Appendix: Memoranda from the Parliamentary
Commissioner for StandardsComplaint against Rt Hon Sir
Malcolm Rifkind QC MP and Rt Hon Jack Straw MP |
Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind
1) On 23 February 2015 articles appeared in The
Daily Telegraph newspaper alleging that Sir Malcolm had offered
to use his position as a politician to lobby on behalf of a fictitious
Chinese company (PMR) in return for payment.
This allegation was repeated and developed by the newspaper and
in the Channel 4 television programme, Dispatches, on the
evening of 23 February 2015.
In the subsequent media coverage, it was reported that Sir Malcolm
had referred himself to the Commissioner.
2) I would usually expect the complainant or a Member
making a self-referral to set out the allegations to be investigated.
I would then consider whether there was sufficient evidence to
justify the initiation of an inquiry. However, having seen the
media coverage, including several references to Sir Malcolm having
referred the allegations to me for investigation, I decided to
start an inquiry on my own initiative and to determine for myself
the issues for investigation.
3) The matters I investigated, set out in my letter
to Sir Malcolm on 26 February 2015
when I initiated my investigation, were whether, contrary to the
rules of the House, he had engaged in lobbying for reward or consideration
and whether his conduct was such as to cause serious damage to
the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole,
or of its Members generally. On 27 February Sir Malcolm wrote
to me to acknowledge
receipt of my letter and express his regret that he had not written
to me sooner.
Relevant Rules of the House
4) The Code of Conduct
provides the following rules:
Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House
in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of
Members' Financial Interests. They shall always be open and frank
in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding
of the House or its Committees, and in any communications with
Ministers, Members, public officials or public office holders.
Members are personally responsible and accountable for ensuring
that their use of any expenses, allowances, facilities and services
provided from the public purse is in accordance with the rules
laid down on these matters. Members shall ensure that their use
of public resources is always in support of their parliamentary
duties. It should not confer any undue personal or financial benefit
on themselves or anyone else, or confer undue advantage on a political
Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant
damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons
as a whole, or of its Members generally."
5) The detailed rules in relation to the registration
and declaration of Members' interests are set out in Parts 1 and
2 of the Guide to the Rules. The rules on lobbying for reward
or consideration are set out in part 3 of the Guide to the Rules.
Paragraph 89 of the rules says:
"On 6 November 1995
the House agreed to the following Resolution relating to lobbying
for reward or consideration:
"it is inconsistent with the dignity of
the House, with the duty of a Member to his constituents, and
with the maintenance of the privilege of freedom of speech, for
any Member of this House to enter into any contractual agreement
with an outside body, controlling or limiting the Member's complete
independence and freedom of action in Parliament or stipulating
that he shall act in any way as the representative of such outside
body in regard to any matters to be transacted in Parliament;
the duty of the Member being to his constituents and to the country
as a whole, rather than to any particular section thereof; and
that in particular no Members of the House shall, in consideration
of any remuneration, fee, payment, or reward or benefit in kind,
direct or indirect, which the Member or any member of his or her
family has received, is receiving or expects to receive-
i) Advocate or initiate any cause or matter on
behalf of any outside body or individual, or
ii) urge any other Member of either House of
Parliament, including Ministers, to do so,
by means of
any approach, whether oral
or in writing, to Ministers or servants of the Crown"
6) Paragraph 90 of the Guide to the Rules continues:
"This Resolution prohibits paid advocacy.
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."
Summary of Events
7) An independent television company, Vera Productions
Ltd, decided to investigate whether the behaviour of Members of
Parliament was in keeping with the House of Commons Code of Conduct
and in particular, wished to make comparisons with the programme
"Politicians for Hire" which had been broadcast
in March 2010. Approaches were made to 12 Members to ask whether
they would be interested in joining the Advisory Board of a fictitious
Chinese company named PMR. Of the 12 Members approached, two responded
positively to a request for a meeting. Sir Malcolm was one of
these. Two reporters covertly recorded two meetings with him,
on 7 and 13 January 2015, which subsequently featured in a Dispatches
programme broadcast on 23 February 2015. The programme, and
supporting articles in the Daily Telegraph, made allegations
that Sir Malcolm had demonstrated his willingness to breach the
Rules of the House by using his position and contacts for personal
gain, for a fee from a company on which he had not carried out
due diligence. He was also alleged to have offered to host a private
business meeting in his parliamentary office and to provide a
personal tour of Parliament for a business contact. It was alleged
that he had also said he could seek information on PMR's behalf
without disclosing the organisation's name and that he had said
he was self-employed and did not receive a salary.
8) Following the broadcast, on 24 February, the Conservative
whip was removed from Sir Malcolm, who announced that, in order
not to distract from its work, he was standing down from his position
as Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee. He also announced
that as an inquiry would take several months he would not stand
for re-election in May 2015. He asserted throughout that, although
he had made mistakes, he had not broken any rules or committed
9) Although Sir Malcolm had said publicly that he
had referred himself to me, this was not in fact the case. After
telephoning his office on two occasions and being told that he
had written to me, I decided to start an investigation on my own
initiative and wrote to Sir Malcolm on 26 February.
Evidence from Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph
10) On 26 February I wrote to the Executive Producer
of the production company
and to the editor of The Daily Telegraph asking for their
assistance with my inquiry and in particular for:
"the full and unedited footage which formed
the basis of the articles in The Daily Telegraph, including any
un-broadcast and unpublished footage, together with any transcripts
of the conversations. It would also be helpful to have any correspondence
you or your reporters have had with Sir Malcolm or his representatives
in the course of and after the preparation of the articles."
11) After exchanges by email and telephone, Channel
4, who had commissioned the programme, provided recordings of
the two interviews, transcripts and copies of letters and emails
to Sir Malcolm on 17 April.
Having checked the transcripts for accuracy, I provided copies
to Sir Malcolm on 28 April and invited his comments.
12) On 19 November 2014 a reporter from Vera Productions
Ltd posing as Lin Zhang, Managing Director of a Chinese firm called
PMR Communications, emailed Sir Malcolm saying;
"I'm writing to ask if you'd be interested
in a new position on an advisory board supporting our clients
based in the Far East. We are a Hong Kong based consultancy, advising
several companies [
. and] looking to set up a London office
and appoint an advisory board made up of senior figures from the
world of politics and business
. We feel your experience
in both the political and commercial spheres makes you an ideal
candidate for the board...."
13) Sir Malcolm's personal assistant responded to
say that he was out of the office.
On 24 November Sir Malcolm emailed personally to express an interest
in the position.
Lin Zhang suggested a telephone conversation to resolve concerns
Sir Malcolm had expressed about possible conflicts of interest
with his current responsibilities. Sir Malcolm replied on 1 December
asking her to contact his personal assistant to arrange either
a telephone call or a face to face meeting. A meeting was arranged
for 7 January at an office in central London. A subsequent meeting
was arranged for 13 January at the same location.
14) Transcripts of both meetings have been provided.
I have shortened these by the removal of general conversations
at the beginning and end of each interview, but I am satisfied
that nothing of any significance to my inquiry has been omitted.
The Dispatches Programme broadcast on 23 February used
quotations from the interviews to support its allegations that
1. corresponded with, and met representatives
of PMR without first carrying out due diligence on the company.
2. demonstrated [himself] as willing to act as
an MP "for hire", using [his] position and contacts
gained in that position for personal gain; in particular
(a) That [he] offered to host PMR in a private
business meeting in [his] parliamentary office and provide a personal
tour of Parliament for the representative's "uncle".
(b) That [he] claimed [he] could facilitate access
to any foreign ambassador in the UK "in a way that is useful".
(c) That [he] said [he] could write to a minister
on PMR's behalf, but wouldn't name on whose behalf [he was] asking,
and that [he] could take soundings on e.g. future plans regarding
(d) That [his] fee, if [he] were to work for
PMR, would be similar to fees [he] had earned in the past. [He]
defined this as being in the region of £5,000 to £8,000
for part of a day.
3 [His] comments in the meetings gave the impression
that [he was] not applying [himself] fully to [his] duties as
an MP; in particular
(a) [He] claimed [he had] a lot of free time;
[he] didn't work for any one person full-time; [he was] self-employed
and that nobody [paid him]a salary.
(b) [He] suggested that the time from Thursday
evening to Monday lunchtime was for [him] "qui et time"."
15) Allegations 1, 2(d) and 3 would not, if proven,
constitute breaches of specific rules. Allegations 2(a), (b) and
(c) might, if proven, amount to breaches of House of Commons rules.
I have considered all of the allegations made because, if proven,
they might contribute to causing serious damage to the reputation
and integrity of the House as whole, or of its Members generally.
1. that [Sir Malcolm] corresponded with, and
met representatives of PMR without first carrying out due diligence
on the company.
16) The first of these allegations is of a failure
to take action by making enquiries about PMR before agreeing to
meet with representatives of the company. It therefore, relies
on an absence of evidence.
17) The evidence cited for each of the remaining
allegations is as follows:
2(a) that [Sir Malcolm] offered to host PMR
in a private business meeting in [his] parliamentary office and
provide a personal tour of Parliament for the representative's
In the first meeting the following exchanges took
(C and L are the two reporters)
"L: Because one of the interests on a personal
or business level, people, a lot of people in China, including
my uncle, are very impressed with the Parliament, the knighthood,
the Lordship and you know the, it's the whole history and everything
MR: Yes, well if I'd known this we could have
had this meeting in my office in Parliament [laughter]next
time you come then.
L: Well it would be even better if he comes.
M: Well, if your uncle
Does he come to
M: No, no, but if he comes, you tell him, that
if he comes
you tell him if he comes I will give him a
personal tour of the British Parliament-
L: Oh fantastic. Thank you. That would be, he
will be so happy.
MR: It's a wonderful building. I enjoy doing
it because I do it for other people as well and I enjoy it, because
it's such a marv
. Have you been there?
MR: It's a lovely building isn't it?
MR: Stunning building, it really is I mean...
And later in the same interview;
"C: Yes, I imagine there will, might be,
a second meeting for us, you'll have more questions, as will we
C: And in terms of what we're going to
MR: Well let me invite you into the House of
MR: If there's a second meeting, please come
MR: If that would be of interest
MR: I'm happy to come here but if it would be
of interest please come and pay me a visit." 
18) This exchange is mentioned in a subsequent email
from the reporter. The second meeting, in fact, took place in
a central London office.
2(b) [Sir Malcolm] claimed [he] could facilitate
access to any foreign ambassador in the UK "in a way that
2(c) [He]said [he]could write to a minister
on PMR's behalf, but wouldn't name on whose behalf he was asking,
and that [he]could take soundings on e.g. future plans regarding
19) Sir Malcolm mentioned on several occasions that
he has extensive political contacts both in this country and abroad.
Specifically, in his first interview he says;
"M: I have quite a lo
. in most of
these countries there are people I, I know, who either I worked
with as a, who were Ministers or who I met since then. I'm still
part of a number of groups. I am for example you have, know who
I mean by Madeleine Albright?
M: The American; former American Secretary of
State. Well she and I are good friends, she's a very old fr...
I worked with her when I was in Government and she chairs a group
of 22 former foreign ministers..
.of various countries. We've all served
as Foreign Minister and we meet several times a year. We're meeting
in China in April...
MR: In Beijing, is our next meeting; beginning
of April, as it happens, and that means you know I still have
the contacts with all these people who have served at a very senior
level, some of them still do so. Some of them are still active.
MR: China, as well as every country in the World.
They are operating in 180 countries so if necessary I can ring
contacts. These are examples.
MR: If you've done the kind of work I've done
over the years, without realizing it, you find you know an awful
lot of people.
C: Absolutely, very lucky.
MR: And they know you and one of the advantages
I haveis very luckyis that because of the jobs I've
done, if I go to a country and I want to see someone, I can usually
In the second interview he says;
"MR: On the political, whether the government
would have a problem, I would speak to the Ambassador in London.
MR: And, I can, because I have been Foreign Minister,
if I wish to speak to an Ambassador they are very happy to speak
MR: They come to see me quite often.
MR: Not on, not on business matters but on political
matters, I have an ambassador in my office once every two or three
C: What do they want to come and see you about?
MR: Well it, ambassadors always are trying to,
they're, they're, being asked to report to their own governments,
what is the political developments in Britain.
MR: You know, so for example, let me give you
an example. There is a debate in Britain about whether we should
continue to stay in the European Union.
MR: And there is to be a referendum in two or
three years. So I had an ambassador from one European country
who came to see me a few weeks ago, he said "can I come and
see you?" I said "yes of course." And he wanted
to discuss how much of a risk is this? Is this likely?
MR: We read about this in the newspapers, um,
C: Yes, what does it all mean?
MR: What does it mean? Should we, you know? Another
ambassador wanted to see me because he wanted to discuss what
was happening in the Middle East.
MR: In Iraq and Syria with the Islamic State,
these terrorist people and so forth. So for example, next week
I shall be at the Jordanian ambassador; he is giving a dinner
for the American Ambassador
and he said, would you be willing to
come and take part in that dinner? I know the American ambassador,
I like to do so
. I specialise in foreign policy.
MR: So, that's what ambassadors are there for.
They want to make contact so they can understand what is happening
in, in Britain and report to their own governments.
L: And they will, for somebody, like if you change,
um, or you retire, for example, or if they retire, does that change,
have they got out of date...?
MR: No. If I left Parliament, erm, I'm still
a former Foreign Minister, and as long as I'm active they will
be, they will wish to.
Not just me, it's not just me personally.
Anybody who has done this kind of job.
MR: The same applies in China. The same applies
in other countries. People who have, who have had the job of being
a foreign minister or a cabinet minister in their own country,
they have experience. And if they are still active in public life
people want to use that experience." 
And with regard to contacting a Minister concerning
publicly announced policy he said:
"MR: If it's a matter of government policy
then there's two aspects to government policy. That which they
have announced and which is public knowledge, you can find it
in the various ways of
MR: Or in my own case I could, I can write to
C: Right. Right. Yeah, that would be useful.
MR: and I would, well I wouldn't name who was
asking, I would say I've been asked to, to establish what your
thinking is on X, Y, Z, can you tell me what that is? I can get
a reply either from the Minister or from one of the senior officials."
2(d) Sir Malcolm's] fee, if [he] were to work
for PMR, would be similar to fees [he] had earned in the past.
[He] defined this as being in the region of 5,000 to £8,000
for part of a day.
20) There are discussions in both interviews about
the level of payment which might be on offer and Sir Malcolm makes
reference to payments which he already received and which are
set out in the Register of Members' Financial Interest, as a point
of reference. For
example during the first interview Sir Malcolm raises the question
Um, one sensitive issue, but I have
to mention it. You mentioned there would be obviously remuneration.
MR: Can you tell me what you are thinking of
in that territory?
C: In some ways I think we would be guided by
you for what you are looking for but roughly for an advisory board
I would have thought between £60-£80 thousand, um, and
then of course if there was
MR: Pounds. £60-80,000 roughly, something
of, something of that order yeah.
C: But of course it would be um, guided by you.
C: And what you were looking for and then, of
course, if there was any additional work one
be um kind of consultancy, we might look at a project and think
actually we all need to get stuck into this, I think that would
probably be done at a day rate, um, but we're, we're very up for
talking about it.
MR: Yes, no, I understand. The normal thing I'm
to expect. You know sort of, the normal structure that you would,
you would obviously cover all the travelling expenses. Your
If there was additional work it would be on, on a day, daily rate,
something, but in terms of basic remuneration you're talking about
something on the £60 to £80,000.
C: Yes, does that sound reasonable to you?
MR: It sounds reasonable. Yes, yes, that does
sound reasonable um, I'd have to think about it but I don't immediately
say no that's not, that's not realistic.
L: Does that sound like your usual package that
you're used to?
C: Yes, I don't know what your other packages
MR: um, It depends, it varies because it depends
on the commitment. You know, so there's no single figure. I'd
need to think about
that's why I'm interested to know what
sort of commitment you're expecting and requiring and then against
that one works out what is fair.
MR: Because the test is what is fair to me and
what is fair to you if we were to, to go ahead. But from what
you've said so far I think we, we are in similar territory, if
I can put it that way.
MR: If I can put it that way. I don't find any
MR: it doesn't jolt
Later in the interview, the reporter asks about Sir
Malcolm's day rates.
L: Okay, is there a range? So I can get some
reference for my uncle?
MR: Um, Normally I, well I can
give it as an example, but um, when I did a series of presentations
for JP Morgan and for a number of other City of London
the Middle East, and that was usually something in the order of
I mean it wasn't a whole day, it was usually a whole morning
or an afternoon and that was somewhere in the region of £5,000
to £8,000. Something of that kind. Something of that kind.
But it, it varies. Don't take that as an absolute given but it
was something of that, something of that order. I'm not an American.
I, I, I have fewer zeros [laughs]
21) The question of remuneration was also raised
in the second interview,
when the discussion covered much the same ground as in the first.
3(a) [he] claimed [he had] a lot of free time;
[he] didn't work for any one person full-time; [he was] self-employed
and that nobody pays [him] a salary; and
3(b) [Sir Malcolm] suggested that the time
from Thursday evening to Monday lunchtime was for [him] "qui
22) During that interview Sir Malcolm said:
"MR: Well I am very busy. Because I'm used
to it. I'll tell you, you're quite right, you're absolutely right.
Because erm, for 18 years I was a, a government minister, and
I had no free time at all. And I enjoyed that. But when that stopped,
right, you can't just spend your time doing nothing.
MR: You know, it's part, it becomes part of your
DNA. You have to be busy, you know, because I find it stimulating,
and it's how you use your time. So you'd be surprised how much
free time I have. I spend a lot of time reading, I spend a lot
of time walking. Because, because I'm not a Minister or full-time
working for one person I can sort out my day. So, that I, I may
have three or four things that day, but in between if I want to
I go for a walk.
C: Yes. That's nice. It's a good way to live,
MR: I can go and have a cup of coffee. Now if
you're, if you're employed to work nine to five or nine to eight,
you know, you have to get someone's permission to do something
else, and there's nothing wrong with that- that's how most people
live their lives. I'm self-employed. So nobody pays me a salary,
I have to earn my income, but when I'm not doing something I can
do what I like. And because I'm in my sixties that's how I, how
I prefer it.
C: Yeah, well that sounds like a good situation.
L: You also don't seem to travel as much as the
MR: That's the other point we discussed last
week. Because if as a Member of Parliament I was travelling back
and forth to Edinburgh or Birmingham or Glasgow or something that
would take up the whole day each time you travel.
MR: No, I mean, for example, most Members of
Parliament leave London on a Thursday evening and don't come back
till Monday lunchtime. So they're in another part of the country.
For me that is quiet time [laughs]. It's easy."
23) I have set out fairly lengthy quotations on each
of these issues to ensure that they reflect the context in which
the remarks were made. Overall the two meetings are exploratory
discussions of the kind of role Sir Malcolm might play as a member
of the Advisory Board, his experience and its relevance and the
possible remuneration. Sir Malcolm points to other relevant quotations
in his evidence.
Evidence from Sir Malcolm
24) In response to my letter to Sir Malcolm, on 10
March he sent me an initial statement and paperwork relating to
his contact with Vera Productions Ltd.
His paper set out his background as a Member over two periods
(1974-97 and 2005 onwards) and he commented that this was the
first time that his conduct had been called into question. He
told me that, with the consent of his local Conservative Association,
he had continued with some of the business interests he had developed
while he was outside Parliament. He estimated that he spent at
least 75% of his time on parliamentary and constituency matters.
He said his business activities have been advisory or non-executive
roles, principally based in London; and overseas travel for business
purposes has been limited. For family reasons he sought a London
constituency when he was selected for a second time, in order
to reduce the amount of travel between his constituency and Westminster,
and to enable constituency work to be done during the week. Sir
Malcolm said that business interests are accepted by the House
as being legitimate and his "present parliamentary and
business interests do not begin to compare with the burden I had
to shoulder as a senior minister."
25) Sir Malcolm went on to explain the approach made
to him by email by PMR concerning a possible position on a new
Advisory Board. He had responded to express an interest but had
said, "I would need to be satisfied that there would not
be any conflict of interest with my current responsibilities and
that the time that would be required to meet your needs would
not be a problem."
He said that he considered his experience as a Minister of State
for Europe and as Foreign Secretary was the probable reason why
he had been approached. He said that he was familiar with Advisory
Boards and did not have any reason to think that lobbying might
be involved. He also said that, "normally, due diligence
is done when a firm proposal is made. No such proposal was ever
26) With regard to the two interviews, Sir Malcolm
told me that much of the discussion was relevant to the purpose
of the Advisory Board, but he was surprised by the discussion
of HS3 since there is no such project at the moment. It was in
this context that he told me "I had already made clear
to them that on any subject that might come before an advisory
board, I would not be able to assist with access to any information
that was privileged or secret. That I made this clear is not in
dispute. The letter I received from Vera, the production company
acting on behalf of Channel 4, says, specifically, that they acknowledge
that I made clear that I could not assist them with "access
to any privileged or secret information"
27) Sir Malcolm had told the reporters explicitly
that "You cannot give privileged information to one private
citizen or a company that is not available to others". This
was acknowledged during the Dispatches programme, which
included a voiceover which says "Sir Malcolm does make
clear the limitations of what can be achieved" before
using the words quoted at the start of this paragraph.
28) At the time Sir Malcolm gave me his initial statement
he had not seen any of the transcripts. He later commented in
more detail, and I deal with those comments below.
29) Sir Malcolm did accept that he may have said
something like; "I wouldn't name who was asking but I would
say I've been asked to establish what your thinking is on XYX".
"I do recall saying something of this kind,
though not the precise words. I have tried to remember why I may
have used those words and what I had in mind.
I would make the following points.
1. At the time there was no Advisory Board nor
any decision by me as to whether I would wish to serve on one.
2. Accordingly, at no time did I say, or could
I have said, that I was intending to write to a Minister on their
3. The discussion was restricted to how, theoretically,
one could ascertain what information was in the public domain.
I was suggesting to them various ways that this could be done.
4. I believe that I did suggest that, in my opinion,
writing to a Minister was one option that it would be proper for
me to do if I was a member of an advisory board.
5. I was aware that if, as an MP, I wrote to
a Minister on behalf of someone else I should say so. It is acknowledged
that I said that if I, hypothetically, were to write such a letter
I would need to say "I've been asked to establish ...."
6. I am not clear in my own mind why I obviously
thought at the time that it would not be necessary to mention
the name of the people on whose behalf I might be writing. I think
it must have been because I assumed that as it was only information
already in the public domain about which one was enquiring, it
wouldn't be necessary.
You will come to a view as to whether I was wrong
in that assumption. I recognize that I may have been but, if so,
it was an honest mistake [
Most important of all, I was doing no more than
expressing an off the cuff opinion of what might be permissible.
Opinions expressed may, sometimes, turn out to have been mistaken.
Off the cuff opinions are even more likely to be! Expressing a
mistaken opinion is not, in itself, improper, I would suggest,
if the mistake has been made in good faith."
30) In his statement, Sir Malcolm went on to give
an initial response to allegations that he was offering access
to ambassadors for cash, that he said he did not receive a salary
and the suggestion that he would expect £5,000 per day. As
I have noted above, at this time he had not had access to the
recording and understandably could not recall his exact remarks.
He commented overall that the media presented information "in
a distorted manner" and with regard to his comment that
he did not receive a salary he said, "Again, by quoting
this out of context it appeared a ridiculous statement. I was,
obviously, aware that I receive a salary. [
] but I am certain
this was said when I was referring to my business interests. As
regards these I am either a non-executive director or a consultant.
In neither case am I employed nor do I receive a salary. This
is another example of how remarks made in an informal conversation
can be distorted by amoral journalists." He concluded
this statement by saying that; "I have never engaged in
lobbying nor have ever offered to. During my years as an MP I
have never undertaken, nor would undertake, any lobbying as an
MP on behalf of any private organisation from which I was receiving
] I consider it improper for an MP to undertake
such work. [
.] There is nothing that I said, did, or contemplated
in these discussions that constituted lobbying. Indeed, to be
fair nor was there any request or suggestions from those I was
meeting that I should act in such a fashion." Sir Malcolm
enclosed with his statement copies of the emails and letters exchanged
with Channel 4 before the programme was shown.
31) On 28 April
I shared with Sir Malcolm the transcripts of the two meetings
which he held with the reporters and his response, received on
4 May is included in the evidence.
He acknowledged that "All the relevant information is,
therefore, now available and not in dispute" and said
he did not wish to amend his original statement. Sir Malcolm used
the evidence of the transcripts to strengthen points he had made
in his first submission. Additionally he said:
"As the transcripts make clear, at no time,
did I suggest that my status as an MP could be used to their advantage.
Indeed when asked, on more than one occasion, what added value
I could provide to an Advisory Board I not only made no mention
of my being an MP but, repeatedly, stressed my business experience
in the private sector as the most important consideration."
He commented that:
"It was agreed by me and those I was speaking
to that the purpose of meeting with an ambassador would be limited
to ascertaining whether their government would have any problem
with a proposal for investment in their country by a foreign company".
32) Although I have not relied on the Dispatches
programme itself as a source of evidence, I did request
a transcript of the programme. On 4 June Sir Malcolm sent me his
comments on the transcript provided.
"It is a disturbing example of how "cut
and paste" journalism can not only sensationalise but also
be used, deliberately or through incompetence, to mislead the
Throughout the transcript there are questions
posed which are combined with quotations from me presented to
the viewer as if my remarks were, during the actual meeting, given
in response to the same questions. As can be seen by comparing
these extracts with the full transcript it is clear that my remarks
were either to different questions or in a quite different context".
33) Sir Malcolm sets out five examples of this, one
of which I quote here. The whole of Sir Malcolm's comments and
the other examples, are included in the evidence.
The narrator says "We discussed with Sir
Malcolm what he thought he could bring to a role on the board".
They then use again my remark on knowing foreign
Ambassadors in London with the clear inference that this was what
I thought I could bring to a role on their board. The transcript
makes clear that that is a dishonest distortion of what was, actually,
In the first transcript at page 16 I am asked
"what you think you'd bring to the board? In my answer I
make no reference to ambassadors at all. I reply that my experience
of the European Union and how it works would be of value. A second
example I give is in the assessment of political risk in various
Eastern European countries, including Russia.
I am asked again (transcript 2, page 20) "What
would you say, if we have you on the board would be the most value
Again, I make no reference to access to ambassadors.
Instead I say that it is the combination of my political experience
with 20 years of commercial experience in the private sector that
would be the added value."
34) A further note from Sir Malcolm on 11 June is
also attached in evidence.
35) Sir Malcolm came to my office for an interview
on 15 June. The interview was recorded and the transcript has
been agreed with some redactions.
Sir Malcom was very open with me in interview and I have redacted
personal information and confidential information about companies
with which he has had contact. I asked Sir Malcolm some specific
questions to clarify the evidence he had already given and about
the impact of these events upon him. In particular, it was as
a direct result of the allegations made against him that Sir Malcolm
did not stand as a candidate in the May election. He had not been
intending to stand down at this stage. (In commenting on the factual
accuracy of a draft of this report, Sir Malcolm told me that he
had decided that it would be unfair to his constituents to be
a candidate at the election while there was a Parliamentary Inquiry
taking place with regard to these allegations.) Sir Malcolm acknowledged
that he did, of course, receive a salary as an MP. He did not
receive an additional payment for his chairing of the Intelligence
and Security Committee.
36) Sir Malcolm explained statements he had made
about how busy he was, the arrangement of his constituency work
and the closeness of his home and his constituency to the House,
which removed the need for any significant amounts of travelling
time. He also clarified the statement he had made that he was
"self-employed" and acknowledged that it was a "stupid
remark" He went on to say; "You will have seen
the context. It was a silly remark, because it's obviously nonsense
and such obvious nonsense I wasn't deceiving anyone, or trying
to deceive anyone. It was just a silly way of putting it. [
Talking about life, I said, either as a consultant or as a non-executive
director, I get remuneration, but I don't receive a salary. That's
my version, but it was a silly way of putting it. I am not even
going to try to defend it at all". Sir Malcolm has also
said "I think I said I made some errors of judgment
37) We discussed the nature of the meetings which
had taken place with PMR and I asked Sir Malcolm whether had seen
them as the beginning of a job recruitment process. He said; "Notwell,
it may be from their perspective. No. Somebody asked me-suggested
that I got involved in the negotiation. I didn't get involved
in negotiation. We never reached that stage."
38) I also asked Sir Malcolm whether he considered
he was holding business meetings and after some discussion he
concluded, "From my perspective, at that stage, I do not
even know whether I want to have a relationship with them at all
at that stage, so I do not see it as a business meeting, but it
obviously is a meeting which, if it leads to other things, will
end up as a business relationship
". I reminded him
about an email he had sent to Vera Productions Ltd on 11 February
2015. In that email he says, "You suggest that I offered
"to host PMR in a private business meeting in my parliamentary
office and provide a personal tour of Parliament". This is
a travesty of the actual conversation. Ms Zheng indicated that
she had never visited Parliament and I invited her, if she wish
to visit me in my office. I did, indeed, say that I would be happy
to show her uncle around, as well. No business meeting in my office
was asked for nor proposed." 
The transcript shows that email to be incorrect.
39) Sir Malcolm agreed. He said "it would be
incorrect to imply this did not happen. Of course I said it, but
that was-she had said her- I was doing what I would do with anyone.
If people tell me that they have never been to Parliament and
they would love to see round it, that is what one does. I think
every MP does that."
Evidence from the Registrar
40) I wrote to the Registrar on 12 June seeking information
about Sir Malcolm's registered entries and any correspondence
that she might have had with him. 
The Registrar responded on 15 June indicating that the majority
of positions mentioned by Sir Malcolm were recorded in the Register
and that three others might well have dated from a time when he
was not a Member of the House. (Sir Malcolm has since confirmed
that this is correct.) She added that:
"Our correspondence with Sir Malcolm's office
during the last Parliament was limited to routine exchanges about
Register entries and reminders about registering individual payments.
We do not hold any contractual information relating to any of
Sir Malcolm's outside work. We would expect to hold this only
if a Member is providing services in their capacity as an MP.
Sir Malcolm told us in February 2012 that he did not provide such
Statement of facts
41) I consider the following to be established facts.
It is on these that I base my conclusions.
19 November 2014 a reporter using the name of Lin Zhang emailed
Sir Malcolm to ask if he would be interested in a position on
the Advisory Board of a fictitious company named PMR.
email exchanges with Sir Malcolm and his PA, the two reporters
arranged two meetings with Sir Malcolm. On each occasion they
made a video recording of the interview without his knowledge.
· On 10
February 2015, Vera Productions Ltd wrote to Sir Malcolm making
a number of allegations which they said were evidenced by the
recordings and which they proposed to use in a Dispatches Programme
on Channel 4 and in associated articles in the Daily Telegraph.
first article appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 23 February
2015 and the Dispatches Programme was also broadcast on
· On 24
February Sir Malcolm was interviewed on the Today programme.
He denied any wrong doing and said that he had referred himself
to the Commissioner for Standards.
that morning Sir Malcolm resigned from his position as Chair of
the Intelligence and Security Committee. The Conservative whip
was withdrawn and he announced that he would retire from the House
of Commons. (He had previously intended to stand for re-election.)
· On 26
February following two attempts to contact Sir Malcolm through
his office, I wrote to him to say that I would begin an inquiry
on my own initiative.
Malcolm told the reporters that he was self-employed.
Malcolm offered a future meeting with PMR at the House of Commons
and offered to give them a tour of Parliament. Neither the meeting
nor the tour took place.
Malcolm told reporters that, when writing to seek information
already in the public domain, he could say that he had been asked
to make enquiries but need not say on whose behalf.
42) The first matter raised by Vera Productions in
their letter to Sir Malcolm was that he had; "corresponded
with, and met representatives of PMR without first carrying out
due diligence on the company." As I said earlier, the
allegation relies on an absence of evidence and Sir Malcolm does
not deny that he had made no enquiries. He has stated his view
that it is usual to undertake 'due diligence' at the time when
an offer of appointment is made. The allegation has no bearing
on the rules of the House nor on whether Sir Malcolm was prepared
to engage in lobbying. I therefore do not propose to consider
43) When I wrote to Sir Malcolm to initiate this
inquiry I said that I would investigate whether he had, contrary
to the rules of the House, engaged in lobbying for reward or consideration
and whether his conduct was such as to cause serious damage to
the reputation and integrity of the House. The basis for the inquiry
was media coverage of two interviews with Sir Malcolm undertaken
by undercover reporters. Following those interviews the production
company had written to Sir Malcolm alleging specifically that
Sir Malcolm had demonstrated his willingness to engage in lobbying
that he could seek information on behalf of a company without
disclosing the organisation's name; and 
to hold a private business meeting in his office and to provide
a personal tour of Parliament for a business contact.
44) Sir Malcolm has accepted from the outset that
in the course of the two interviews he had said a couple of "silly"
or "stupid" things, in particular in relation to whether
or not he received a salary.
As Sir Malcolm has since acknowledged to me, he was not self-employed
and he did receive a salary (as a public office holder) in his
capacity as a Member of Parliament.
45) The context in which these unwise comments were
made became much clearer during my investigation, when I had the
benefit of the transcripts of the unedited interviews. These comments
and the way they were reported coloured much of the publicity
surrounding the television programme. In interview I asked Sir
Malcolm to explain his position with regard to these comments.
He then acknowledged that he had made "errors of judgement"
and "off the cuff" remarks, about which he might
have been "mistaken".
While those errors allowed others to draw unflattering inferences,
they do not provide evidence that Sir Malcolm had done anything
which could be considered a breach of the rules on lobbying. Nor
do those comments in themselves amount to a breach of any other
of the rules of conduct.
46) Sir Malcolm could find himself in breach of the
rules if he wrote to a Minister without disclosing any relevant
financial interest which he had in a matter, but he made no offer
to do so for PMR. The discussion was a hypothetical one. Having
considered carefully the transcripts of the unedited interviews,
I am satisfied that this was in the context of seeking information
already in the public domain and Sir Malcolm had made it clear
that he could not obtain information on behalf of a company if
that information was not public.
47) For example, in the second interview the following
exchange takes place;
MR: People say, "We want [inaudible] a big
campaign to ease the traffic by building some new road. In such
a situation they will be only too happy to say yes, we're thinking
about it. That's when they'll be wanting to say it. But sometimes
it will be for other reasons. So there's no simple...
L: So they won't tell us, of course, but will
they tell you?
MR: They won't tell me either. Certainly not.
MR: I hope not, because as a citizen I'd be very
worried about that. No, no, no we have quite
they have to
be very careful. You cannot give privileged information to one
private citizen or a company that is not available to others.
Because that, why should they? There is no benefit from their
point of view, and they will simply be severely criticised. But
there is an awful lot of information which is not secret which
if you ask the right questions you'll get the answer."
48) Sir Malcolm has since acknowledged that he may
have been wrong to suggest that when seeking publicly available
information he would need only to say that he had been "asked
to establish what the thinking is on X, Y, Z" and would
not need to say on whose behalf of the enquiry was made.
If a Member corresponds with someone about a matter in which they
have a relevant financial interest, they must obey the rules on
declaration and observe the prohibition on lobbying for reward
or consideration. Those specific rules should, of course, be read
in the context of the general principles of conduct, particularly
that of openness.
49) However, I do not consider Sir Malcolm's words
to amount to evidence of a willingness to breach those rules;
I accept his explanation that this was an 'off the cuff' remark.
While he was wrong to suggest that he need not say on whose behalf
he was enquiring if he were to make an enquiry, I have found no
evidence to support the principal allegation that Sir Malcolm
engaged in lobbying or was prepared to do so.
50) In interview I asked Sir Malcolm if he had seen
the two meetings with the reporters as the beginning of a recruitment
process. He accepted that they might have viewed them in that
light but said that "I didn't get involved in negotiation.
We never reached that stage." While I am satisfied that
the meetings between Sir Malcolm and PMR did not reach the stage
of formal negotiations, I do think they were conducted on the
basis of at least the preliminary stages of a recruitment process.
Sir Malcolm's comments on possible payment, on the extent of his
contacts (which he agrees might have been slightly exaggerated),
and a joke about not suggesting anyone else who could possibly
be suitable can all be seen within that context.
"Sir Malcolm Rifkind: But when one
thinks about it, that is basically the thrust of the Channel 4
. That's basically what they were really
objecting to. It was not because I was an MPnot the experience
I got as an MP. It was the fact that, as a former Ministeralthough
in my case 18 years beforeI had an experience and I knew
people and had various contacts that might be relevant.
Kathryn Hudson: And the suggestion that
you knew all the ambassadors there were in London?
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Well, not them all.
Kathryn Hudson: It comes across that way.
So there might be a slight exaggeration there, perhaps.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: It was a private
conversation, which, you know, wasn't formal evidence."
51) The first meeting ends with an exchange about
a second meeting in which both sides would have further questions
and a more senior person might be involved. While I accept that
Sir Malcolm did not regard his discussions with PMR as part of
a negotiation process, I do think this is evidence of the preliminary
stages of a recruitment process. Viewed in this light, Sir Malcolm's
offer to hold a meeting in his office in the House and to provide
a tour of Parliament could potentially put him in breach of the
rules. At interview he says,
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: It is where she says,
"Because one of the interests on a personal business level,
a lot of people in China, including my uncle, are very impressed
with the Parliament, the knighthood, the lordship, and, you know,
it is the whole history and everything." Yes, well, if I
had known this, we could have had this meeting in my office in
Parliament, laughter. That happens to me all the time, and it
happens to every MP all the time. We are all very proud of the
building. We love showing people round, and whenever anybody over
the last 33 years has said to me, "I have never been to Parliament,"
or "I'd love to see Parliament," I say, "Look,
come. We can meet in my office and I will show you round.
Kathryn Hudson: Without wanting to make
too much of an issue of this, there is a point I think early on
when you say no, you did not offer to hold a meeting in your office,
and I wondered whether, in the light of having read this, you
accept that you did at least offer
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Well, I agreed to
meet them in my office. [
.] I certainlyI do not for
a moment denyit would be incorrect to imply that this did
not happen. Of course I said it, but that wasshe had said
herI was doing what I would do with anyone. If people tell
me that they have never been to Parliament and they would love
to see around it, that is what one does. I think every MP does
52) A previous Commissioner accepted that the rules
about the use of Members' offices need to be "operated
with a sense of proportion". I agree. In 2010 the Commissioner
said "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 it is
clear that [the Member]'s suggestion was indeed intended to boost
his employment prospects (he said "the Americans love it
by the way"). Had [the Member] used House facilities for
this purpose, I consider that would have been a breach of the
rules of the House
53) Had Sir Malcolm's offer been taken up, particularly
after the second meeting when it was clear that PMR were likely
to have further questions relating to the possibility of employing
him, Sir Malcolm might then have been in breach of the rules by
using parliamentary resources for the purpose of boosting his
54) For completeness, I turn now to the involvement
of Sir Malcolm's personal assistant in making appointments for
him with PMR. 
(It would be for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
(IPSA)which administers the system for parliamentary expensesto
make a formal determination on a specific allegation of a misuse
of her time. I have, therefore, considered only whether I should
refer the matter to them.) In the course of my interview with
Sir Malcolm I asked about how he managed administration relating
to his external interests and in particular about the use of his
personal assistant. Sir Malcolm said that her job was to ensure
that "anything I did would not interfere with a parliamentary
] you can only have that kind of situation
working if one person is responsible for the diary. If that doesn't
work-it was actually very infrequent but nevertheless it made
sense to do that." Sir Malcolm told me that he managed
other business related to his external commitments himself.
55) In 2006-07 the Standards and Privileges Committee
said "[The Member] fairly makes the point and the Commissioner
accepts, that the intertwining of Members' various capacities-as
parliamentarians, party members, and private individuals-means
that it would be impracticable to require that only business which
is exclusively parliamentary in nature can ever be conducted by
Members from their offices on the parliamentary estate."
While that comment was made in a different context, I think it
is relevant to this case and, in light of that, I find no evidence
which would justify a referral of this matter to IPSA for formal
56) In summary, while Sir Malcolm did indeed make
some errors of judgement, which he has since acknowledged, I find
no evidence that he was in breach of the rules of the House by
engaging in lobbying. Other allegations made concerning him did
not constitute breaches of the rules of the House. Sir Malcolm
has suffered as a result of the allegations and inferences made,
which were covered widely in the media; he gave up the chairmanship
of the Intelligence and Security Committee and he decided to retire
from the House of Commons sooner than he had planned.
57) While I do think it is possible to cause significant
damage to the reputation and integrity of the House as a whole,
or of its Members generally without being in breach of any of
the other rules, I do not think Sir Malcolm has done so. Sir Malcolm's
errors of judgement may reflect upon him but not upon other Members
or the House itself. I therefore do not find him in breach of
paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct.
7 One example can be seen at WE2 Back
HC1885: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmcode/1885/188501.htm Back
The Resolution was subsequently amended on 14 May 2002 Back
WE12, 13, 14 Back
WE10, email 1 Back
WE10, email 2 Back
WE10, email 3 Back
WE 10, email 3 Back
WE16 & 17 Back
WE19 & 20 Back
WE22 & 23 Back
WE 24 Back
HC 654-11, Committee on Standards and Privileges, Ninth Report
of Session 2010-11 Volume II Back
HC 429, Committee on Standards and Privileges, Second Report of
Session 2006-07 Back