:25:37 Back

43   WE 18 00:58:.44 Back

44   WE 20 Back

45   WE 12 Back

46   WE 18, 00:58:44 Back

47   WE 21 Back

48   WE 18, 00:38:19 Back

49   WE 18, 00:35:34. Sir John said, "Well I can tell you that once I had some people who wanted me to help them put lots and lots of money into the UK and when I dug deeply, the source of the money was not very, strictly kosher... So I just turned that down... I'd need to be pretty reassured." Back

50   WE 18, 00:50:04 Back

51   Not included in the written evidence Back

52   Not included in the written evidence.  Back

53   WE 18, 00:30:20 Back

54   WE 22 Back

55   Not included in the written evidence Back

56   WE 19 Back

57   WE 18, 00:50:04 Back

58   WE 23 Back

59   WE 19 Back

60   WE 18, 00:19:11 Back

61   WE 18, 00:50:04 Back

62   WE 18, 00:38:19 Back

63   WE 18, 00:25:37 Back

64   WE 18, 00:46:45 Back

65   WE 18, 00:43:39 Back

66   WE 18, 00:43:39 Back

67   WE 18, 00:25:37 Back

68   WE 18, 00:28:55 Back

69   WE 18, 00:30:20 Back

70   WE 18, 00:38:19 Back

71   WE 18, 00:38:19 Back

72   WE 18, 00:48:22 Back

73   WE 18, 00:48:22 Back

74   WE 18, 00:50:04 Back

75   WE 18, 00:50:04 Back

76   WE 24 Back

77   WE 7 Back

78   WE 2 and WE 4 Back

79   WE 25, 26, 27 Back

80   WE 27, 00:03:16 Back

81   WE 27, 00:03:33 - 00:03:37 Back

82   WE 27, 00:03:40 Back

83   WE 27, 00:03:50 Back

84   WE 27, 00:03:58 Back

85   WE 27, 00:04:05 Back

86   WE 27, 00:04:18 Back

87   WE 27, 00:04:53 Back

88   WE 28 Back

89   WE 29 Back

90   WE 24 Back

91   WE 25 Back

92   WE 30 Back

93   WE 32 Back

94   WE 33 Back

95   Mr Byers' legal representatives made similar points in correspondence with the production company after the meeting but before the programme was broadcast. Not included in written evidence Back

96   WE 30, 31, 32, 33 Back

97   WE 34 Back

98   WE 30 Back

99   WE 32 Back

100   WE 33 Back

101   WE 24 Back

102   WE 25 Back

103   WE 25 Back

104   WE 25 Back

105   WE 27, 00.04.53 Back

106   WE 35 Back

107   WE 36 Back

108   WE 27, 00:03:25 Back

109   WE 27, 00:02:27 Back

110   Registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. Back

111   WE 30, 32, 33 Back

112   Vice President of Wallsend Boys Club; President of CORE (a group of community organisations in the north east promoting renewable energy); President of GLOBE International (a group of parliamentarians from G20 countries dealing with climate change and the environment); Chair of the Policy Council of Labour Friends of Israel and a member of the Editorial Board of Inside Ukraine, a publication of the International Centre for Policy Studies, Kiev. Back

113   WE 34 Back

114   WE 37 Back

115   WE 38 Back

116   WE 39 Back

117   WE 38 Back

118   WE 40 Back

119   WE 41 Back

120   WE 42 Back

121   WE 1 Back

122   WE 36 Back

123   WE 43 Back

124   WE 38 Back

125   WE 44 Back

126   WE 43 Back

127   WE 27, 00:03:25-35 Back

128   WE 41 Back

129   WE 45 Back

130   WE 30, 32, 33. The letters from Mr Byers's legal representatives are not included in the written evidence. Back

131   WE 46 Back

132   WE 1 Back

133   WE 41 Back

134   WE 1 Back

135   WE 47 to 51 Back

136   WE 47 Back

137   WE 27, 00:04:53 Back

138   WE 48 Back

139   WE 49 Back

140   These principles are quoted at paragraph 38 above.  Back

141   WE 50 Back

142   WE 27, 00:04:53 Back

143   WE 52 Back

144   WE 46 Back

145   WE 51 Back

146   Quoted at paragraph 37 above. Back

147   WE 53 Back

148   WE 54 Back

149   WE 55 Back

150   WE 35 Back

151   WE 41 Back

152   WE 40 Back

153   WE 56 Back

154   WE 27, 00:04:05 Back

155   WE 27, 00:04:05 Back

156   WE 27, 00:03:40 Back

157   WE 27, 00:03:53 Back

158   WE 27, 00:03:53 Back

159   WE 27, 00:04:23 Back

160   WE 27, 00:02:20 Back

161   WE 27, 00:02:20 Back

162   WE 27, 00:03:25 Back

163   WE 27, 00:03:28 Back

164   WE 27, 00:02:27 Back

165   WE 27, 00:03:35 Back

166   WE 27, 00:03:50 Back

167   WE 27, 00:04:18 Back

168   WE 27, 00:04:45 Back

169   WE 27, 00:04:45 Back

170   WE 27, 00:03:58 Back

171   WE 57 Back

172   WE 5 Back

173   PiC was a subsidiary of Cinven.  Back

174   WE 60, 00:46:24 Back

175   WE 60, 00:47:44 Back

176   Not included in the written evidence Back

177   WE 58, WE 59, WE 60 Back

178   WE 60, 00:47:44 Back

179   WE 60, 00:52:30 Back

180   WE 60, 00:17:15 Back

181   WE 57 Back

182   WE 58  Back

183   WE 61 Back

184   From the Guidelines issued by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. See paragraph 40 above. Back

185   WE 59 Back

186   WE 57 Back

187   WE 60, 00:55:04 Back

188   When asked by the undercover reporter (WE 60, 00:54:50) about arranging for her clients to see Ministers, Ms Hewitt made a number of suggestions. She said:"when I was Business Secretary, I would cheerfully accept hospitality invitations, for instance." Later she said that if Rt Hon David Cameron were to be elected "he might well decide, because of all this sleaze and expenses stuff to frown on hospitality". Ms Hewitt also said of ways for clients to see Ministers: "the think tank and the seminar route I think is a very good one and an amenable one." On the same issue she also said that: "sponsorship of events at party conference... is a classic one" and "if it's at cabinet level, you really need to talk to the special advisers". Ms Hewitt also said that:"the other one that can be useful, but may be less appropriate for your clients is the constituency route."  Back

189   See paragraph 22 above. Back

190   See paragraph 26 above. Back

191   WE 60, 00:45:25 Back

192   WE 65 Back

193   WE 62 Back

194   See paragraph 36 above.  Back

195   WE 60, 00:46:24 Back

196   WE 60, 00:46:51 Back

197   Not included in the written evidence. Back

198   WE 58 Back

199   WE 65 Back

200   WE 62 Back

201   WE 58  Back

202   WE 60, 00:50:48 Back

203   WE 58 Back

204   WE 62 Back

205   WE 61 Back

206   WE 62 Back

207   WE 63 Back

208   A Department of Health note of the 21 May meeting is at WE 65. Back

209   WE 61 Back

210   WE 63 Back

211   WE 60, 00:44:44 Back

212   The note of the meeting had said that Ms Hewitt would "submit a note outlining the points she has raised for the National Programme Board to consider." Back

213   WE 63 Back

214   WE 60, 00:46:09 Back

215   WE 61 Back

216   WE 60, 00:44:44 Back

217   WE 63 Back

218   WE 75 Back

219   WE 77 Back

220   WE 67 Back

221   WE 68 Back

222   WE 66 Back

223   WE 59 Back

224   WE 59 Back

225   Not included in the written evidence. Back

226   WE 61 Back

227   WE 62 Back

228   WE 70 Back

229   WE 72 Back

230   WE 73 Back

231   WE 70 Back

232   WE 76 Back

233   WE 71 Back

234   WE 59 Back

235   In commenting on a draft of this memorandum, Ms Hewitt told me that it was not the case that she regarded the position offered by the undercover reporter as a major board position. As she believed the context made clear, in the discussion she was referring to a non-executive directorship with a publicly quoted company (WE 60, 00:06:11). Back

236   WE 76 Back

237   WE 78 Back

238   WE 80 Back

239   WE 81 Back

240   WE 60, 00:55:04 Back

241   WE 60, 00:50:48 Back

242   WE 60, 00:52:53 Back

243   WE 60, 00:18:21 Back

244   WE 60, 00:18:49 Back

245   WE 60, 00:17:15 Back

246   WE 60, 00:45:12 Back

247   WE 60, 00:46:24 Back

248   WE 60, 00:46:09 Back

249   WE 60, 00:46:24 Back

250   WE 60, 00:45:25 Back

251   WE 60, 00:48:28 Back

252   WE 82 Back

253   WE 90, 00:30:15 Back

254   WE 90, 00:12:28 Back

255   WE 90, 00:02:10 Back

256   WE 90, 00:04:00 Back

257   WE 90, 00:23:36 Back

258   WE 90, 00:23:17 Back

259   WE 90, 00:23:08 Back

260   WE 90, 00:14:20 Back

261   WE 84 Back

262   WE 85 Back

263   WE 90, 00:23:08 Back

264   Not included in the written evidence Back

265   WE 86 Back

266   WE 87 Back

267   Not included in the written evidence. Back

268   WE 88 Back

269   WE 90, 00:29:19 Back

270   WE 90, 00:23:08 Back

271   WE 84 Back

272   WE 90, 00:23:54 Back

273   WE 82 Back

274   WE 84 Back

275   WE 90, 00:28:22  Back

276   WE 83 Back

277   WE 91 Back

278   WE 84 Back

279   WE 90, 00:22:22. Mr Hoon referred to the paper in the transcript as follows: "I carry around with me a paper that we are working on now, and indeed I've just written a paper for the National Defense University of Washington, on how we see the development of those capabilities." Back

280   WE 92 Back

281   WE 88 Back

282   See paragraph 35 above. Back

283   Mr Hoon said:" I'm then hoping to go on the board of a FTSE 100 company as a non exec." WE 90, 00:18:14.  Back

284   WE 92 Back

285   WE 93 Back

286   See paragraph 35 above. Back

287   WE 90, 00:18:14 Back

288   Ibid. Back

289   WE 94 Back

290   WE 90, 00:23:36 Back

291   WE 90, 00:19:42 Back

292   WE 95 Back

293   Paragraph 73 of the 2009 edition of the Guide to the Rules provides: "The rule relating to declaration of interest is broader in scope than the rules relating to the registration of interests in three important respects. As well as current interests, Members are required to declare both relevant past interests and relevant interests which they may be expecting to have. In practice only interests held in the recent past, i.e. those current within the previous twelve months, need normally be considered for declaration. Expected future interests, on the other hand, may be more significant. Where, for example, a Member is debating legislation or making representations to a Minister on a matter from which he has a reasonable expectation of personal financial advantage, candour is essential." Back

294   See paragraph 32 above. Back

295   WE 93 Back

296   WE 94 Back

297   Article Two of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament provides: "2. The Code applies to Members in all aspects of their public life. It does not seek to regulate what Members do in their purely private and personal lives". Back

298   WE 90, 00:22:52 Back

299   WE 90, 00:23:17 Back

300   WE 90, 00:23:36 Back

301   Not included in the written evidence. Back

302   WE 90, 00:23:54 Back

303   WE 90, 00:24:10 Back

304   WE 96 Back

305   See paragraph 35 above.  Back

306   See paragraph 32 above.  Back

307   See paragraph 30 above.  Back

308   WE 84 Back

309   See paragraph 391 below. Back

310   WE 97 Back

311   Mr Hoon's letter said that "In relation to these meetings with civil servants I have previously made clear ... that these meetings were an opportunity for the British Government to influence my thinking. I was not trying to influence theirs. As a result paragraph 74 of the Guide applies." This was a typing error: Mr Hoon had intended his letter to read, "As a result paragraph 74 of the Guide does not apply." Back

312   WE 98 Back

313   See paragraph 18 above. Back

314   See paragraph 388 above. Back

315   WE 99 Back

316   "Yeah, no I mean it will take some time, but, but the team, and I know some people on the team in the MOD who are working on this, because they brief me about this." Back

317   WE 100 Back

318   WE 101 Back

319   WE 84 Back

320   WE 87 Back

321   WE 91 Back

322   WE 90, 00:28:32 Back

323   WE 82 Back

324   WE 102 Back

325   WE 90, 00:14:20 Back

326   WE 103 Back

327   See paragraph 384 above.  Back

328   WE 90, 00:30:15 Back

329   WE 90, 00:12:28 Back

330   WE 90, 00:02:44 Back

331   WE 90, 00:04:00 Back

332   WE 90, 00:21:22 Back

333   WE 90, 00:23:54 Back

334   WE 90, 00:23:17 Back

335   WE 90, 00:23:08 Back

336   WE 90, 00:28:32 Back

337   WE 90, 00:29:19 Back

338   WE 90, 00:28:22 Back

339   WE 90, 00:22:22 Back

340   WE 90, 00:19:42 Back

341   WE 102 Back

342   WE 10 Back

343   WE 104 Back

344   WE 112, 00:46:45 Back

345   WE 112, 01:21:15 Back

346   WE 112, 00:46:21 Back

347   WE 112, 00:51:30 Back

348   WE 112, 00:55:51 Back

349   WE 105 Back

350   The Register of Members' Financial Interests. Back

351   President of ABAE England; President of the YHA; President of the UK School Games; Trustee of the Football Foundation; the Prime Minister's World Cup Ambassador.  Back

352   See WE 106  Back

353   See First Report of the Public Administration Committee, Session 2008-09, HC 36-II, Ev.79-92. WE 122 Back

354   Ibid. Ev.85 Back

355   WE 105 Back

356   WE 107 Back

357   WE 106 Back

358   WE 119 Back

359   WE 108 Back

360   The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments  Back

361   WE 115 Back

362   WE 116 Back

363   WE 109 Back

364   WE 107 Back

365   WE 110, WE 111, WE 112 Back

366   WE 111 Back

367   WE 112, 00:41:41-00:45:55. Mr Caborn had said "You're (?) looking at a fairly big scheme changing. You're looking at very, very much in its infancy. The Chairman of the Health Authority, who is a friend of mine who I have known for many years... So what we're looking at is zoning the whole of Sheffield and asking the government there to give us much more freedom on how to expand. And whilst we try to work the Health service into all sorts of different structures ... we ought to look at whether we can actually move the whole cultural agenda to prevention rather than cure... But we need to have, a amendment on the legislation to give us, and we don't want any more money... So that yes, I have been advising the FIA ...They are looking at using their private sector, they are looking to use their assets more effectively, because they are the peer groups of a new organisation(?). See if we can buy that then we could get referrals to the services from doctors, into that, then you can link that together ... well it's improving their bottom line that's what they're in business for, if they can do that then, with a social aspect to it as well, then it's a win-win situation." See also 01:14:52-01:20:35. Back

368   WE 112, 01:05:51. This related to work at Sellafield.  Back

369   WE 112, 01:05:51. Mr Caborn had said, "I set up the whole regeneration of the company, because they had a commitment to socio-economic development and I did not like the structure so I revamped the whole structure..."  Back

370   WE 112, 01:09:23 Back

371   WE 112, 01:36:45 Back

372   WE 113 Back

373   WE 109 Back

374   Mr Caborn had told the undercover reporter in the telephone conversation: "What I'm waiting for is the election on ... the 6th of May because that will then release me but there's a number of things ... which will possibly happen then which ... I ... really have to find out before I commit myself any further, er there's a possibility I might go to the House of Lords, for example, or things like that. So I have got to wait for that to settle down so at the moment ... I really don't want to take anything on that I would have to then either say I couldn't do or ...you know, would look at other opportunities. " Back

375   WE 109 Back

376   WE 114 Back

377   WE 115 Back

378   The consultancy with AMEC and another with the FIA Back

379   WE 116, WE 117 Back

380   WE 118 Back

381   WE 109 Back

382   WE 119 Back

383   WE 110 Back

384   Mr Stone is now Chairman of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Back

385   Letters not included in written evidence. Back

386   WE 112, 01:36:45 Back

387   WE 112, 01:38:54 Back

388   WE 120 Back

389   WE 104 Back

390   WE 107 Back

391   WE 121 Back

392   The transcript at 01.34.33 reads "(INAUDIBLE) ... I'm open to bringing investment into the country, you know, that's what you really want." Back

393   WE 113 Back

394   WE 112, 00:51:30 Back

395   WE 106 Back

396   WE 10 Back

397   WE 122 Back

398   WE 121 Back

399   WE 123 Back

400   WE 124 Back

401   WE 122, WE 123 Back

402   Not included in the written evidence.  Back

403   WE 125 Back

404   See paragraph 35 above. Back

405   WE 124 Back

406   WE 126 Back

407   WE 128 Back

408   WE 129 Back

409   Not included in the written evidence.  Back

410   See paragraph 39 above. Back

411   See paragraph 39 above. Back

412   Not included in the written evidence. Back

413   WE 130 Back

414   WE 131 Back

415   WE 132 Back

416   WE 133 Back

417   WE 124 Back

418   WE 134 Back

419   WE 124 Back

420   WE 133 Back

421   WE 126 Back

422   WE 135 Back

423   WE 136 Back

424   WE 137 Back

425   WE 106 Back

426   WE 119 Back

427   WE 112, 00:46:45 Back

428   WE 112, 01:09:23 Back

429   WE 112, 00:46:21 Back

430   WE 112, 00:51:30 Back

431   WE 112, 00:55:51 Back

432   WE 112, 00:41:41-00:45:55 Back

433   WE 112, 00:50:55 Back

434   WE 112, 01:05:51 Back

435   WE 112, 01:36:45 Back

436   Mr Caborn says that he thanked AMEC for sponsoring the dinner, which was small, and that most if not all of those attending knew of his consultancy for AMEC but he cannot recall specifically spelling that out. Back

437   WE 112, 01:38:54 Back

438   WE 112, 01:39:22 Back

439   WE 112, 01:04:45 Back

440   WE 10 Back

441   WE 138 Back

442   WE 141, 00:23:20 Back

443   WE 141, 00:24:38 Back

444   WE 141, 00:25:05 Back

445   WE 141, 00:11:24 Back

446   WE 141, 00:00:23 Back

447   WE 141, 00:03:23 Back

448   WE 141, 00:06:06 Back

449   WE 139 Back

450   WE 141, 00:08:56 Back

451   WE 141, 00:18:08 Back

452   WE 141, 00:29:10 Back

453   WE 141, 00:04:58 Back

454   WE 142 Back

455   WE 10 Back

456   WE 143 Back

457   Mr Ingram said, "I could work at that yeah." WE 141, 00:29:10 Back

458   WE 138 Back

459   WE 141, 00:24:38 Back

460   WE 141, 00:11:24 Back

461   Argus Libya UK LLP; Electronic Data Systems (EDS); Argus Scotland Ltd; Ingram Advisory Ltd; Signpoint Secure Ltd; International School for Security and Explosives Education (ISSEE). Back

462   WE 141, 00:29:10 Back

463   See paragraph 557 below and WE 143. Back

464   WE 143 Back

465   WE 144 Back

466   WE 141, 00:23:20 Back

467   Not included in the written evidence. Back

468   WE 141, 00:20:04 Back

469   WE 141, 00:04:58 Back

470   WE 141, 00:05:25 Back

471   WE 141, 00:05:42 Back

472   WE 145 Back

473   WE 138 Back

474   WE 143 Back

475   Not included in the written evidence. Back

476   WE 141, 00:05:42 Back

477   WE 146 Back

478   WE 147 Back

479   WE 148 Back

480   WE 149 Back

481   WE 150 Back

482   WE 151 Back

483   Not included in the written evidence. Back

484   Not included in the written evidence. Back

485   Not included in the written evidence. Back

486   Not included in the written evidence. Back

487   Not included in the written evidence. Back

488   Not included in the written evidence. The Registrar said she had referred to "draft e-mails" from the Executive Assistant. This is because it was her practice to print off e-mails for filing before she actually sent them. Evidence (for instance, responses) suggests that they were indeed sent. Back

489   WE 149 Back

490   WE 152. My letters to the Registrar of 15 July and 2 September, and her response of 9 September, together with its enclosures. Back

491   WE 141, 00:08:14 Back

492   WE 153 Back

493   WE 148 Back

494   WE 147 Back

495   WE 154 Back

496   WE 155 Back

497   WE 148 Back

498   WE 156 Back

499   WE 141, 00:23:20 Back

500   WE 142 Back

501   WE 141, 00:24:38 Back

502   WE 141, 00:11:24 Back

503   WE 141, 00:00:23 Back

504   WE 141, 00:03:23  Back

505   WE 141, 00:08:56 Back

506   WE 141, 00:19:21 Back

507   WE 141, 00:29:10 Back

508   WE 141, 00:05:42 Back

509   WE 141, 00:06:06 Back

510   WE 98 and WE 90, 00:23:36 Back

511   WE 27, 00:02:08, and WE 29 Back

512   Paragraph 1a of the Conduct of Conduct for Members of Parliament Back

513   Paragraph 2 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament Back

514   WE 90, 00:23:54 Back

515   The first sentence of paragraph 86 reads, "The requirement to declare a relevant interest at the appropriate time covers almost every aspect of a Member's parliamentary duties extending to correspondence and meetings with Ministers and public officials." Back

516   WE 90 00.22.52 Back

517   WE 90, 00:28:22 Back

518   The first sentence of paragraph 86 of the 2009 Guide to the Rules reads, "The requirement to declare a relevant interest at the appropriate time covers almost every aspect of a Member's parliamentary duties extending to correspondence and meetings with Ministers and public officials." Back

519   See footnote number 369 above and WE 112  Back

520   Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of Members, 2009, paragraphs 95 to 101 Back


 
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