The conduct of Lord Cunningham of Felling - Committee for Privileges and Conduct Contents


ANNEX 2: REPORT BY THE HOUSE OF LORDS COMMISSIONER FOR STANDARDS


Summary of allegations

1. On 2 June 2013 The Sunday Times newspaper published articles headlined "Cash for access: Lords exposed", "Getting to see ministers is part of the package", "Job swap 'coterie' to beat rules" and "How to buy a group of MPs and peers" (appendix A). The articles alleged that several members of the House of Lords, including Lord Cunningham of Felling, had breached the Code of Conduct. The allegations arose from an investigation by The Sunday Times which involved discussions between members and journalists posing as consultants purportedly acting on behalf of a South Korean solar energy company. The journalists met the members concerned and covertly recorded the conversations. Separate reports will be submitted in respect of each of the four members against whom The Sunday Times made allegations (though stories were published in respect of only three of them).

2. Lord Cunningham of Felling wrote to me on 1 June 2013 (appendix B) requesting that I investigate his conduct, on the basis of the allegations to be published by The Sunday Times the next day. Lord Cunningham had contacted the Clerk of the Parliaments, the Registrar of Lords' Interests and the Opposition Leader and Chief Whip in the Lords on 22 May 2013 reporting his discussion with the undercover journalists and stating that he had concluded that the journalists were bogus. In compliance with paragraph 103 of the Guide to the Code of Conduct, I obtained the agreement of the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct to initiate an investigation on the basis of Lord Cunningham's self-referral.

3. I wrote to Lord Cunningham on 7 June 2013 (appendix C) to advise him that I was investigating him and specifically drew his attention to the following provisions of the 2010 Code of Conduct:

    "7. In the conduct of their parliamentary duties, Members of the House shall base their actions on consideration of the public interest, and shall resolve any conflict between their personal interest and the public interest at once, and in favour of the public interest.

    8. Members of the House:

(a)  must comply with the Code of Conduct;

(b)  should always act on their personal honour;

(c)  must never accept or agree to accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence;

(d)  must not seek to profit from membership of the House by accepting or agreeing to accept payment or other incentive or reward in return for providing  parliamentary advice or services.

    10. In order to assist in openness and accountability Members shall: …

(c)  act in accordance with any rules agreed by the House in respect of financial support for Members or the facilities of the House.

    14. A Member must not act as a paid advocate in any proceedings of the House; that is to say, he or she must not seek by parliamentary means to confer exclusive benefit on an outside body or person from which he or she receives payment or reward."

I also drew Lord Cunningham's attention to relevant paragraphs of the Guide to the Code of Conduct, including those relevant to the use of facilities and services, and highlighted the seven general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life and incorporated in paragraph 9 of the Code. I sent Lord Cunningham copies of two House Committee reports which set out the rules on the use of the facilities of the House.[1]

4. Lord Cunningham replied in a submission dated 4 July 2013 (appendix D). On 24 July 2013 I sent Lord Cunningham a copy of the transcript provided by The Sunday Times of his conversation with their undercover journalists on 21 May 2013 (appendix E), together with emails exchanged between Lord Cunningham and The Sunday Times before the conversation and after the conversation but prior to publication (appendix F). Lord Cunningham supplied a second response on 5 August 2013 following receipt of the transcript (appendix G). I interviewed Lord Cunningham on 1 October 2013 (appendix H).

Precedents

5. Each case I investigate is determined on its individual merits. However, it is important that there is consistency between cases and that decisions made by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct and the Committee for Privileges and Conduct are recognised, respected and influence future investigations where appropriate. Previous decisions approved by the House provide useful precedents and assist all concerned, including individual members, in interpreting the Code. This applies to cases decided before the new Code of Conduct came into force, when the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests (as it then was) conducted the initial investigation, where the provisions of the Code have not changed materially.

6. Many of the key issues raised in this case were addressed by the Committee for Privileges in its 2009 report on four peers,[2] which was agreed by the House.[3] In those cases the members concerned had been the subject of an undercover operation by Sunday Times journalists—in that instance to see whether peers would be prepared to table amendments to a bill in return for payment by a (fictitious) organisation. On the issue of entrapment the Committee for Privileges found as follows:

    "Entrapment

    12. Our responsibility, and that of the Sub-Committee, is to investigate allegations of non-compliance by Members of the House with the Code of Conduct. As the Sub-Committee point out, it was not our role "to adjudicate on a conflict between The Sunday Times and the Lords concerned" (paragraph 28).

    13. No-one reading the transcripts of the conversations between the four Members and the undercover journalists can be left in any doubt that they were asked leading questions, designed to elicit apparently incriminating answers. At the time the story was published, on 25 January, no money had changed hands, and no contracts had been drawn up, still less signed. Nevertheless the newspaper chose to cut short its investigation and publish a story based on words, not decisive acts by any of the four Members. It follows that the headline used by the newspaper in publishing the allegations ("Revealed: Labour lords change laws for cash"), in implying improper acts by the four Members, was wilfully misleading.

    14. Despite these concerns, we conclude that it would not be appropriate to disregard any of the evidence by reason only of the manner in which it was obtained. We consider that the Sub-Committee were right to reject suggestions that they should not rely on some of the evidence, on the ground that it had been obtained by agents provocateurs. In our judgment, the integrity of the proceedings themselves—either before us or before the Sub-Committee—has in no sense been compromised by the conduct of the journalists in obtaining the evidence, which in our view did not amount to incitement to or instigation of a breach of the Code. It is the strength of the evidence itself which we regard as important for the purposes of our proceedings."

7. In accordance with the precedent set in that case, I have investigated the current case on the merits of the evidence before me, and not sought to examine the conduct of the journalists concerned or the means by which they obtained material.

8. The 2009 report also found that an agreement to engage in paid advocacy would be a breach of the Code of Conduct;[4] although it did not resolve how formal such an agreement must be, it found two members to have breached the Code even though no money changed hands and no contract was drawn up, still less signed. The 2010 Code of Conduct makes clear that members must never "accept or agree to accept" any financial inducement, payment or other reward in return for exercising parliamentary influence, or providing parliamentary advice or services.[5] It is therefore clear from the Code and from the precedent set by the 2009 report that a member may be in breach of the Code by agreeing to provide parliamentary services etc., even though no money changes hands.

9. The 2009 report went on to examine the meaning of the requirement in the Code that members "should act always on their personal honour". The committee's main conclusion is replicated in paragraph 7 of the current Guide to the Code of Conduct.[6] The key finding, so far as the current case is concerned, was: "It follows, in our view, that any Member who demonstrated a clear willingness to breach the rules contained in the Code (for instance, by attempting to negotiate an agreement to promote an amendment in return for a fee) would have failed to act upon his or her personal honour, and would have thereby breached paragraph 4(b) [now 8(b)] of the Code."[7] Thus a member may be found to have breached the Code by attempting to negotiate an agreement which would involve the member breaching the Code of Conduct.

10. The latest edition of the Guide to the Code of Conduct provides that "the civil standard of proof is adopted at all stages of the enforcement process… Thus, in order to find against a Member, the Commissioner will require at least that the allegation is proved on the balance of probabilities."[8] The 2009 report elaborated on how the Committee for Privileges and the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests applied the standard of proof: "while taking the civil standard of proof, the balance of probabilities, as the appropriate standard, we have, in the light of the seriousness of the allegations, taken the view that particularly strong evidence should be required before we may be satisfied that the allegations are proved."[9] Given the similarity of many aspects of the 2009 allegations to the current cases, I have followed this precedent on the evidence required to satisfy the standard of proof.

Other matters general to the four cases

11. In addition to the precedents arising from the 2009 report, there are a number of other factors which are common to the four cases I have investigated which arose from The Sunday Times allegations. First, as well as there being no contract signed and no money changing hands, there was no parliamentary action taken by the members as a result of their conversations with the journalists. Much of the discussion about providing parliamentary services was in general terms; unlike in 2009, there was no specific amendment or question that the journalists wanted tabled.

12. Secondly, no indication was given by the journalists in their initial emails making contact with the members of their intention to ask the members to provide parliamentary services. Rather, the initial contact focused largely on the solar energy product—a product which, given its public policy benefits, was bound to attract interest.

13. Thirdly, the stories in The Sunday Times were published following only one meeting with each of the peers. There were no follow-up meetings or conversations (though in some of the cases emails were exchanged), and the offers were withdrawn by the journalists soon after each meeting.

14. Finally, the articles published in The Sunday Times were, understandably, selective in the material they used. Only the more incriminating quotes were published; and members' caveats and refusals to go along with certain propositions were omitted. Much of what was published was said in response to leading questions from the journalists.

15. The points above are set out to provide context. They do not, of themselves, provide a defence for any allegations that members were prepared to breach the Code. As per the approach to the 2009 cases, my approach has been to assess what the members actually said to the journalists at the meetings and in surrounding communications, and not simply to assess them against the allegations made by The Sunday Times.

16. Separately, I should also mention that I first requested the transcripts of the undercover journalists' conversations with the peers from the acting editor of The Sunday Times on 7 June 2013, but did not receive them until 23 July 2013. Although the delay in providing the transcripts in these cases was shorter than the nearly four-month delay in two previous cases,[10] given the significant public interest in the cases it is regrettable that it still took 6½ weeks for the material to be provided.

Recent High Court judgment

17. Lord Cunningham drew my attention to a recent High Court judgment in which a case for libel and malicious falsehood against two Sunday Times journalists was upheld.[11] The two journalists in that case were also involved in the present case; in that case they also adopted a false identity and covertly recorded conversations. In his second submission (appendix G) Lord Cunningham set out how he thought that case had clear parallels with his case. In particular, he stated that in both cases the journalists had set up a meeting with the intention of doing the other party harm and had published excerpts of the transcript of the meeting selectively, with a view to maximising criticism.

18. I am grateful for Lord Cunningham drawing my attention to the judgment and agree that it does not present the journalists in a favourable light. However, I find the judgment of limited use in considering the allegations before me. It relates to a completely different set of facts, and was an action for libel and malicious falsehood. My task is to consider whether Lord Cunningham has breached the House of Lords Code of Conduct based on the evidence before me. As previously mentioned, the conduct of the journalists in obtaining that evidence—still less their conduct in another case—is not a matter which should preclude me from examining the evidence. The approach I have taken follows that taken in the 2009 cases.Key facts

19. The allegations of misconduct by Lord Cunningham concerned arose solely from the newspaper stories. The background to the coverage in The Sunday Times appears to be uncontested: namely that journalists employed by The Sunday Times posed as "strategic consultants" and approached Lord Cunningham (and other peers). The journalists purported to work for a company called Coulton & Goldie Global (hereafter C&G), which was acting on behalf of a (fictitious) South Korean technology company.

20. The C&G personnel, who called themselves James Lloyd and Robyn Fox, established contact with Lord Cunningham by email on 16 May 2013, in which they introduced the product and said that Lord Cunningham's "business and political acumen could be a great asset to us". Lord Cunningham subsequently telephoned them and a meeting was arranged for 21 May 2013. That meeting took place and was covertly recorded by the journalists. The subsequent articles in The Sunday Times were based on the recording of the meeting on 21 May 2013.

21. The C&G representatives claimed that the South Korean company they represented had developed innovative solar energy technology. Specifically, the company had developed solar PV technology which could be fitted to windows and generate solar power. The window panes would be more efficient at generating energy and more transparent than any competitor; they would therefore help the Government achieve their renewable energy and zero-carbon homes targets. The technology would be funded by a South Korean investor. C&G were seeking to assist their client in breaking into the UK market. They said that in advance of the product launch they needed to start creating a "kind of strategy for engaging with MPs and peers and politicians in general from a kind of grassroots level."[12] They said they were looking for:

    "somebody inside the political system who has the right kind of—understands the way the system works, understands the different mechanisms like the all-party groups for example or things like select committees and can help us, guide us through that and maybe potentially—and basically just become an advisor and kind of an advocate I suppose".[13]

22. Three sets of allegations were made in The Sunday Times and emerge from the transcript. First, that Lord Cunningham was prepared to host functions in the House of Lords on behalf of a paying client, in breach of the rules. Secondly, that he was willing to help establish an all-party group at the behest of the client. Thirdly, that he was prepared to act as a paid advocate in the House and to provide parliamentary advice and services in return for payment or other reward. In addition to those three allegations, which were published, Lord Cunningham made comments in his discussion with the undercover journalists that raised concerns as to the integrity of a previous investigation by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests (as it then was) into Lord Cunningham. Allegations on that matter were not published, but I thought it necessary to seek clarification at my interview with Lord Cunningham. I will deal with each of these four matters in turn.

Hosting Refreshment Department functions

23. Paragraph 10(c) of the Code of Conduct states that members shall "act in accordance with any rules agreed by the House in respect of … the facilities of the House." That is supplemented by paragraph 101 of the Guide to the Code of Conduct, which provides that the rules governing the use of House facilities are set out in two House Committee reports.[14]

24. Separate rules apply to the use of refreshment outlets (such as the restaurants and bars in the House) and to the hosting of Refreshment Department functions (such as hosting a large lunch or dinner, or a reception). As regards the former, it is acceptable for a member to use a refreshment outlet in connection with their outside interests, including their commercial interests.[15] As regards the latter, the rules provide that functions are not to be used for the purpose of direct or indirect financial or material gain by a sponsoring member, political party, or any other person or organisation. The rules further state, "Members may not sponsor promotional functions for companies in which they have a direct pecuniary interest." The explanatory notes to the rules on the use of Refreshment Department functions state, "members should not receive payment or any other kind of benefit, such as an offer of employment based on the ability to provide access to House of Lords facilities, in return for hosting a function."[16]

25. In respect of both sets of rules (those governing refreshment outlets and those governing functions) if a member follows the advice of the Director of Facilities he or she is deemed to have complied with the rules.

26. Towards the end of his conversation with the undercover journalists Lord Cunningham raised the possibility of them hosting a reception and presentation in Parliament, saying it "works pretty well if you plan meticulously". He was asked if that was something he could help with, to which he responded:

    "Oh yes, you'd have to get someone, mainly me if we were working together, to book the thing for you. So you can book the terrace facilities for example. You can have a lovely, I mean it's too late for this year because they'll all be fully booked up now, you've got to get in early, but you have a reception, you have somebody come along and give a brief presentation. Then you invite people, parliamentarians from both Houses across the spectrum who are interested in science and technology and energy policy and what not, and you just invite them along, and then—then your clients mingle with them and meet them and people will be making kind of sidebar appointments to meet for further chats and whatnot. Done properly and efficiently, that can work very well."[17]

27. Lord Cunningham went on to advise them when to host a reception and whom to invite.[18] The conversation then moved on to discussing hosting events outside Parliament.

28. In his first submission to me Lord Cunningham said that he was aware, from hosting a reception at the Palace of Westminster in autumn 2012, that there are specific rules governing the hosting of functions in Parliament and that while he "may have spoken generally (and perhaps too casually) about events at the House of Lords, before arranging any function I would have ensured that I had a clear understanding of the rules and was operating within them."[19]

29. During my interview with Lord Cunningham he again referred to the previous occasion when he had hosted a function in the Lords, saying he:

    "knew that one had to communicate with the authorities and do it to the rules provided and spelled out so if this matter had arisen, I would have acted in the same way. I would have approached the facilities office and considered the rules, and if they had said it was inappropriate for me as an employee of a company to host the function then I would not have done so."[20]

Lord Cunningham also mentioned the various points during the transcript of his conversation with the undercover journalists when he made clear that he would abide by the rules set down by the House.[21]

30. Lord Cunningham was unwise to raise the prospect of the client hosting a function in the Lords, and to offer preliminary advice on hosting such a function. However, the matter was discussed relatively briefly and was not touched on again during the conversation. In my interview with him Lord Cunningham demonstrated that he would abide by the relevant rules; this is supported by the various points during the transcript when he states that he would always abide by the House's rules. I am persuaded that he would not have booked any facility without ensuring that it complied with the relevant guidance.

31. I suggest that Lord Cunningham's comments, taken in isolation, could be interpreted as suggesting that he was open to hosting a Refreshment Department function on behalf of C&G, if they were working together. However, I do not find that the passage quoted above provides sufficiently strong evidence to demonstrate a "clear willingness to breach the rules"[22] such that I can be satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that he agreed to breach the Code of Conduct in respect of the rules on the hosting of Refreshment Department functions. I therefore find that Lord Cunningham did not breach the Code of Conduct in respect of his comments about Refreshment Department functions.

Allegation about creating an all-party group

32. The rules governing all-party groups (APGs) are set out in the Guide to the Rules on All-Party Groups produced by the House of Commons, the latest edition of which was published in March 2012.[23] These rules apply to members of the House of Lords.

33. APGs are informal, cross-party interest groups that have no official status within Parliament and are not accorded any powers or funding by it. APGs are essentially run by and for members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Mostly they are run by backbenchers, though ministers may also be officers or members of APGs and many groups choose to involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.

34. APGs must include at least 20 members (each of whom must be a member of the House of Commons or House of Lords), comprising: at least 10 members who are from the same political party as the Government; and at least 10 who are not from the government party, of whom at least six must be from the main opposition party. Unlike establishing a new select committee (which, in the House of Lords, would normally require the approval of the Liaison Committee then the House itself), an APG can be established by the requisite number of members agreeing to set it up, without further approval needed by a select committee or either House.

35. In the context of this investigation, I suggest that the most relevant rules are those that state that APGs are essentially run by and for members and are cross-party interest groups. The underlying assumption is that they are created by members who share a common interest and who come together to address a particular issue. The concept of creating an APG at the behest of a commercial organisation seems prima facie incompatible with the overall tenor of the rules and guidance. The possibility that an external body or company may support an APG, including by providing financial support, is recognised in the rules.

36. There is no specific reference to APGs in the Code of Conduct for Members of House of Lords and Guide to the Code of Conduct. However, I believe that the creation of an APG at the behest of a commercial organisation in return for payment or other reward is at variance with the concept of personal honour. Moreover, as only members of either House can establish an APG, I consider that an agreement to help establish an APG—for example by becoming an office-holder in the group, or approaching other members to request them to become members—is a parliamentary service and so, if done in return for payment or other incentive or reward, is a breach of the prohibition on providing parliamentary services in paragraph 8(d) of the Code.

37. An agreement by a member to help establish an APG would in my judgement also contravene the onus on members to observe the general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which are incorporated in paragraph 9 of the Code of Conduct, in particular the following principles:

    "Selflessness: Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

    Integrity: Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

    Leadership: Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example."

38. The first mention of all-party groups occurred about a third of a way through the conversation between Lord Cunningham and the undercover journalists, when the female journalist said they thought they might "be engaging with MPs through the all-party group system say and trying to create a kind of climate of opinion around this sort of technology."[24] About halfway through the conversation the female journalist raised the possibility of setting up a new APG, saying "One of the things that we're quite interested in is, for example, we'd quite like to set up an all-party group on solar energy, because we think it would be quite useful to have a specific targeted group in that area that could be effectively lobbying for changes in the rules that might harness the technology that we can offer to help meet the various renewables targets". Lord Cunningham replied, "Well I was about to say anybody can set up an all-party parliamentary group, but that's not quite true because you've got to have members from every party." The female reporter then said, "Is that the sort of thing—would you be able to help us with that, do you think, if we were to …" Lord Cunningham replied, "Well, I'll explain the history", and went on to talk about his involvement in the all-party group on shooting and conservation.[25]

39. A little later in the conversation the male reporter asked how long it took to set up an APG. Lord Cunningham replied, "Oh it's relatively straightforward, all right, James, it's not a problem for me. I have to register of course. There are rules about it. Now I can get you the booklet on it, it wouldn't be difficult."[26] He then mentioned that parliamentarians from different parties would need to be involved, to which the female reporter asked whether Lord Cunningham could identify them for C&G. Lord Cunningham replied, "I'd be able to advise you on that Robyn, but it would be for you to approach rather than me, because after all if by this time I'm engaged and we're working together and I'm employed by you, it may be regarded as just me pushing a financial interest."[27]

40. Lord Cunningham was then asked if he could become president or chairman of the proposed APG. He responded, "Yes, I wouldn't rule that out, by any means and that if you thought that was the best way forward—fine …"[28] Shortly afterwards he said he "wouldn't necessarily have to be a member of the group" but that if he had been involved in creating the APG "it would seem odd … if I then walked away from it." The male reporter pressed him, asking if he might take a more prominent role in the APG. Lord Cunningham replied, "Well I think we should leave that unanswered".[29]

41. Later in the conversation the female reporter asked whether setting up an all-party group "to use as a kind of lobbying platform for the solar technology that we got is a good way forward?" Lord Cunningham replied, "It's a sensible idea, I wouldn't—you'd probably have to provide a secretariat for instance."[30] The female reporter then asked if his work for the all-party group on shooting and conservation was "a professional service that you offered to them". Lord Cunningham said it was not remunerated, "none of this could be remunerated … I mean so that's why you'd have to check the rules, that's why I've said it's not necessarily a good idea for me to be the chair. I certainly could be a member of it … I would help to manage its programme of its activities. Yes but we would need to check the rules as to whether a paid person could actually be … I've actually got the book on my desk." [31]

42. The undercover journalists were persistent in raising the possibility of creating an APG, and involving Lord Cunningham in setting it up. In response to their questions Lord Cunningham was unwise to indicate that he could be a member of it, or otherwise assist with creating a new APG at the request of a paying client. However, it counts significantly in his favour that on a number of occasions he specifically referred to the need to stick to the rules on APGs, and responded to suggestions by the undercover journalists by saying he would check the rules. I am persuaded that he would not have created an APG at the behest of C&G unless it complied with the relevant rules. His important reservations on that point do not demonstrate a "clear willingness" to negotiate an arrangement which would involve breaching the Code—if anything they indicate a willingness to enter into an arrangement only if it complied with the rules. I therefore find that Lord Cunningham did not breach the Code in respect of his comments about the proposal to establish an APG.

Alleged provision of parliamentary advice and services, and paid advocacy

43. Under paragraph 8(d) of the Code of Conduct members "must not seek to profit from membership of the House by accepting or agreeing to accept payment or other incentive or reward in return for providing parliamentary advice or services." That is supplemented by paragraph 14, which provides, "A Member must not act as a paid advocate in any proceedings of the House; that is to say, he or she must not seek by parliamentary means to confer exclusive benefit on an outside body or person from which he or she receives payment or reward." Paragraph 24 of the Guide to the Code of Conduct gives examples of parliamentary proceedings which, if performed by a member in return for payment or other incentive or reward by an outside body, would constitute paid advocacy. The examples include speaking in a debate and asking a written or oral question. Paragraph 19 of the Guide provides examples of what is and is not parliamentary advice. The bars on providing parliamentary advice or services in return for reward and on paid advocacy are absolute: the fact that a member may declare an interest when participating in the parliamentary proceedings is immaterial.

44. The possibility of providing parliamentary advice or services, or paid advocacy, was raised at three points by the undercover journalists. First, about halfway through the conversation the female reporter said:

    "what we're looking for is somebody inside the political system who has the right kind of—understands the way the system works, understands the different mechanisms like the all-party groups for example or things like select committees and can help us, guide us through that and maybe potentially—and basically just become an advisor and kind of something of an advocate I suppose, if we can convince you of the technology."

Lord Cunningham replied:

    "Yes. None of that is a difficulty and what I've just been doing is slowly but surely spelling out to you that these are areas that I'm very familiar with and quite experienced in. After 40-odd years in Parliament if I couldn't give you a coherent and effective series of directions and advice about the way you should go and where the pressure points are then I'd have wasted the last 40 years of my life."[32]

He later said, "I would advise you on parliamentary, local government, business affairs".[33]

45. Secondly, the female reporter asked about arranging introductions. Lord Cunningham replied, "So opening doors yes I mean that's going, that's going to be one of the big things in this."[34] Later he said, "knocking on doors, introductions, and getting to see people including if necessary the ministers. That is part of the package as I understand it."[35] He also said, after an anecdote about a conversation with the Prime Minister, "there's no reason why—if we should work together—I shouldn't write to the appropriate secretary of state or to the Prime Minister and say, look, this is something I think you should look at."[36]

46. Thirdly, the female reporter asked if he could ask questions in Parliament. Lord Cunningham replied, "Yes, as long as I declare the interest yes, but, you know, we can get other people to ask questions as well … that's perfectly allowed."[37] Not surprisingly, the journalists sought to develop that point, but the conversation changed direction.

47. In his first submission to me Lord Cunningham said that he "made it plain I would only operate within the rules. I simply do not think I would have given a true impression that I would either lobby or be a paid advocate in the House of Lords on their client's behalf." He said that, in mentioning the Prime Minister he may have been "name dropping" to some extent, but said he did not give the impression that he would accept remuneration for lobbying ministers. He continued, "It is a simple reality that if I was engaged by a company that could help bring about dramatic public benefits, I would talk to people about it."[38]

48. In my interview with him Lord Cunningham repeatedly said that he would only operate within the rules. As regards providing advice to the client, he said that he had in mind the provision in the Guide which allows for members to provide advice on public policy and current affairs, and advice in general terms about how Parliament works.[39] As regards writing to a minister, he said that it would be legitimate to write about a general policy issue, but it would not be legitimate to write to promote a company or product.[40] As regards other peers asking questions in the House, he said: "if there was, for example, a meeting about solar power at which members were present, that may provoke them to ask questions. I am not suggesting for one moment that I would be walking the corridors of the House of Lords trying to persuade other members of the House of Lords to ask questions for a company that I was engaged with … [but] if people meet and say, "This is an interesting question", members may go and table a question about it."[41] He continued, "I was interested in being an adviser to a technology group. I was not there to inveigle these people … into the inner workings of the House of Lords. I did not see that as my role at all, nor would I have accepted payment for such a role."[42]

49. The comments Lord Cunningham made about providing advice on parliamentary affairs to the client were sufficiently ambiguous that I cannot deem them to demonstrate a clear willingness to breach the Code. Lord Cunningham's comments about introducing the clients to minsters, writing to ministers and other members asking questions were more concerning—even reckless. Taken in isolation, they could be seen as evidence of an attempt to negotiate an agreement which would breach the Code. However, I am conscious that at a number of points during the conversation Lord Cunningham stressed his commitment always to abide by the rules.[43] He repeated this commitment during the conversations about the possibility of providing parliamentary services. There is no evidence in either the transcript or in my interview with him that Lord Cunningham did not make those statements in good faith. Therefore, taking the conversation as a whole, I am not satisfied that there is sufficiently strong evidence to establish that he demonstrated a clear willingness to enter into an arrangement that would involve paid advocacy or providing parliamentary services in return for payment. Thus, I find that Lord Cunningham did not breach the Code in respect of the allegations about paid advocacy or the provision of parliamentary advice or services.

Previous investigation by Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests

50. During his conversation with the undercover journalists Lord Cunningham brought up a case from 2008 in which he was investigated by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests (as it then was). An MP complained that Lord Cunningham had failed to register in the Register of Lords' Interests the fact that he was a paid consultant to the City of London Corporation, and that the consultancy was a parliamentary consultancy, meaning that Lord Cunningham was required to disclose the level of remuneration. The complaint was considered by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests.

51. Lord Cunningham told the undercover journalists that he had strongly denied the accusations. He said that the then chairman of the sub-committee, Lord Woolf, had shown him a draft of the sub-committee's report, and Lord Cunningham had replied that the draft report was "nonsense".[44] The exchange continued:

    "Lord Cunningham:  I went to see the Leader of the Lords who then [whole sentences unclear] I said I am just not having it. I said if necessary I would stand in the House of Commons and read all this for the record. And the upshot was, I wrote all this out, and gave it to Cathy Ashton, who's now the …

    Female Reporter:    Oh, right.

    Lord Cunningham:  Who is the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, a much derided woman but in my experience pretty good. David [unclear] well the result was that Lord Woolf and his sub-committee were dismissed.

    Female Reporter:    Really?

    Lord Cunningham:    Yes, they were all sacked …

    Female Reporter:  Gosh, so he really came out on top of that scrap.

    Male Reporter:  What did Cathy Ashton sack them? Can she do that?

    Lord Cunningham:  The Committee of Privileges sacked them. She couldn't do it on her own. They couldn't just fire them [unclear] was  appointed in the [unclear] Derry Irvine and a woman I knew but I'd never spoke to the woman. She used to be in one of the great voluntary organisations, she's now a member of the House of Lords, nice woman. Anyway she is chair to the [unclear], Derry Irvine rang me and said, I've been appointed by the sub-committee to draft a report on all this nonsense. I said, yes ok you draft your report Derry and I'll consider it with you and if I approve it [long sentence unclear] I said you can introduce them [unclear].

    Female Reporter:    I know that's wrong isn't it.

    Lord Cunningham:  Anyway Derry produced a report which was about 10 pages long. In which he concluded that the complaint was false, it was dismissed. He said, are you content with that? I said, well you could have said that in about three pages Derry, but okay.

    Female Reporter:    [Laughs.]

    Lord Cunningham:  So all this went away. Honestly I have never ever had any question of wrongdoing against me and I wouldn't."[45]

52. The extract above appears to show that Lord Cunningham was formally shown a draft report on his conduct by the then chairman of the sub-committee, objected to it and subsequently informed the then Leader of the House of his objection. Lord Cunningham says that the sub-committee were then dismissed, new membership appointed and that one of the new members showed him a revised draft report for him to approve. On that interpretation, I took the view that these comments were potentially extremely serious, in that they could undermine the integrity of the House's investigatory process. In my opinion if a member had attempted to manipulate the House's disciplinary procedure, or had been complicit in its manipulation, that would breach the requirement for members to act always on their personal honour. I therefore sought clarification from Lord Cunningham at interview.

53. In my interview with him Lord Cunningham repeated that when the first draft report was shown to him he thought it "insulting" as there was no substance to the allegations. He continued:

    "The thing should have been dismissed, as it eventually was, out of hand. Having been shown the draft report by the Registrar of Lords' Interests, I objected to this wording. There was a refusal to change it. I then went to see the then Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Ashton of Upholland. I saw the Clerk of the Parliaments and I saw the Chairman of Committees, and told them I simply was not prepared to accept this. A new sub-committee was formed and the matter was looked at again—as I said, Lord Irvine of Lairg was handling the report—and I was totally exonerated, as I should have been in the first place. That is what that is all about. Now, I may not have used the best of language—perhaps I should not even have raised the matter at all—but I was intent on pointing out to these people that I never did anything wrong, that I did not break the rules and acted within the rules, that I acted with integrity and that I was determined to safeguard my reputation."[46]

54. I suggested to Lord Cunningham that the impression he gave to the undercover journalists was that he had a veto over the sub-committee's revised report. He replied:

    "There is no sense of me having a veto. I was in both cases informally shown the draft reports. On the first one—I am repeating myself—I objected strenuously to some of the wording. We have already touched on that. In the second case, I was shown an entirely different report, a much more, if I may say, systematic and analytical report of what had happened, and it was perfectly agreeable to me, but if I gave the impression in talking to these people that I personally had some kind of veto over the procedures of the Lords, well then that was not my intention, and I certainly do not believe I would have had a veto over it. Had the second report been critical of me, I would have had to accept it."[47]

55. I have examined what actually happened in the case that Lord Cunningham referred to. The facts appear to be as follows. A complaint was submitted in February 2008. It was initially considered by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests under the chairmanship of Lord Woolf. In keeping with practice at that time, a copy of the sub-committee's draft report was shown to Lord Cunningham in June 2008. He objected to it and said he would appeal. In July 2008 the Committee for Privileges (as it then was) set up a working group to consider setting out more detailed procedures for considering complaints. The working group reported in November 2008,[48] and its recommendations were agreed by the House.[49] One of its recommendations was to set out, for the first time, a formal process for a member to appeal an adverse finding.

56. Baroness Ashton of Upholland stood down as Leader of the House of Lords on 3 October 2008, having been appointed a European Commissioner, and went on leave of absence on 14 October 2008.

57. Rather than the Privileges Committee considering Lord Cunningham's appeal without any established procedure, it decided to refer the matter back to the sub-committee for it to consider the case afresh under the new procedure agreed by the House. In January 2009 the Privileges Committee agreed a complete change in the membership of the sub-committee. Unlike most House of Lords committees, the members of the old sub-committee were not subject to a rotation rule, with the result that by 2008 several of them were elderly. It was felt that a new sub-committee was needed to operate the new procedures. The new sub-committee, having been delayed by a major inquiry into four members of the House that was initiated in January 2009 following a story in The Sunday Times, considered Lord Cunningham's case in the first half of 2009 and dismissed the complaint. The report on the matter was published in July 2009.[50]

58. Having examined the facts, I am satisfied that Lord Cunningham's previous case was properly investigated. Lord Cunningham was not given illicit sight of an unofficial draft report; rather, he was asked to comment on an official draft shown to him in compliance with the policy at that time. There is no evidence that the change in the sub-committee's membership was in any way linked to Lord Cunningham's disagreement with its initial finding. It is regrettable that Lord Cunningham gave the impression that the sub-committee could be "sacked" because he disagreed with its finding; it is regrettable that he indicated that he could go to his party leader to get a finding overturned;[51] and it is regrettable that he gave the impression that a member of the sub-committee would give him a veto over the sub-committee's report. By expressing himself in such a way Lord Cunningham left it open for others to cast doubt on the integrity of the process and of other members of the House. Lord Cunningham accepted during my interview with him that he had not used the best of language. However, I do not find that Lord Cunningham in fact had improper influence over the process. Therefore, I do not find that he breached the Code of Conduct in respect of these comments.Findings

Comments about compliance with the rules

59. It is a breach of the requirement for members to act always on their personal honour for a member to demonstrate a clear willingness to breach the rules in the Code (for instance by attempting to negotiate an agreement that would involve breaching the Code). In my opinion a member stating that he or she always will (or has) complied with the rules and/or the Code of Conduct does not automatically exonerate that member from allegations that he or she has breached the Code. A member can make such statements in one breath, but in the rest of the conversation leave no doubt that they are willing to breach the Code. However, in assessing whether a member's comments demonstrate a clear willingness to breach the Code, appropriate weight should be given to statements demonstrating intent to comply with the Code, if such statements were made in good faith.[52]

60. In assessing the conduct of Lord Cunningham, I have considered the transcript of his conversation as a whole. At several points during the conversation Lord Cunningham made statements which indicated that he would not be willing to breach the Code. For example, the undercover journalists asked who Lord Cunningham would declare on the Register of Lords' Interests: the consultants or the South Korean client. Lord Cunningham replied, "Look, I declare everything … I always stick to the rules, whatever the rules are. One of the things I haven't really talked about is, I've been in Parliament since 1970, I've never broken the rules."[53] Later he said, "I've got no blemishes on my record of any type and I would always want to keep it that way", before repeating his statement that he always sticks to the rules.[54] I have cited elsewhere in this report statements made by Lord Cunningham during the conversation where, in relation to particular proposals put to him, he made reference to complying with the rules.

61. These statements indicate that Lord Cunningham would not have been willing to enter into an arrangement which he knew would involve breaching the Code of Conduct. Certain of my findings have therefore been influenced by these statements; in particular, they provide evidence that Lord Cunningham did not demonstrate a clear willingness to breach the Code.

Summary of findings

62. I reiterate my concern at certain statements Lord Cunningham made during his meeting with the C&G consultants. At times he used loose language and provided ammunition for critics. However, I find that he did not demonstrate a clear willingness to breach the Code in respect of the hosting of Refreshment Department functions, the establishment of an all-party group or the provision of parliamentary advice or services in return for payment, or paid advocacy. Nor do I find that his comments about a previous investigation by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests, when considered in the light of the facts about what happened, to have been a failure to act on his personal honour. Thus, on balance and mindful of the declaration by the Privileges Committee that "we have, in the light of the seriousness of the allegations, taken the view that particularly strong evidence should be required before we may be satisfied that the allegations are proven",[55] I find that Lord Cunningham of Felling did not breach the Code of Conduct.

63. Finally, I think it important to record that Lord Cunningham recognised that the reputation of the House of Lords and Parliament more widely had been damaged by this episode. He apologised for that[56] and concluded his interview with me by reiterating his profound and unreserved apology.[57]

Paul Kernaghan CBE QPM

Commissioner for Standards

Appendix A: Articles in The Sunday Times, 2 June 2013

Cash for access: Lords exposed, 'Make that £12,000 a month and I think we've got a deal'

PEERS have been caught offering to ask parliamentary questions, lobby ministers and host events on the House of Lords terrace for cash by The Sunday Times.

Three were secretly filmed by reporters revealing their willingness to flout rules banning them from using their power and influence in parliament for paying clients.

Lord Cunningham, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord Laird offered to become paid advocates for a firm pushing for new laws to benefit its business. They also said they could set up an all-party parliamentary group as a lobbying vehicle.

Laird and Mackenzie revealed how some peers were colluding to hide their conflicts of interest from public scrutiny by striking secret job-swapping deals in which they pulled strings in parliament for each other's clients.

Cunningham, who as Jack Cunningham had been Labour's Cabinet Office minister, offered to write directly to the prime minister to push the company's agenda.

The peers offering Westminster for sale can be exposed after this newspaper went undercover to investigate allegations that the Lords had become "infested" with peers acting as paid lobbyists and using parliament as a "business centre".

Cunningham, a privy counsellor who led the joint committee on Lords reform under Tony Blair, asked for a fee totalling £144,000 a year to provide a personal lobbying service.

"Are you suggesting £10,000 a month?" he asked. "Make that … £12,000 a month. I think we could do a deal on that."

He told the reporters, who were posing as representatives of a South Korean solar energy company, that he would advise them on parliamentary affairs and become their advocate at Westminster.

Cunningham said he offered "value for money" because he could introduce them to senior figures in all three parties. "Knocking on doors, introductions and getting to see people, including if necessary the ministers — this is part of the package," he said.

He would be happy to ask questions in the Lords and could "get other people to ask questions as well". He could also host receptions on the terrace for the reporters and their fake client so they could "mingle" with politicians.

The rules governing the conduct of members of the House of Lords were tightened after The Sunday Times exposed peers willing to help amend laws for private clients in 2009. Members were already banned from being paid to act as advocates, trying to influence parliament or hosting functions in the Lords. But the new code of conduct goes further by banning them from "seeking to profit from membership of the House" by offering "parliamentary advice or services" of any kind even if they declared a financial interest, as all three lords said they would.

Mackenzie, Blair's former law and order adviser who was once a chief superintendent in Durham police, explained how he had devised a ruse that allowed him to host events for paying clients—including on the terrace.

"There is a rule that you shouldn't host a reception in parliament where you have a pecuniary interest," he said.

"I thought that's bloody nonsense. Nonetheless … how would you get round that?"

"I just say to a colleague who has nothing to do with it, would you host a function for me?" He added: "Of course, I do the business anyway, but that gets round it."

Mackenzie was also happy to ask questions and approach ministers in the Lords to "bend their ear".

Laird, the former prominent Ulster Unionist John Laird, told the reporters that he swapped the task of asking parliamentary questions for paying clients with other lords.

"Some of the guys for instance in the Lords … I will get to put down questions for me … and then I put down questions for them," he said.

He laid bare all the ways he and a "coterie" of friendly peers could help the reporters lobby for new laws. "Look, we can run debates, we can take part in debates … put down amendments in debates, holding debates, putting down questions, or writing to the minister," he said. Laird boasted that the Lords was a great place to do business because clients "go into a state of euphoria" and "it softens them up".

Cunningham, Laird and Mackenzie all offered to recruit the number of MPs and peers required to set up an all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on solar energy as a lobbying vehicle as part of the deal.

Mackenzie said he was "more than happy" to chair the group, which would be steered by the fake South Korean company, and agreed it would be a "powerful advocate" in parliament for its solar products.

He said his role as chairman could include writing to ministers and hosting functions. "That happens all the time," he said.

The rules governing the use of APPGs to lobby for private clients are unclear.

Lord Lester, the leading QC and a Liberal Democrat peer, said last night: "The code is clear but it is not enough. What matters more is a culture of integrity, openness, accountability and honesty. That is why the role of the independent press is so vital in exposing public malpractice."

Each of the peers emphasised that they would declare any payment from the reporters in their register and when advocating solar energy in the Lords or in writing to ministers. Cunningham told them: "I stick to the rules."

Peers are allowed to speak out on topics they believe in even if they happen to coincide with a financial interest, but cannot do so if they are being paid to push a client's agenda.

Three hours after the reporters had emailed withdrawing their offer, Cunningham wrote: "I have considered your proposal and have decided to decline it. I do not want any further contact with your organisation."

The same day he contacted his party whips' office to raise concerns that he had been targeted by an undercover operation. The whips quickly emailed peers warning that one of its members had been approached by a lobbying company "that we can find little trace of internationally" and "we are concerned that this may be linked to a prominent national newspaper".

That evening Mackenzie emailed to say he could not do what he had offered because it would be a breach of the code. Laird's assistant emailed two days later, after the whips' warning had been passed to crossbenchers, to accuse the reporters of trying to bribe a parliamentarian. Laird claimed he had known all along he was being set up and had met them only to gather evidence and "have a free lunch".

Yesterday Laird referred himself to the Lords authorities and issued a statement saying: "I have not broken any rules." He emphasised that he had "not agreed to act as a paid advocate". Mackenzie said he had not breached any parliamentary rules or lobbied on behalf of any commercial organisation in parliament.

Cunningham also said he had known he was speaking to undercover reporters during the meeting and had asked for £12,000 a month as a way of "testing their credibility". He stressed that he had not broken the rules and had not entered into any agreement in breach of the code of conduct.

Insight: Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert. Additional reporting: Cal Flyn and Katie Gibbons.

How to buy a group of MPs and peers

THREE peers were caught on film offering to help set up, in exchange for cash, an all-party parliamentary group as a vehicle for a private company to lobby for new laws.

Lord Laird, Lord Mackenzie and Lord Cunningham told undercover reporters that it would be easy for them to recruit the critical mass of MPs and peers needed to set up a group on solar energy, which could be controlled by a company in South Korea.

It comes after the MP Patrick Mercer resigned the Tory whip on Friday, having been caught allegedly setting up an all-party parliamentary group (APPG) and tabling parliamentary questions for reporters posing as lobbyists.

Mackenzie said he could "certainly" help the reporters establish a APPG on solar energy if they employed him and would be "more than happy" to chair it.

Asked if, as chairman, he could write to ministers and host receptions on the group's behalf, he replied: "Absolutely, yes. That happens all the time."

He added that "it would be useful for me to get an ally in the Commons".

Drumming up enough members would not be a problem, he said, especially if the group promised free food and drink. "You combine it with a reception that helps get people to come," he said.

Mackenzie later wrote to the fake lobbyists stating that he could not take part in the proposal to launch an APPG as that would breach the rules.

Laird warned the reporters that they would have to throw money at the group to tempt parliamentarians to join with the promise of free trips abroad. He said he was preparing to take some members of the group on Azerbaijan to Baku, its capital, the following week.

He said: "The point is, to put it crudely, there's a bit of money involved … because you've got to pay for a lot of these guys to go out there and do all sorts of stuff".

"They're not going to pay for themselves."

Laird added: "It's almost a case of some of these guys think of it as, we need an all-party group of one-legged lesbians for Europe because it gives you a better position … It gives a guy a place. Everybody else is a bloody chairman of an APPG, why can't I be a chairman of an APPG?"

He went on to say he could not chair the group but "tactics-wise" it would be "better" to find an MP to do it.

Cunningham said he could aim to have an APPG up and running by October when parliament reconvenes, if the reporters employed him.

Asked whether he would be prepared to act as an officer of the group, he said: "I think we should leave that unanswered, because that may be almost necessary if the thing's struggling to get going, but if we could get it going … with me as a member and other chairs that might be better … Because some people will just shoot at the group straight away and say it's only me earning money."

Cunningham said he might be able to chair the group, but would need to check the rules first.

A minimum of 20 MPs and peers from all three parties are needed to set up an APPG. There are no clear rules governing the use of groups as a lobbying vehicle for business because they are not formal institutions of parliament. Concerns have been raised that they are used as a back door into Westminster.

'Getting to see ministers is part of the package'

Three peers have been filmed revealing how they can pull strings for lobbyists in return for cash payments. Insight reports

THE corridors of the House of Lords were emptying for the Whitsun recess as Lord Cunningham tied up loose ends in his office and prepared to head north for an angling break in his native Cumbria.

The former Labour minister—who earned the nickname Jack "Boots" Cunningham during his stint as Tony Blair's Cabinet Office enforcer—was ready for a break from juggling his role as a seasoned public affairs adviser with life in the Lords. But when a message came in from a Swiss company offering to pay handsomely for his political services, Cunningham did not risk missing the chance by making them wait.

Within a few hours one of new Labour's biggest beasts had rushed across London to a secluded Mayfair hotel where he shared a bottle of Riesling with two unknown executives and boasted that he was the political mastermind they needed to usher them into the corridors of power.

The pair told him they wanted to hire someone inside parliament as an adviser and advocate to help them lobby for changes in the law that would benefit a solar energy client in South Korea.

"None of that is a difficulty," promised Cunningham, who was elevated to the peerage after standing down as an MP in the 2005 election. He told the executives that he offered "value for money" because he was connected "across the party spectrum" after 40 years in parliament.

"Knocking on doors, introductions and getting to see people including, if necessary, the ministers—that is part of the package," he went on.

What Cunningham did not know was that his two interlocutors were undercover reporters for The Sunday Times who were secretly filming him as he laid bare the ways in which he would pull strings in parliament for cash.

They had arranged to meet him as part of an investigation into the various avenues through which private business can pay to have a hidden hand in the workings of Westminster. This newspaper began its investigation after being tipped off by a well connected Conservative source that the Lords was "infested" with "subsidised public relations people … cashing in on their contacts".

One Liberal Democrat peer said: "Many of my colleagues struggle to avoid the temptation to make money in this way and they really don't understand what is wrong with approaching a minister or raising issues in the chamber on behalf of a client."

In 2009 The Sunday Times had exposed how some peers were willing to amend laws for cash, prompting a crackdown by the authorities.

Peers were already prohibited from paid advocacy, attempting to influence parliament or touting the Lords facilities for cash, but new rules banned them from being paid for any form of parliamentary advice or services to try to stamp out insider lobbying in the wake of the scandal.

This applies even if they declared a financial interest in the subject of the debate, as all three of the lords said they would do if they were paid by the company.

The reporters went undercover to investigate whether attempts to sweep out wrongdoing had failed and contacted 14 peers offering themselves as consultants—five Tories, seven Labour, one crossbencher and one Lib Dem.

Four Labour peers and one Tory agreed to meet them, although the Tory pulled out at the 11th hour after party whips sent out a warning of a suspected undercover investigation.

The reporters found there was no limit to how high up the political ladder Cunningham was willing to climb to push their client's technology. "There's no reason why—if we should work together—I shouldn't write to the appropriate secretary of state or to the prime minister and say, look, this is something I think you should look at," he offered.

The leading Labour peer, a member of the Privy Council of honorary advisers to the Queen, went on to boast that he had lobbied the previous two prime ministers on behalf of two clients, an engineering giant and a construction firm, although that was not necessarily a breach of the old rules .

He said he had seized the chance to promote the construction company's green technologies to David Cameron during a chance meeting at Heathrow and the prime minister had told him to "drop me a note about it". As a result he claimed Cameron had written to Chris Huhne, then energy secretary, and "told him to co-operate with us on it".

As this meeting was a chance encounter outside the Lords it was not a breach of the rules, but Cunningham used it as an example of the access he could offer. Bending the prime minister's ear was not all he could do: he would also be a client's advocate in the Lords. He could ask questions on behalf of the undercover reporters and "get other people to ask questions as well".

They could also use the House of Lords terrace to mingle with politicians and impress clients if they employed him.

"You'd have to get someone, mainly me if we were working together, to book the thing for you," he said.

"Then you invite people, parliamentarians from both houses across the spectrum … then your clients mingle with them and meet them and people will be making kind of sidebar appointments to meet for further chats … Done properly and efficiently, that can work very well."

The rules ban members from receiving "payment or any other kind of benefit, such as an offer of employment based on the ability to provide access to House of Lords facilities".

Despite Cunningham's enthusiasm for the proposed task he was not satisfied with the offer of £120,000 a year for two days' work a month.

"Are you suggesting £10,000 a month?" he asked. "Make that … £12,000 a month. I think we could do a deal on that. And then it doesn't matter. Monday to Sunday, you can contact me.

"Phone me, send me an email, you can say could I come and talk to somebody, could I invite somebody to the House of Lords for lunch, whatever. All that comes with the deal."

Cunningham emphasised that he would list the payments from the reporters' fake client in his register of interests and would declare that he had a financial interest when advocating its solar technology in the Lords or lobbying government figures. "I declare everything … I always stick exactly to the rules," he said.

His declarations could not, however, have made clear that he would have been acting as a paid advocate or parliamentary adviser, because both are banned under the rules. Peers are allowed to speak out on topics which they believe are of public concern even if they happen to coincide with a financial interest, but cannot do so if they are being paid to push a client's agenda.

The new Labour heavyweight was not alone in offering to ply the fake South Korean solar company's business in parliament. In three days late last month the reporters met three peers who were eager to help for the right fee. The others were Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, Blair's former law and order adviser, and Lord Laird, a prominent former Ulster Unionist.

At a meeting over afternoon tea at the Corinthia Hotel in London, Mackenzie told the reporters: "I'm certainly somebody that can stand up and speak about issues. That's one of the important skills, I suppose, of being a parliamentarian. I can be an advocate."

The former Durham police chief superintendent was prepared to speak on behalf of clients in the Lords. He was also ready to lobby ministers directly. "I've got access to people that you probably wouldn't have access to if you weren't in the House of Lords," he said.

"I mean, the advantage is when you're voting, for example … you've got the ministers voting at the same time, so you can bend their ear. You can't get through the civil service normally."

He said he had lobbied Lord West, then a security minister, on behalf of a security company paying him to act as a consultant. The firm was trying to sell a security system to protect the houses of parliament from "marauders".

Parliamentary records show that he asked Lord Henley, then Home Office minister, whether he knew that the company had approached Olympic bosses about using the system to protect the 2012 Games arena last July. Although he declared he had an "interest", it was not made clear that he was working for the very company selling the radar.

Yesterday Mackenzie strongly denied that he had lobbied ministers on behalf of any commercial interest and said he had not spoken to West about the security firm.

Mackenzie said he could write letters for the reporters' client and would be more likely to command a reply because of his status as a member of the Lords. "Writing to ministers is a classic example. If the average guy on the street writes to ministers, it rarely gets past the civil servants, but if I write then at least I'll get a reply. It might be the wrong reply, but at least I get a reply," he said.

Mackenzie, like Cunningham, emphasised that he would declare an interest in the topic under discussion when lobbying because "the trick of the game now is to be open about what you're doing". But his declarations could not have made clear that he would have been paid to act as an advocate or exert parliamentary influence on behalf of a client because the rules do not allow it. Mackenzie also offered the banqueting facilities of the Lords as part of the package.

He said his ability to host events in parliament—including the terrace—was "the main attraction" of being in the Lords: "I've chaired, hosted a lot of functions and it's a great venue. They've got wonderful facilities and also people will come."

He told the reporters: "You've got to look around because it's a stunning place and I do a very mean tour," offering them the silver package, the gold package or the "Jeffrey Archer package" in which "I just make it up".

Laird was also happy to mastermind a parliamentary lobbying campaign—"for a minor consideration, of course". The flamboyant crossbencher, who bills himself as a "professor of PR and public affairs", told the reporters: "All you're simply doing, really, is using the services of a public relations guy who happens to be in the Lords. It's like going to a dentist who happens to be in the Lords." debates … put down amendments in debates, putting down questions or writing to the minister."

Laird said he would not "cross the line" into what he called "the bad area" and emphasised he would declare the payment the reporters were offering. But he said there was a "soft underbelly" that he could exploit when declaring an interest in correspondence: "What you do is you say dear, whatever it is, Fred or whatever minister, I want to discuss such and such, I do have an interest in this topic. That's all you have to say."

He boasted that if he wrote to ministers on the client's behalf, he was guaranteed a reply setting out government policy in good time, because failing to respond to a peer was a "breach of parliament".

Laird said he would help the reporters to command a "coterie" of MPs and peers who would do their bidding in parliament: "The key to this is the backbenchers. You go to government and their civil servants will not allow them to do anything … outside the frame of what the civil servants want.

"You need the backbenchers, guys like myself, in both chambers, who hold the government to account … So you've got to build up a good lobby there."

Laird told the reporters the Lords was a great place to host clients because their awe at the setting "softens them up".

"I find it's easier to do—particularly with foreigners—business in the Lords, because they get carried away," he said. "They go into a state of euphoria—particularly the Americans."

Laird made his derision for many of his fellow peers plain. He told the reporters, "The trouble is in the Lords they tend to be homosexuals", and joked that his colleagues were obsessed with gay issues and foxhunting: "Homosexuals and foxes are the only thing that fill the bloody place."

He also poked fun at elderly hereditary peers, saying: "They all speak like 1950s cars—it takes a while to start them up."

The day after the meeting the reporters emailed Cunningham to withdraw their offer of employment. Three hours later he sent back a terse email saying he would not work for them and wanted no further contact with their company.

Shortly afterwards, around the time the reporters were taking tea with Mackenzie, Cunningham contacted his party whips' office to raise concerns that he had unwittingly met undercover reporters.

The whips quickly emailed peers warning that a member had been approached by a lobbying company "that we can find little trace of internationally" and "we are concerned that this may be linked to a prominent national newspaper".

Mackenzie emailed the reporters cheerfully after they parted to thank them for a "very interesting meeting" and offering some more thoughts on the discussion. But by that evening he had changed his mind. He emailed to say he had now checked the rules and realised that hosting "functions in the Lords with a view to promoting the interests of your South Korean client would be a breach of the code".

He said that these were "complex matters" and "such a financial relationship would be improper" and therefore he could not take the matter further.

Two days later the warning appeared to have trickled through to Laird. His assistant, Kevin Cahill, who had accompanied him to the lunch earlier that week, emailed the reporters' fake company to accuse them of attempting to bribe parliamentarians. He said he and Laird knew he was being set up all along and had met the reporters to "obtain formal evidence of what you were up to — and to have a free lunch".

Yesterday Laird said he had referred himself to the "appropriate authorities" and emphasised: "I did not agree to act as a paid advocate in any proceedings of the House, nor did I accept any payment or other incentive or reward in return for providing parliamentary advice or services. I have not broken any rules."

In a statement Mackenzie said: "I totally refute that I have breached any of the parliamentary rules or lobbied on behalf of any commercial organisation in parliament or abused my position in any way."

"Within six hours of the meeting I sent an email to the so-called representative of the South Korean company pointing out that such a financial relationship with them would be improper and that I would not be taking the matter further. At this point I still thought they were genuine."

Cunningham, too, claimed he had grown wary of the reporters during the meeting and said his request at the end of the meeting for £12,000 a month—£2,000 more than their initial offer—was to "test this suspicion".

He emphasised: "I deny any agreement to operate in breach of the House of Lords code of conduct and in fact recall that I made it clear that I would only operate within the rules."

He also denied lobbying two prime ministers.

Appendix B: Letter from Lord Cunningham of Felling to the Commissioner, 1 June 2013

I understand that the Sunday Times is to publish an article involving me.

The matter in question is described in the attached letter which I wrote to Jan Royall on 24 May. I copied that letter to the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Registrar of Members Interests. I also attach [see appendix F] a copy of my e-mail of 22 May rejecting the proposed advisory role. I am now referring the matter to you.

I have also sent this information to you by e-mail.

Letter from Lord Cunningham of Felling to Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Leader of the Opposition, 23 May 2013

I reported to your office yesterday that I believe I have been the subject of a media entrapment concerning the offer of a consultancy role. The work allegedly involved a newly developed solar glass system produced in Korea, supposedly aimed at the UK and European markets.

On Tuesday afternoon on the 21st May I was invited to meet two people who introduced themselves as employees of a public affairs company named Coulton & Goldie Global with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland and partners elsewhere in the world.

They produced business cards and documents describing the Company. I left copies of these documents with the Chief Whip with whom I had a discussion yesterday morning.

During a long discussion with the people who called themselves Robyn Fox and James Lloyd, I became increasingly suspicious of their behaviour. They may well have video recorded the meeting which took place in the St James Hotel, Park Place in London.

They offered me a surprisingly large remuneration and when I later asked them to increase it they immediately agreed. This gave me further grounds to doubt their credibility. I made it clear that if I was to join them I would only work within the rules laid down by the House. No final agreement was reached and nothing was signed.

Later the same day, I decided some due diligence was necessary on Coulton & Goldie GLOBAL. The website gave no information of substance on the Company or the individuals named in their literature. There was a superficial twitter thread of little meaning and which appeared bogus. When I tried to locate the headquarters office in Zurich I found the address did not exist. A Google search of the names of the alleged principals of the Company and of the two people I had also met proved negative.

I concluded that the whole thing was a fraud, the people I had met were bogus and their proposals were a deceitful attempt to use false representations to injure me, other Parliamentarians and the reputation of Parliament itself.

I immediately resolved to report the matter to you and the House of Lords authorities. I did so on the morning of 22 May, when I met our Chief Whip, the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Registrar of Members Interests. Everyone I met was given copies of the documents used by the people I met which they had prepared to support their deception.

I sent Ms Fox and Mr Lloyd an e-mail rejecting their offer. A copy of it is enclosed [see appendix F].

I apologise for any embarrassment these events may cause to the House of Lords and the Labour Party. I have written in similar terms to David Beamish and Brendan Keith.

Appendix C: Letter from the Commissioner to Lord Cunningham of Felling, 7 June 2013

I am writing in response to your letter of 1 June 2013 referring to me allegations made in The Sunday Times on 2 June 2013. In accordance with paragraph 103 of the Guide to the Code of Conduct, I have obtained the agreement of the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct to start an investigation on the basis of your self-referral.

It appears on the basis of the articles in The Sunday Times that you may have breached the following provisions of the 2010 Code of Conduct—

    7. In the conduct of their parliamentary duties, Members of the House shall base their actions on consideration of the public interest, and shall resolve any conflict between their personal interest and the public interest at once, and in favour of the public interest.

    8. Members of the House:

(a)  must comply with the Code of Conduct;

(b)  should always act on their personal honour;

(c)  must never accept or agree to accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence;

(d)  must not seek to profit from membership of the House by accepting or agreeing to accept payment or other incentive.

    10. In order to assist in openness and accountability Members shall: …

(c) act in accordance with any rules agreed by the House in respect of financial support for Members or the facilities of the House.

    14. A Member must not act as a paid advocate in any proceeding of the House; that is to say, he or she must not seek by parliamentary means to confer exclusive benefit on an outside body or person from which he or she receives payment or reward.

The above provisions are expanded on and supplemented by the Guide to the Code of Conduct, in particular paragraphs 6 to 30 and, in respect of the use of facilities and services, paragraph 101.

I also draw your attention to the seven general principles of conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life and incorporated in paragraph 9 of the Code of Conduct.

I invite you to respond in writing with a full and accurate account of the matters in question. A response by 28 June 2013 would greatly assist me in investigating this matter in a timely fashion.

I attach for ease of reference a copy of the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords and Guide to the Code of Conduct (second edition: November 2011), and copies of two House Committee reports on the use of House facilities and services.

Paragraph 121 of the Guide to the Code of Conduct requires correspondence and evidence relating to an investigation to remain confidential unless and until published by the Committee for Privileges and Conduct.

Appendix D: Response by Lord Cunningham of Felling to the Commissioner, 4 July 2013

Introduction

As you will know, I referred myself to you, the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, on learning of the intended publication of the Sunday Times articles of 2nd June 2013 entitled "Cash for access: Lords exposed", "Getting to see ministers is part of the package" and "Job swap "coterie" to beat rules" (which I will collectively describe as "the Sunday Times Stories").

This document is provided following your letter of 7 June 2013. In that letter you request a full and accurate account of the matters in question (the Sunday Times Stories) in order to assist with your investigation.

It should be noted, that at the time of writing, I have not had sight of either a transcript or a full audio or video recording of the meeting that was secretly recorded by the Sunday Times journalists. I have requested this information from the Sunday Times, as I understand have you, but have received no response. In the absence of the transcript, this statement is based upon my recollection of a meeting that took place on Tuesday 21 May 2013, together with the account published by the Sunday Times. Inevitably, without the transcript, your investigation cannot assess the full extent of what was said between me and the journalists, nor whether the quotes attributed to me are accurate, nor the context in which comments were made. Below is my account based upon my current recollection but I must reserve the right to make a further written statement upon receipt of the transcript. I understand from your letter of 19 June that you are willing to afford me such an opportunity and that you understand the difficulty the absence of the transcript causes me in these circumstances.

I do not intend to use your investigation as a means of criticising the journalism by which the Sunday Times Stories were published save as to what I say in this paragraph, given its relevance to your investigation. It is my submission that the Sunday Times Stories are a misleading and sensationalist account of the conversation of 21 May and are not a safe basis to draw conclusions upon my conduct. The journalists created the circumstances to induce clumsy answers to leading questions. They then painted as negative a picture as possible in their articles so as to achieve their objective of criticising the conduct of Members of the House of Lords under eye catching headlines and thereby selling more newspapers. The technique of entrapment used by the journalists, as I understand it (and you will know better than me), is forbidden by prosecuting bodies such as the police for reasons that are obvious: that it would be wrong to induce someone into wrongdoing for the purposes of securing a conviction.

The Sunday Times describe me as "offering" services in breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords and the Guide to the Code of Conduct (together referred to below as the "Rules"), when in reality the comments I am criticised for are, if I recall correctly, largely taken from responses to their suggestions. Suggestions I would never have independently offered. The pretext of the journalists' investigation into me is described in the second column of the article on page 6: "They had arranged to meet him as part of an investigation into the various avenues through which private business can pay to have a hidden hand in the workings of Westminster". In that regard, their investigation revealed that there could be no "hidden hand" of private business—I was clear that my interest would have to be declared. I say something of my prior conduct below but maintain that the journalists had no proper basis for justifying their use of this technique whether by reference to my past conduct, compliance with standards of journalism or the PCC Editors' Code of Conduct. With regard to the Sunday Times, I entirely reserve my rights, notwithstanding my initiation of this investigation by referring this matter to you on 1 June.

It follows from the above paragraph, and the fact that this investigation is concerned entirely with a newspaper "sting" arising from one meeting, that it should be noted that the allegations published do not relate to my undertaking work or accepting money in breach of the Rules, but to what I said on this one contrived occasion. As the below account demonstrates, after the meeting, rather than seeking to secure the consultancy described, I took pro-active steps to ensure that it was clear that I would have nothing to do with the proposal and reported my suspicions about it.

Furthermore, it is critical to understand that during the meeting I was initially willing to engage with the journalists (although I did not know them to be journalists at the time) as I was enthusiastic about the product they described and the public benefit that could arise from its success. As mentioned further below, I have a strong professional interest in energy policy and related scientific and technological developments. As a result, and because I had not met either of these individuals before, I was keen to make a good impression at the outset, as most people would be in such circumstances.

As the meeting developed I gradually became increasingly suspicious of those I was speaking to and was uncomfortable with what was being suggested. However, despite my suspicions, I could never be 100% certain and thus I did not have the confidence to confront the undercover journalists at the meeting or simply terminate the meeting in a way that would be considered offensive. In hindsight I wish I had. Whilst the conversation continued, and I continued to participate in it, I was distracted by my attempts to evaluate the people to whom I was speaking. I tried to say things to elicit a response to either confirm or dispel my suspicions. Again, in hindsight, this was a mistake. It is for these reasons that the quotes attributed to me when pushed and influenced by deceptive journalists, and then published by way of criticism in the Sunday Times, should not necessarily be taken at face value or be judged as indicative of steps I would actually take. That I became suspicious, and acted upon my suspicions promptly, is a matter of irrefutable evidence. I now realise I should have been far more guarded in my responses to the undercover journalists' questions. However, despite what has been reported, I recall emphasising the importance of my integrity and that I left the meeting thinking that those I had met would understand my determination to adhere to the Rules. Even if they did have this impression, they clearly had enough to manufacture a story.

Before setting out my account below, it only remains for me to add that in more than forty years in Parliament I have striven to behave correctly and uphold my good reputation and that of Parliament. The fact that I have been deceived and that this deception has caused such enormous harm to my reputation is of course a matter for great personal regret. This episode has also resulted in enormous distress and anxiety to friends, colleagues and, most of all, my family. I wish to make it clear that I have always considered it a great privilege and personal honour to be a Member of Parliament. I recognise that this episode has damaged the reputation of Parliament and in particular the House of Lords and for that I apologise unreservedly.

Sequence of events

On the afternoon of Tuesday 21 May 2013, I discovered three voice mail messages on the telephone in my House of Lords office in Fielden House, Little College Street, Westminster. The messages were from two people calling themselves Robyn Fox and James Lloyd who purported to be executives of a public affairs company named Coulton & Goldie Global. They asked to meet me to discuss a possible consultancy role.

Because of existing diary commitments I telephoned to say I could not meet them. After attending questions in the House of Lords, I learned that a meeting planned for 4 p.m. that day had been cancelled. I called Robyn Fox again to say I could now meet them at 4 p.m. that afternoon but as the House was to be prorogued the next day I would be leaving London for my home in Northumberland on Wednesday 22 May.

A meeting was arranged at the St James Hotel in Park Place. Ms Fox and Mr Lloyd produced business cards and two documents describing Coulton & Goldie Global and a science and technology cluster in South Korea. The headquarters of Coulton & Goldie Global were said to be in Zurich in Switzerland with associates in Hong Kong, New York and London. I put the documents in my briefcase to study them later.

It is important when considering the context of the discussion that before my career in politics I was an academic scientist studying and thereafter lecturing, researching and running research programmes. I obtained a doctorate in organo-metallic fluorine chemistry and even after I left academia and entered politics I always maintained a very strong personal and professional interest in scientific and technological developments and policy issues. In terms of my professional interest, I served on the Select Committee on Science and Technology in the House of Commons during two Parliaments and after working in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and 10 Downing Street with the late James Callaghan I was appointed as an Energy Minister in his Government. I held that post for three years until 1979, at a time of major oil and gas developments in the North Sea.

In addition, my Whitehaven constituency (later renamed Copeland) contained the huge British Nuclear Fuels site at Sellafield where, at its peak, some fourteen thousand engineers, scientists, technologists and people in many other disciplines were employed. As the largest civil nuclear site in Europe and the biggest Yen earner in the British economy, British civil nuclear policy was of great importance to my constituents and me.

I entered the House of Lords in 2005 after serving for thirty-five years as a Member of Parliament for Copeland (formerly Whitehaven). I expressed an interest in serving on the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology and when a Labour vacancy became available I was appointed to the Committee. My full term in that position has just ended. I continue to be extremely enthusiastic about the public benefit of cutting-edge science, technology and engineering in helping society manage its energy and other needs.

At the very outset of the meeting I recall asking why Coulton & Goldie Global had approached me. My recollection of their answer is that they had approached me in the knowledge of my background in science and technology and energy policy. This reassured me that their proposal was something worth discussing and a subject upon which I had expertise.

With my background and experience I was naturally enthusiastic about the possible prospect of being engaged to advise a South Korean technology cluster of companies about a product which would advance the utilisation of solar energy. In normal circumstances it would be perfectly permissible for me to do so. Furthermore my position as a Non-Executive Director of Uniwarm (which is unremunerated), a small business seeking to develop new heating technologies with the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of some solar energy systems, meant that the opportunity was even more relevant. The Uniwarm technology is potentially capable of helping low income families and people facing fuel poverty by significantly saving their water heating costs. The product that the journalists described could well have been technologically linked to Uniwarm products. I recall making reference to Uniwarm in the meeting.

Although Ms Fox and Mr Lloyd were willing to discuss the 'breakthrough' new solar power product in broad terms, they did not have any detailed material or knowledge about it. I told them that if the claims for it were correct, it would be a 'game changer' in terms of widening the appeal of domestic and commercial use of solar energy. Whilst I was expressing this enthusiasm I recall thinking it strange that they had so little to say about their client and the product.

I recall telling Ms Fox and Mr Lloyd early in the discussion that in more than forty years in Parliament I had been very protective of my reputation and standing as a Parliamentarian. Generally, I wanted to impress upon them how seriously I took my responsibilities and integrity. I also told them, so as to be transparent, that only two complaints about me had ever been lodged during my long career (both of which were dismissed).

Overall the meeting lasted approximately two hours. Of course my recollection of a two hour meeting is far from complete and I do not think it helpful to attempt to set out everything that was said. Rather, I have sought to deal below with each allegation made about me in the Sunday Times. However, I would point out from the start I repeatedly made clear to the journalists that I would only work within the Rules. This is relevant to all of the allegations.

The Sunday Times Stories allege that if retained I would ask parliamentary questions on behalf of the client and also ask others to do so.

I recall that the journalists did raise the subject of asking questions in the House of Lords. My recollection is that I did not offer to ask questions or persuade other people to ask questions as they allege. I also recall making it clear that, as a matter of adherence to the Rules, if a question was asked where an interest was involved that interest would have to be declared.

I have never asked questions on behalf of an organisation I have been involved in or asked anyone else to do so. Although I cannot recall the detail of the exchange, I may have said the company could ask other people to raise policy questions if it was appropriate to do so. I very rarely ask questions in the House of Lords at all and I do not think I have ever tabled a written question.

The Sunday Times allege that if retained I would set up an All Party Group on their client's behalf.

I recall that they raised the subject of establishing an All Party Parliamentary Group on Solar Energy. I pointed out that an All Party Parliamentary Group on Energy Studies already existed and that I was a member of it. When they said their client required a Group dedicated to Solar Energy, I recall saying I could explain how it could be established and that there were rules on how such groups could operate and that I would have to check the wording of those rules. They quote me as saying that I could conceivably participate in the All Party Group but I said that it would be unusual to do so when a Member has a relevant registered interest. I do not recall saying that I would establish it on their client's behalf as they allege. Mr Lloyd asked if I would 'chair' the Group for them. I recall replying that it would not be appropriate for me to be chair if I was retained by their client.

I explained to them I had been involved in the establishment of an All Party Group with a country sport and conservation body. Mr Lloyd immediately asked how much I had been paid for that work. I told them that no payment was involved and that neither I nor the organisation would agree to breach any of the Rules. I undertook work for this organisation because of my interest in the subject and my belief in the public interest the All Party Group would serve.

The article quotes what I say in relation to financial remuneration for the consultancy. The very significant figures are used to make me appear discreditable.

Ms Fox said they had authorisation to offer the sum of ten thousand pounds per month for two days work each month. I had not asked about remuneration up to that point. I took the sum offered to be in respect of the advice I could give to their client in the context of my knowledge of science and technology and energy issues. I made no comment in response to Ms Fox's suggestion but was immediately of the view that such a sum was hugely inflated and disproportionate for just a few days' work.

After about two hours of discussion I wanted to leave but their questions persisted. To test their credibility, I said they had made me a generous offer (ten thousand pounds per month) and if they raised it to twelve thousand pounds per month we may have a deal. They immediately agreed to an increase of twenty-four thousand pounds per year. In my long experience of the private sector I would have expected a legitimate executive to say that he or she would have to consult senior directors or the Chief Executive. The fact that they did not do so gave me further grounds to doubt their credibility. The Sunday Times Stories focus on the exchanges about remuneration. Even taken at face value (which they should not be) the exchanges about remuneration do not demonstrate any wrongdoing.

The Sunday Times allege that I would use the House of Lords terrace to allow Coulton & Goldie Global's client to mingle with politicians.

I recall discussing the hosting of receptions at the Palace of Westminster. Having recently hosted such an event in Autumn 2012 (which was not connected to any company or individual with which I have an interest and for which I received no payment) I was aware that there are specific rules governing them. While I may have spoken generally (and perhaps too casually) about events at the House of Lords, before arranging any function I would have ensured that I had a clear understanding of the Rules and was operating within them. (On the occasion referred to above, I made sure I consulted the Facilities office and they sent me the rules in advance.) I envisaged an important consultancy advising their Korean clients utilising my experience in science and technology and the private sector in Britain and Europe. Exchanges about the House of Lords were subsidiary to that and were not intended by me to suggest that they would form part of the Consultancy or otherwise something I would be paid for. That is not something I have ever done.

The Sunday Times make a series of allegations broadly alleging that, in breach of the Rules, I agreed to make introductions, lobby, be a paid advocate and advise on parliamentary affairs.

I deny that they could correctly come to these conclusions based upon the totality of the meeting. The reason that I was being approached by Coulton & Goldie Global, as far as I was concerned, was because of my experience and knowledge of science and technology and energy policy. It is my recollection that I made it plain I would only operate within the Rules. I simply do not think that I would have given a true impression that I would either lobby or be a paid advocate in the House of Lords on their client's behalf. Not only am I certain that I did not use such words, I can say with certainty that I would not have agreed to do such things or otherwise breach the Rules.

I did describe to the journalists how I had a chance encounter with the Prime Minister, having bumped into him at Heathrow airport in August 2010. After I had congratulated him on becoming Prime Minister, he asked me what I was doing in London in August. I explained how I was working with a company (I had of course registered my interest in that company) that design and build "green" buildings. The Prime Minister was interested and said this was something the Government should know about. He suggested that I write to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in this regard, which the company, and then I, did some time later. Whilst telling this story to the journalists may have been name dropping" to some extent, it should not have given the impression that this is a service for which I would accept remuneration. I certainly did not intend to suggest I had 'lobbied' Prime Ministers. The Sunday Times Stories concede that this account demonstrates no breach of the Rules.

I would not have accepted any deal with Coulton & Goldie Global's client based upon my work in Parliament. The fact that I may be able to make introductions would simply be an unpaid by-product of a consultancy, registered and within the Rules, for a cluster of companies whose product could be a "game changer" in a field in which I was already a hugely enthusiastic participant. It is simply a reality that if I was engaged by a company that could help bring about dramatic public benefits, I would talk to people about it. What I recollect describing is a long way from what I would describe as being a "paid advocate".

Overall, I had already made clear throughout the meeting that my long established position was only to work within the Rules. I recall telling the journalists that if I accepted their offer I would require a contract. No agreement was reached and I did not receive, let alone sign, any document. I maintain that I would never enter into a contract or undertake work except within the Rules and within the spirit of those Rules.

When the meeting ended, I immediately resolved to look into the company Coulton & Goldie Global. Later that same day, basic due diligence showed their website to be superficial and to contain no information of substance on Coulton & Goldie Global, the individuals named in their documents or Ms Fox and Mr Lloyd. The alleged head office in Zurich was a false address. An internet search of the names of the alleged principals and Ms Fox and Mr Lloyd proved negative.

I therefore concluded for certain that the whole thing was a fraud, that the people I had met had told lies and that their proposals were a deceitful attempt to use false representations to injure me, other Parliamentarians and Parliament itself. Even though there was no threatened publication at that time, and it was a distressing prospect for me, I knew my first duty was to report these matters to the House as a matter of public interest.

I was deeply distressed at the realisation that I had been deceived. In view of my conclusions, I telephoned my wife early on the morning of 22 May and warned her to be careful with any unexpected telephone calls, e-mails or people at the door. In the event she was out all day teaching a class.

Consistent with my commitment to being open and honest, the same morning, Wednesday 22 May, I reported to Baroness Royall, Lord Bassam, the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Registrar of Members Interests, and told them what had occurred. I told everyone that I had been the target of what I suspected was a media deception and gave everyone copies of the fraudulent documents and business cards which had been printed to support the lies I had been told. As a result of my report, Lord Bassam notified all Labour Peers of the risk of deception. He also notified all other parties and the Cross Benches too.

I spent the morning of Wednesday 22 May in the House of Lords as I have already set out. Later that morning a close friend, who was aware of what had occurred, suggested coffee and a sandwich at his apartment. It was from his apartment and his computer that I sent an email to Ms Fox and Mr Lloyd rejecting their proposal and saying I did not want anything more to do with them. I did not check my email inbox before doing so or read any received emails. This is important to note as, although the Sunday Times Stories allege I only sent my email rejecting the Coulton & Goldie Global proposal after having received an email from them, I in fact saw no such email before sending mine, and indeed have never seen the email from them.

That afternoon I left London to return to Northumberland as the House had been prorogued.

On speaking to my wife on returning home that evening, I become aware that during the afternoon my wife (who checks my emails) had seen that I had an email from Ms Fox and Mr Lloyd and had immediately deleted it without opening it. Recalling our morning discussion and fearing that by opening the email, it might make our computer vulnerable to hacking, she deleted it unopened before I arrived home at about 6.45pm. I am not a computer expert but I expect that this account could be confirmed by forensic examination of my computer.

On the 23 May I made a written report to Baroness Royall, Lord Bassam, the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Registrar of Members Interests.

On Saturday 1 June I was made aware by a telephone voice message that the Sunday Times was to publish an article the next day (Sunday 2 June) and that they had sent me an email about it.

At this point the Sunday Times, who I now knew were behind the lies and deception to which I had been subjected, had known for ten days that I had recognised their premeditated dishonesty, reported their deception to all appropriate Offices of the House of Lords and rejected their alleged offer of a consultancy.

Conclusion

In your letter of 7 June you say that, on the basis of the Sunday Times Stories, I may have breached paragraphs 7, 8, 10(c) and 14 of 2010 Code of Conduct (I take it you are referring to the November 2011 edition).

Paragraph 7 provides that Members shall base their actions on consideration of the public interest, and shall resolve any conflict between their personal interest and the public interest at once in favour of the public interest. It is my submission that any personal interest in being retained to advise in relation to the solar energy product that Coulton & Goldie described would have been consistent with the public interest. I was clear that my personal interest would have to be registered and that in any contribution I would make to a related subject, which would always be driven solely by public interest considerations in any event, would be clear and transparent.

Paragraph 8 provides that I should comply with the Code, act on personal honour, not accept inducement or reward for exercising parliamentary influence or profit from membership of the House by accepting or agreeing to accept payment. Of course, I did not accept any payment or indeed agree to accept any payment. No contract was ever drafted or signed, such as would have allowed me the opportunity to make sure that they were clear, in the event it was not made sufficiently clear at the meeting, that I would not be providing parliamentary advice or otherwise operate in breach of the Rules.

The quote "make that £12,000 and you've got a deal" was said in the circumstances I have described, that I was testing the credibility of Mr Lloyd and Ms Fox. The irony is that it was their offer of such a huge sum that raised my suspicions and their agreement to my suggestion that it should be increased was my way of testing these suspicions, yet it has been used as the headline to discredit me. As I have made clear I would not have accepted such a fee and certainly no sum, however large, would have persuaded me to act outside of the Rules. In fact it is, as you well know, perfectly permissible to undertake paid consultancy work within the Rules after having registered an interest. The level of fee is immaterial even though it has been used as a sensational headline.

Paragraph 10(c) provides that in order to assist with openness and accountability, members shall act in accordance with any rules agreed by the House for financial support for Members or the facilities of the House. I do not think any of my responses could be construed as a commitment to act in any way covertly. On the contrary, my responses emphasised the need for openness and accountability. The Sunday Times Stories record that I said that I would register my interest. I would have also ensured that I did not make use of facilities before checking the specific applicable rules in advance and did not think that my reference to the House of Lords facilities was in any way significant to the terms of any consultancy.

Rule 14 states that a Member must not act as a paid advocate in any proceedings of the House; that is to say, he or she must not seek by parliamentary means to confer exclusive benefit on an outside body or person from whom he or she receives payment or reward. Neither during the meeting nor at any time before or since, have I sought to act as a paid advocate or seek by parliamentary means to confer benefit for an organisation which is paying me or proposing to pay me. The Rules make it clear that Membership of the House is not employment and it is expected and even encouraged that Members have outside interests. As I understand it, the essence of the Rules is that these interests must be declared and that they must not amount to remuneration for the purpose of exercising influence within Parliament such that it would conflict with one's public duty. I would never let such a conflict arise given my commitment to integrity and public service.

It is on the above basis that I submit that I am not in breach of the Rules. Even where what I said may have been ill-advised and too casual in response to the leading questions; I maintain that it would not be fair to find me in breach of the Rules based upon such distorted circumstances as a one-off meeting which was in fact a carefully orchestrated newspaper "sting". It is simply not a safe basis upon which to assess a Member's conduct not least because of the way in which I sought to test the legitimacy of those to whom I was speaking and because of their proposal of such a ground breaking technological development that they knew I would be attracted by. In reality where a Member is approached by a company suggesting inappropriate conduct he or she would have the opportunity to reject the proposal afterwards, perhaps by letter or email, with no criticism of his or her conduct no matter what was said at the meeting.

In fact, I did reject the Coulton & Goldie Global proposal by sending them an email the next day (without seeing their prior email) and I think my commitment to integrity and openness is demonstrated by the fact that the next morning, without the journalists revealing themselves, I reported what had happened to Baroness Royall, the Chief Whip, the Clerk of the Parliaments and Registrar of Members Interests. I hope that my long unblemished record in Parliament and public service generally will also be taken into account in your analysis. I do nevertheless repeat the apology I expressed in the introduction for the embarrassment and distress this episode has caused so many people and the institution of Parliament. I have endeavoured to cover as much in this document as I can. If I can assist you in any other way please do not hesitate to contact me.

Appendix E: Transcript of conversation between Lord Cunningham of Felling and undercover Sunday Times journalists, 21 May 2013

Female Reporter:  Ok … Oh hello … Hi how are you doing, sorry we had to rush over, good to meet you. I'm Robyn.

Lord Cunningham:  Hi, pleased to meet you.

Male Reporter:  Pleased to meet you too.

Female Reporter:  This is James, where shall we head? Did you say you were through in the Lounge?

Lord Cunningham:  Yeah I was but someone has commandered there.

Female Reporter:  Oh no, how frustrating. Shall we head into the bar then?

Male Reporter:  Isn't sometimes a restaurant area open?

Female Reporter:  Or the bar is …

Lord Cunningham:  I don't think we can have a private discussion in there, not with that lot.

Female Reporter:  No, James, we will probably be fine in there.

Male Reporter:  Yeah it looks like it's all set up.

Female Reporter:  Yeah we will be fine in there, if we head through here, it's nice and quiet.

Lord Cunningham:  [inaudible]

Female Reporter:  No, it's normally quite nice and sort of discreet though, we like it for sort of dinners, we have a dinner here later … do you want to … yeah …

Lord Cunningham:  Do you think it would be better here?

Female Reporter:  We could go here or we could go in the corner, it looks more comfy there … Hi thanks … this one over here's alright, isn't it?

Female Reporter:  Thank you so much for seeing us at such short notice, that's fantastic. I will pull one of these chairs round, I will just grab this …

Lord Cunningham:  Well it was now or never because [the House is being recessed] next week.

Female Reporter:  Yes, we hadn't quite realised that.

Lord Cunningham:  [Most people don't] realise the coalition is so determined to be in Parliament so infrequently.

Female Reporter:  They give you so many holidays. I wouldn't complain too much.

Male Reporter:  Someone said it is Whitsun? Is it Whitsun already?

Lord Cunningham:  Yes, it's Whitsun recess.

Waitress:    Can I get you any drinks?

Female Reporter:  What would you like to drink? Can we … what are we having? Are we going to be virtuous and have tea or are we going to go for something a bit stronger?

Lord Cunningham:  I'm easy, we could have some wine or whatever.

Male Reporter:  Yeah that would be quite nice.

Female Reporter:  Yes we can do that. Unless you fancy … (to the waitress) can we have a quick look then …

Waitress:    Yep, I will be right back.

Male Reporter:  Would you like a glass of red or a glass of white …

Female Reporter:  What do you prefer? If we are all having wine we could always get a bottle between the three, it probably works out about the same.

Lord Cunningham:  As long as it's not Sauvignon Blanc I will agree to that …

Female Reporter:  Yeah …

Male Reporter:  Do you not like Sauvignon Blanc?

Female Reporter:  Do you not?

Lord Cunningham:  I will tell you why I don't like it, it makes me sneeze.

Male Reporter:  You're joking?

Lord Cunningham:  It's the perfume.

Female Reporter:  Oh, does it? Well we would not want to do that to you.

Lord Cunningham:  When you spend ten years of your life, as I did, in a fuming chemistry laboratory, it doesn't do much for the nasal passages. I have quite sensitive sinuses anyway, and that's one of the few wines I can't drink because it literally does make me sneeze.

Female Reporter:  How funny.

Male Reporter:  My wife won't drink anything other than Sauvignon Blanc.

Lord Cunningham:  Yeah

Male Reporter:  I don't particularly like it, especially I hate the New Zealand ones, it's an almost chalky taste. I can't find the wine list.

Female Reporter:  Shall I … unless this is just a … ooo it has all the cocktails and things …

Male Reporter:  So that means the recess is almost upon you is it?

Lord Cunningham:  Tomorrow, it starts tomorrow.

Male Reporter:  Where do you, do you go back to home or?

Lord Cunningham:  Home is, well I have a small apartment in London which I have had since 1974, sadly I don't own it. My home is in Northumberland.

Waitress:  Would you like a glass of red or white and I can tell you exactly what we have.

Female Reporter:  We are looking for a bottle of white, I think …

Waitress:    I will bring you the wine list.

Female Reporter:  Oh thank you very much, that would be better. Thank you. Let me give you my card. [To Lord Cunningham:] Oh fantastic.

Lord Cunningham:  These are the ways you can track me down.

Female Reporter:  That is great.

Male Reporter:  Do you mostly stay in London? Or do you …

Lord Cunningham:  I am in London Monday to Thursday, sometimes Monday to Friday, sometimes Sunday to Friday, James, it just depends on what is happening. Though if you possibly can?

Lord Cunningham:  Northumberland.

Male Reporter:  Oh sorry, yes.

Lord Cunningham:  I normally go back home either Thursday night or Friday morning depending on what business is, and …

Waitress:    There you go.

Female Reporter:  Lovely thank you very much.

Waitress:    You're welcome.

Female Reporter:  [To male reporter, passing over the bill] Do you want to do the honours? You always take charge …

Lord Cunningham:  Sometimes I'm here over the weekends, like.

Waitress:    Would you like any water maybe?

Female Reporter:  Yes some water would be great.

Waitress:    Still, sparkling?

Lord Cunningham:  Still for me.

Female Reporter:  Still is great, we will all take still.

Waitress:    Still for everyone?

Female Reporter:  Yes, thank you.

Lord Cunningham:  So my life is varied, I travel quite a bit to America, Japan, Hong Kong, France.

Female Reporter:  Oh fantastic. Is that with a business interest in things or …

Lord Cunningham:  A bit of both really. Our son and his wife and two children are in New York, so every time I get the chance to go to New York …

Female Reporter:  Oh I don't blame you. Isn't it fabulous?

Lord Cunningham:  And our younger daughter, her husband and their three children are in Hong Kong so if I ever get invited to China or Japan, I stop off in Hong Kong on the way back and say hello to them.

Female Reporter:  Oh fantastic.

Lord Cunningham:  And then I go to France occasionally and Brussels for business stuff and things.

Female Reporter:  Oh wonderful. It's great having a job that lets you travel although I suppose it's always—well it's nice having family dotted around as well because you get to see the place a bit more I imagine.

Lord Cunningham:  Well for 35 years when I was in the House of Commons, of course, I was travelling a lot anyway but that was, you know, on parliamentary government business.

Female Reporter:  Yep.

Lord Cunningham:  But now when I'm travelling I'm travelling under my own steam and my own business.

Female Reporter:  Yeah, a bit more freedom.

Lord Cunningham:  Yeah, yeah a lot more.

Female Reporter:  Can you build in a bit more time to sort of see the place? Because that's what I hate when you're just sort of whizzing between business hotels and …

Lord Cunningham:  Well I spent two and a half years in—I'll give you something you haven't got that in this one … I was elected to the House of Commons at the tender age of 29, in 1970.

Female Reporter:  Oh really that is quite young for an MP isn't it? Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  It was then. [Laughs.]

Female Reporter:  Yeah, I suppose there are a few fresh faces around now that's true.

Lord Cunningham:  So I spent 35 years there. 1974 I was in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with James Callaghan. He was my great kind of mentor. He was the sorcerer, I was the apprentice.

Female Reporter:  [Laughs.]

Lord Cunningham:  And so I went all over the world with him. Africa, Europe, Middle East, United Nations. Henry Kissinger—you probably can't even remember those people.

Female Reporter:  Henry Kissinger is a sort of—he was a bit before my time as you said, although I'm aware of his work.

Lord Cunningham:  Andrei Gromyko, the legendary Soviet Union Foreign Minister.

Female Reporter:  Oh right.

Lord Cunningham:  Helmut Schmidt, all the African leaders [unclear—it was just a] astonishing apprenticeship.

Female Reporter:  Wow and this is when you were quite young.

Lord Cunningham:  This was like in my early 30s. Then just when I thought I'd had enough of it, Harold Wilson resigned and Callaghan made me his campaign manager and he won the election and of course became Prime Minister. So I then went to work in 10 Downing Street.

Female Reporter:  Brilliant.

Lord Cunningham:  And all this before I reached 36 [laughs].

Female Reporter:  Goodness me.

Male Reporter:  Were you a minister at that time in his cabinet?

Lord Cunningham:  I was eventually an energy minister, '76 through to '79.

Male Reporter:  Yes, I vaguely remembered you were an energy minister.

Lord Cunningham:  '76 to '79. Then when we lost the election he offered to make me a European Commissioner because in those days there were two UK Commissioners. The deal between the two parties, as then there are basically just two parties, was one was always Conservative, one was always Labour. So it didn't matter who was in power it was always a Labour Commissioner and a Conservative Commissioner. Margaret Thatcher asked him to nominate a Commissioner and he wanted to nominate me. I thought long and hard about it but I thought well I'd rather be a Cabinet minister in the next Labour government now if anyone had told me that will take 18 years [laughs] …

Male Reporter:  Yeah [laughs].

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Lord Cunningham:  … I think I would have made a different decision.

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  So, and then of course I was a minister in the Blair Cabinet. After 2001 I thought I've done this being kind of on the front bench in the House of Commons continuously for 30 years.

Male Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  Very little freedom. So I thought while I can still think and talk and walk in a straight line I think I'll just have a bit of time by myself and do some consultancy work and stuff like that.

Female Reporter:  Oh great.

Male Reporter:  Did you—at that point did you—was that when you went to the House of Lords?

Lord Cunningham:  No. I stayed—I resigned, really I resigned from the Cabinet to help Tony Blair with a problem which I never talk about publicly. It wasn't my problem, it wasn't his problem, it was somebody else's problem.

Female Reporter:  Oh really. What was it?

Male Reporter:  What a sort of a reshuffle?

Lord Cunningham:  Well it was … I resigned from … Tony and I, we were great friends and still are. We sat in 10 Downing Street and shared a bottle of wine, and we talked for an hour and a half about this problem and in the end I said, well look, I don't particularly want to be I will stand down and then you can make the seamless change and nobody will know what it was all about.

Male Reporter:  That's very intriguing.

Female Reporter:  Oh, right, that sounds very intriguing. What was the …

Lord Cunningham:  So I then went on the back benches for one Parliament and I went to the House of Lords in 2005. [unclear—But you got] Tony. This is also not in the public domain but people simply do know this. Tony tried to persuade me to go back into the Cabinet, twice, and the second time he wanted me to go to the House of Lords and immediately become the Leader of the House of Lords …

Female Reporter:  Oh, really?

Lord Cunningham:  … and rejoin the Cabinet, and that wasn't me. It would not have been unique because of the people that had done that before, Willy Whitelaw for example. He was a great friend of mine and we were constituency neighbours and although we were in different parties we got on remarkably well together.

But I said no thanks to that, I didn't feel as though I could walk into an organisation, as venerable as the House of Lords one day and be in charge of it the next.

Female Reporter:  Yes, I suppose there could be … It could make you a bit invidious, couldn't it?

Male Reporter:  Would it make you popular, I don't know?

Lord Cunningham:  Well probably not. I wasn't a question of not being able to do the job. After all I had plenty of government and ministerial experience. It wasn't just that it didn't seem quite practicable.

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  Anyway, having then escaped the clutches of the rigours of government, and frontbench work of 30 odd years, [I was not keen to go back to it] to be honest.

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  Half my friends think I was nuts for turning it down, but there you go.

Female Reporter:  Well I can see … it was an exciting time, wasn't it then, in the New Labour era?

Lord Cunningham:  Oh yes, let's face it, in political terms and in life generally, I've been quite a lucky guy, because to get elected to the House of Commons at 29. I wasn't even trying. Really, I was a scientist and had done very well in organometallic fluorine chemistry. I was offered a job, by a guy I had never met, in America for a salary which was in ballpark figures about 10 times what I was earning at Durham University …

Female Reporter:  Really.

Lord Cunningham:  … and I'd provisionally accepted to go. [Then this] parliamentary opportunity came along. So, as my wife said, do you realise you've taken a reckless gamble with our lives? I said, I hadn't quite thought of it that way, but I suppose it's true.

Male Reporter:  Does she regret it now? Or?

Lord Cunningham:  Well …

Male Reporter:  It must have been an interesting life? So much more than being a scientist …

Lord Cunningham:  Look, I'm a very, very lucky man, and [inaudible] when you've got two or three children growing up with an absentee Dad, in kind of a one parent family.

Male Reporter:  Yes I suppose that's the down side.

Lord Cunningham:  That's the down side. And I mean I wasn't just in London, because I was, you know, they'd see me on television in Africa.

Male Reporter:  That's where Dad is.

Female Reporter:  [Laughs]

Lord Cunningham:  Maureen was out shopping with the children, when was this … 1976 … so they would have been seven, five and three, and of course when she went out shopping, if they weren't at school, she had to take them all with her and she was walking past with baby in the pram, the other one riding on the pram and Catherine, the eldest of the three, walking, clutching onto her mother's hand and they walked past a television shop and it's the first visit Callaghan had made to Belfast as Prime Minister, and I was with him of course.

We knew that IRA were tapping phone lines and all the rest of it so I wasn't allowed to tell anybody. We were sitting in 10 Downing Street, he just said, we'll be going to Belfast tomorrow. I want you to be with me, but you can't tell anyone, and certainly not your wife because the phones would be tapped.

Female Reporter:  Oh my goodness.

Waitress:    Can I get you any wine?

Female Reporter:  Yes I think so …

Male Reporter:  Can we have the … New Zealand Riesling. Can you pour one?

Waitress:    I can. A Riesling?

Male Reporter:  Yeah.

Waitress:  No no no no. As normally I was just so used to the Sauvignon Blanc, but if you prefer Riesling …

Male Reporter:  Yeah. Okay thank you.

Lord Cunningham:  Well you see in those days you look in television shop windows, you would see about 20 televisions and they'll all be switched on and as they were walking past, Catherine said "Daddy, Daddy".

Female Reporter:  [Laughs.]

Lord Cunningham:  And Maureen said no, Daddy's in London. No Daddy, Daddy. Maureen looked and saw me in Belfast and of course almost fainted. We were surrounded by a ring of British troops wearing flak jackets and steel helmets, carrying armour like rifles.

Female Reporter:  Goodness me.

Lord Cunningham:  It's pretty scary stuff.

Male Reporter:  That was the height of the troubles.

Female Reporter:  Yeah, it must have been.

Lord Cunningham:  In those days it was in the height of the troubles of course. It was pretty awful.

Female Reporter:  Oh, wow. But you've seen … you must have seen so many administrations come and go. What do you make of the current Labour lot?

Lord Cunningham:  Well, I voted for David Miliband.

Female Reporter:  Oh did you? The right choice I'd have thought, watching from afar.

Lord Cunningham:  So that tells you all you need to know, I think.

Female Reporter:  Yeah. Do you think he'll come back?

Lord Cunningham:  No.

Female Reporter:  No, gone for good?

Lord Cunningham:  No, he's gone for good.

Female Reporter:  Such a shame, I think. I mean, I didn't know very much about Labour politics.

Lord Cunningham:  He was by far the most able, the most experienced, of the candidates and with the best [inaudible] to do it. Let's face it, to expose the flaw in our electoral system, David Miliband won among the MP's and won among the peers, he won among the constituency parties and he won among individual party members. The only way that he didn't win was on the trade unions, and they determined the outcome. Which cannot be right, in my opinion.

Female Reporter:  No, no.

Male Reporter:  Yes, it seems a shame, doesn't it really?

Lord Cunningham:  Oh, it is.

Male Reporter:  And you're, it's difficult to now read the next election really, isn't it? I think, there's so many people …

Lord Cunningham:  Impossible to say.

Male Reporter:  Labour, Liberal Democrat coalition, I think, yeah?

Lord Cunningham:  Impossible to say. I planned and managed the 1992 general election campaign for the Labour party …

Male Reporter:  Yeah. When you, you would have thought you were going to win? Yeah?

Lord Cunningham:  Well, on polling day, it was still so close, we didn't know the outcome, and neither did the Conservatives of course. You know, the polls have gone two points to them and one point us, and three points to them, two points to us. But as my great friend, Bob Worcester of Mori used to say, "Remember Jack, the poll result is plus or minus three per cent." They are not accurate to more than plus or minus three per cent.

Female Reporter:  Yeah, well, it's a big margin.

Lord Cunningham:  So it just too close to call. And John Smith and I had been designated, there was one blip a week before polling day when suddenly there were three polls and we getting the seven point, five point and the three point lead all on the same day at three different polls. A young man, who was reporting to me in the Labour party, rushed into my room and said, "Oh, Jack, you must go around the office and congratulate people." I said "What for?" I mean, I knew the polls, but didn't let him know that I knew at this point.

He said, well the polls are seven points, five points and three points. We've made a breakthrough. I said, do you mean I'm the last person you've told about this?

Female Reporter:  [Laughs.]

Lord Cunningham:  He said, "Oh, did you not realise?" I said "Yes, it's okay. I did know about it." But I said, "What do you want me to say if I rush around the room." He said, "Oh, you can congratulate them." I said, "What for? We haven't won anything."

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  These are just opinion polls. I said "There's a week to go. I tell you what I'll do, I'll go quietly through the office and open each door and say I'll shoot the first person who leaves their desk."

Female Reporter:  [Laughs.]

Lord Cunningham:  How will that do? [Laughs.]

Male Report:  Wasn't that the election after the big Neil Kinnock jamboree thing, I can't remember what it was called.

Lord Cunningham:  The Sheffield rally.

Female Reporter:  Yeah yeah was it Sheffield Town Hall?

Male Reporter:  Yeah the Sheffield rally.

Lord Cunningham:  It's on that day that these three polls came out.

Female Reporter:  Oh, was it?

Lord Cunningham:  Before the rally.

Female Reporter:  Was that partly why, do you think, he was so …

Male Reporter:  Was that the election that The Sun's front page when it said that you know that …

Lord Cunningham:  Can one the last person leaving Britain

Male Reporter:  … switch off the lights.

Lord Cunningham:  … switch off the lights. It was the first eight pages of The Sun, denigrating Neil Kinnock on the eight pages. At the press conference when it was all over I was asked about a week later, and I said, well look, there's been a joke for years in the Soviet Union and Russia … You probably know this, that Pravda means truth and Izvestia means new.

And the Russian joke is, there's no truth in Pravda and there's no news in Izvestia, and I said, you know, even Pravda and Izvestia in the Soviet Union, before it broke up, never, to my knowledge, devoted eight continuous pages to the denigration of a single person. I said they're not accountable, we are.

It was shameful. But even now I don't think it made that much of a difference. The fact is, in that election John Major got more votes than Margaret Thatcher ever got.

Male Reporter:  Is that right, I didn't know that.

Lord Cunningham:  That is right, believe me.

Male Reporter:  That's an interesting fact.

Female Reporter:  Really, I didn't know that.

Lord Cunningham:  Believe me. I am encyclopaedic about all this, as you would expect.

Male Reporter:  Yes of course.

Lord Cunningham:  But the outcome's determined in 18 marginal constituencies in and around London and the south east.

Waitress:    Riesling?

Male Reporter:  Yes.

Waitress:    Okay.

Lord Cunningham:  In other words, the outcome for the elections was determined by fewer than 100,000 electorates, in 18 marginals. If those 18 marginals had gone to us, we would have formed the Government.

You see, what happened was in our safe constituencies in Labour, the majorities piled up and we gained seats, of course, we gained about 30 or 40 seats. In the Conservative constituencies, their votes climbed up. But in these key marginals, and we knew where the key marginals were. We used to do one what was called "secret shopping" and we used to send unknown teams in to see what was happening in other campaigns and the Conservative campaign, and there we have it "out in the open" measurements of what was happening and we would have covert measurements of what was happening.

We knew that in one or two of them our campaign just wasn't good enough, it wasn't making the difference, and we knew that one or two of our candidates weren't good enough in some of the others, and of course, that makes a difference in a marginal seat. So we knew this was key to the whole outcome and we pulled all the people and resources in, but it just stuck. I mean some of the constituencies were won by a couple hundred votes, you know. But of course the next time round, as you know, with Blair, [there was the matter of hindsight].

Male Reporter:  Yes of course.

Lord Cunningham:  Anyway, good to meet you both. Cheers.

Male Reporter:  Cheers.

Female Reporter:  Yeah. Fantastic to meet you. Thank you so much for popping over. Cheers.

Lord Cunningham:  First question is, why me?

Female Reporter:  Why you? Well, what we want is somebody who can help us—well, actually, I haven't had a chance to send you the email, have I, so you don't know a huge amount about us, let me give you this is a bit of information about our company. [Hands over company fact sheet.]

Lord Cunningham:  Okay.

Female reporter:  This is a briefing on the client that we're particularly interested in your helping us with. It's—I mean, I'm assuming we can trust you to keep it confidential and everything we discuss is—

Lord Cunningham:  Everything we talk about, will remain with me and you—you have no concerns about that.

Female Reporter:  Fantastic. Well, absolutely likewise.

Lord Cunningham:  Yeah. I once had to give evidence in court for the defence but of two people who were guilty as hell. But I didn't profit through that. The QC called me because I'd made a statement about these people, because I'd been an adviser to them.

Female Reporter:  Oh right.

Lord Cunningham:  And I was interviewed by the police. I wasn't on their board or anything, I was just an advisor and their defending QC called me to give evidence. And the prosecuting QC, who must have been a bit of a numpty, said to me, this was Southwark Crown Court, he said, you do realise you're under oath Lord Cunningham? I said, as a Member of the House of Commons for 35 years, and as a member of the House of Lords for almost 10, I'm always under oath.

Female Reporter:  Yeah [laughs].

Lord Cunningham:  Because you swear the oath you see when you take your seat.

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  Yeah. So I said that and perfectly clear, about being under oath.

Female Reporter:  Oh, Good for you.

Lord Cunningham:  Jury had a little grin on their face.

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  We move on … [laughs]

Female Reporter:  Oh my goodness.

Lord Cunningham:  So …

Female Reporter:  So how are they …

Lord Cunningham:  So, don't worry. I mean, I've sworn the oath of the Privy Council as well and I never discuss confidential matters, outside the people I'm working with. Never. It's an iron rule.

Female Reporter:  Brilliant. Well, that's great because the technology in question is really exciting and leading edge but it means it's quite sensitive as well because it's still under development.

But basically, we're a strategic consultancy and we're working for a South Korean company called Haemosu Nano and they're developing—oops, excuse me …

Lord Cunningham:  My son works in your field.

Female Reporter:  Oh really? In solar energy? Who does he work for?

Lord Cunningham:  Oh, no no, in public affairs.

Female Reporter:  Oh right, okay.

Lord Cunningham:  He started life with the Red Consultancy, here in London.

Male Reporter:  Not one I know.

Female Reporter:  Oh right.

Lord Cunningham:  Then he went to Edelman in New York.

Male Reporter:  Oh yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  So now he's with MSL. Does a lot of work with Sony.

Female Reporter:  Oh wow.

Lord Cunningham:  Sorry, not Sony. Microsoft. Microsoft.

Female Reporter:  Oh, fantastic.

Male Reporter:  He sounds quite successful. Is MSL in America?

Lord Cunningham:  Yes. He's based in—he works in Manhattan. They can't afford to live in Manhattan. They live in Brooklyn.

Female Reporter:  Lucky thing. Brooklyn's supposed to be really cool actually.

Lord Cunningham:  It's not bad.

Female Reporter:  Oh great.

Lord Cunningham:  He likes it.

Female Reporter:  Yes, it's good fun. You get to meet all sorts of interesting people and—

Lord Cunningham:  I just wondered if you'd ever come across him.

Female Reporter:  No, what did you say his name was? It's—

Lord Cunningham:  Same as mine, Cunningham.

Female Reporter:  Sure, his surname, but—

Lord Cunningham:  Jonathan.

Female Reporter:  Jonathan Cunningham. I don't think I've come across a Jonathan Cunningham. But …

Male Reporter:  No, it's not really back ground either.

Lord Cunningham:  No, no. He started—his very first job was with Julia Hobsbawm and Sarah Macaulay, of course—Hobsbawm Macaulay. Do you remember them?

Female Reporter:  Oh right. Yeah, I do remember the name, yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  He worked with them briefly and then he went to Red Consultancy. Then he took over their office in New York. Then Edelman came and headhunted him.

Female Reporter:  I wish I could find an excuse to move to New York for work.

Lord Cunningham:  Anyway—

Female Reporter:  I'm working on it.

Lord Cunningham:  … I'm interrupting.

Female Reporter:  It would be wonderful. So basically, what they're developing is—I mean, we won't bore you with the very technical details, unless you were particularly interested.

Lord Cunningham:  I am a scientist.

Female Reporter:  Well—which is part of the reason why we thought you'd be a great person to have on board because you'd understand that side of things too. The technology is a form of solar panel, which is basically—it's a window. So it's a form of solar glass, which …

Male Reporter:  You don't have to have a big solar panel in your house. It just is your windows.

Female Reporter:  Basically, the exciting thing about it is there is some other—there are some other teams developing solar glass on the market. Here's a company in Oxford called Oxford Photovoltaics who are doing something quite similar. There's a team at the University of California who are working on some solar glass.

But the difference is, they're using silicon based solar cells, whereas our team use organic polymer cells. I have to say, I don't fully understand why that makes a difference but the polymer seems to harness infrared light, which is invisible to the eye, so that the transparency is much greater than you get with silicon solar glass.

Male Reporter:  So with the silicon, there are products around at the moment being developed. In fact, there's one of those—a company in Oxford doing it at the moment, whereby they are making glass that is, in fact, a solar panel. But they have to have—silicon means they have to have them, they have to have—

Female Reporter:  Sort of tinted glass, basically. I mean, actually, not dissimilar to these strange vases behind you. So they're tinted a colour, which is obviously quite—it's just sort of inhibiting to—

Lord Cunningham:  Yeah. House looks like a funeral parlour.

Female Reporter:  Exactly. It's a bit bizarre. So they have heavily tinted silicone glass. Whereas, our product is 75 per cent transparent and it's clear in colour. So actually, that's basically the same as a clean glass window, like the one behind you. Because you would think that a glass window was 100 per cent transparent but, actually, you can see that there's a window there, so it's not completely transparent. Our solar glass is the same as that, basically.

The other exciting thing—the three sort of breakthroughs. So there's the level of transparency. Now, the closest competitor is the team in California and they're at 60 per cent transparency. So we're at 75, so we're ahead of them. But there's also—there's a big trade off with transparency …

Lord Cunningham:  So they're using a different technology.

Female Reporter:  They're using different technology, yeah. They're using the silicone. Then there's always a trade off with transparency for efficiency. So to get 60 per cent transparency, they're had to reduce their efficiency—which is like their energy conversion rate of the cell—to four per cent, which is just practically—there's just almost no point.

Lord Cunningham:  Worthless.

Female Reporter:  Whereas, we're at 15 per cent …

Male Reporter:  They only at prototype. Now, they're about three years off …

Female Reporter:  Bringing it to market I think, yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  Because, you know, if anybody really does work the magic of efficient photovoltaic conversion, that is going to revolutionise things, but nobody has managed to do it. Solar panels on your roof, you probably don't live long enough to get any payback from it. I mean, it's one of the worst forms of alternative energy, in terms of efficiency, cost and payback.

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Male Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  I know this because I studied all this in the '70s when I was …

Female Reporter:  Oh really?

Lord Cunningham:  Well, I was the UK's first Minister for Energy Conservation, in the Callaghan government.

Male Reporter:  Is that right?

Female Reporter:  Oh yeah, that's brilliant.

Lord Cunningham:  We looked at all this then. We looked at things that have been looked at again. We looked at the Severn Barrage for example.

Female Reporter:  Oh really?

Lord Cunningham:  We looked at Boris Island.

Female Reporter:  Did you? [laughs]

Lord Cunningham:  Oh yeah. We just ruled that out. I mean (a) on cost but also on environmental grounds and then on air traffic controller grounds. Can you imagine? The amount, the volume, of traffic coming into Heathrow, backing up over the Netherlands' territorial waters. In the southern North Sea. It would be chaos.

Female Reporter:  That would be crazy.

Lord Cunningham:  It's just a nightmare. Boris never talks about these things.

Female Reporter:  Yeah. Actually, we attended a talk of a colleague of yours, Lord Marland, who was a …

Lord Cunningham:  Oh yes.

Female Reporter:  He was an adviser on Boris Johnson's 2008 election campaign. He was saying it was the first thing they decided to commit to because, actually, it was a completely costless promise for Boris to make. Because the decision wasn't his but it was going to be very popular. So he could say, I want to do this very popular thing but I don't have the power to do it and it was just an easy vote winner.

Lord Cunningham:  Next time you're talking to him say, you're not the first people to think about this. Because the Callaghan government in the 1970s thought about it.

Male Reporter:  I didn't realise that was on the table all those years ago.

Lord Cunningham:  Oh yes. Certainly, the Severn Barrage we looked at very, very seriously.

Female Reporter:  Oh right.

Lord Cunningham:  Walter Marshall was the chief scientist. You know, Lord Marshall? He came under Margaret Thatcher. He was director of [unclear—AERE (Atomic Energy Research Establishment)/Harwell?] and he was really a nuclear scientist, but a great guy, wonderful fellow. Dead now, sadly, he and I were great friends. But he was chief scientist in the Department of Energy and then Margaret Thatcher made him chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board.

Female Reporter:  Oh. All of that expertise and background is great. I mean, we knew that you had a scientific background, which was fantastic. But what we're looking for is …

Lord Cunningham:  What Walter—and I can tell you this, they're both dead now. Walter recommended to Margaret Thatcher, when the vacancy appeared, she should make me a chairman of British Nuclear Fuels.

Female Reporter:  Really?

Lord Cunningham:  Well, you see, I'd represented Sellafield for 35 years. You better bear in mind, I'm a big nuclear guy.

Female Reporter:  Big nuclear fan, yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  But energy policy really has been with me all my life because of nuclear power and Sellafield and strong connections with Japan and that we can go on to.

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Lord Cunningham:  But Margaret Thatcher—I see—Walter and I used to meet and we'd always meet in a Japanese restaurant, because he loved Japanese food and so do I. Both spent a lot of time in Japan. He told me he was going to do this. I said, don't do it Walter.

He said, why not? I said, what if it leaks out? She won't do it and anyway, if it leaks out people will just, you know, [unclear] … I said, it's not my idea, it's your idea and I said I don't think it's very … and he said now I'm determined I'm going to do it. So he did.

Female Reporter:  Did he?

Lord Cunningham:  Afterwards, he told me. He said, well you were right Jack. He said, well you were half right. And I said, why? What did she say? He said, well of course Walter, he would be very, very good because he knows the industry so well and he's a scientist. But he's the wrong party.

Female Reporter:  Yeah [laughs]. Well thankfully, we're non-partisan.

Lord Cunningham:  He said, she didn't appoint you because she didn't think you could do the job Jack. She didn't appoint you because you're in the Labour Party. I said, well Walter, what's new?

Female Reporter:  A big surprise, yeah [laughs]. Well we are not so partisan as Margaret Thatcher was. But that background is great.

Male Reporter:  Not a big shock really.

Lord Cunningham:  Anyway.

Male Reporter:  One of the advantages of using polymers for this is actually it reduces the cost.

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Lord Cunningham:  Oh yes.

Male Reporter:  I mean, we still don't get the global efficiency that you'd want but we're working on it.

Female Reporter:  Well, I mean the efficiency is much higher. So the polymer is at 15 per cent, which …

Lord Cunningham:  Now, what you've given me which, obviously, I don't want to read now because I want to ask you questions and you want to ask me questions. Does it give me the background of these people?

Female Reporter:  It gives you the background of the people in Korea and the investors. It doesn't go into so much detail on the technical specifications of the product because that's a slightly more sensitive …

Lord Cunningham:  I understand, that's sensitive.

Female Reporter:  Then it gives you a little bit of background about the investors that have employed us and the company Haemosu and basically where it comes from.

Lord Cunningham:  Am I … if we reach agreement on this, am I advising you? Or am I advising them? Or both?

Female Reporter:  You'd be … well, we can kind of structure it in any way that you're comfortable with. But probably what we would do, what we would propose as a kind of basic arrangement would be that you would advise … you'd be a consultant to Coulton and Goldie and then part of that work would be working with Haemosu.

Lord Cunningham:  In other words, the reason I'm asking that question is that they would need to be content about the person you've chosen, namely me.

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Male Reporter:  Yes, of course.

Lord Cunningham:  Yes. Yes. That would mean, if I was them, I'd say, who's this guy you've hired?

Female Reporter:  Yeah. Well, on that subject, Yang Jungbock … he's basically … there's a venture capital fund called Daejock Investments which is being led by young Yang Jungbock who is our employer. Well he has employed Coulton and Goldie and they've invested 20 billion won which is about— 12 million pounds in Haemosu, in these solar panels.

Lord Cunningham:  I'm sorry to ask so many questions but …

Female Reporter:  No, no, no please do.

Lord Cunningham:  It comes with the territory—scientist and politician.

Female Reporter:  Yes, no, no we'd expect it.

Lord Cunningham:  They are your clients?

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Lord Cunningham:  You have a contract with them?

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Male Reporter:  How long has that been in existence?

Female Reporter:  It's not very long. It's about … well when did we sign? About six weeks ago I think. So it's pretty new.

Male Reporter:  We're quite new to it which is why we probably don't know as much about the policy as we should do. We know a fair amount but …

Female Reporter:  We've sort of been mugging up.

Lord Cunningham:  Do you meet these people? Do they have representatives in London?

Female Reporter:  Well they are, Yang, who I was about to say is coming over to London with Jen and Mike who are our … Jennifer Coulton and Michael Goldie, who are our two founders. They're coming on 7 June and they'll be here for about 10 days and at that point they wanted to sort of hopefully meet up with anyone that we wanted to put forward as a candidate. So if you'd be content to meet them then, you could meet Yang and he will talk for Korea about the product.

Lord Cunningham:  Oh I'd be more than content, I'd be happy to meet him.

Female Reporter:  That would be great.

Lord Cunningham:  It would be not just appropriate but necessary.

Female Reporter:  Yes and sort of the idea is it's sort of chemistry check just to see that you get on with them and they get on with you and you can ask Yang any questions and any of the technical— he's really great on the technical details—any of the sort of technical stuff that we don't understand.

  He may actually be bringing the chief lab technician because basically Haemosu has been set up to retail the sort of technologies which are being developed by the Korea Institute of Energy Research which is a kind of research cluster called Daedeok Innopolis in South Korea. So there's a lab team developing this stuff.

Lord Cunningham:  I've never been to South Korea.

Female Reporter:  Well you must come … you must come and a have a look if we go ahead.

Lord Cunningham:  I've been as I was saying to China and Japan a lot. The last time I went to Japan was about 30 years ago and I have been in Beijing and Shanghai. I was an advisor for a few years to Siemens on the Maglev. Do you know Shanghai? Ever been to Shanghai?

Male Reporter:  No not really well at all.

Female Reporter:  I've never been.

Lord Cunningham:  Do you know what a Maglev is? Magnetic levitation train?

Male Reporter:  Oh those, oh yes yes yes.

Female Reporter:  Oh no, gosh …

Lord Cunningham:  Well you know this was British technology. It was developed by Professor Laithwaite at the Imperial College here in London. And between them, Michael Heseltine and Richard Marsh, those were the days when in the House of Commons if somebody won and somebody lost the friends from each side would appoint their friends from the other side to some big job.

Male Reporter:  Right ok.

Lord Cunningham:  So we lost the election so Peter Walker appointed his good Labour friend Dick Marsh to be the chairman of British Rail. Dick Marsh didn't know the first thing about the bloody railways, but that is neither here or there. But Michael Heseltine was the junior minister in what was then representing the DTI and Laithwaite and British Rail had a test to track for Maglev.

  Can you understand the Maglev thing? When you put the magnet current through the rails …

Female Reporter:  Right.

Lord Cunningham:  … and then you have magnets in the train and they repulse each other, so the train doesn't run on the rails it floats.

Female Reporter:  It sort of glides over. Okay.

Lord Cunningham:  It floats on a frictionless wall because it's on magnetic levitation means the power of the magnets makes the thing lift up. So you don't need any joints, you don't need any signals, you don't need any junctions. You control these things, yet you have a driver sitting in there but they're not really driving it, they're just there to reassure the passengers that somebody can stop it, but it's all controlled back at base with the software.

  Now we had this … British intellectual property and between them Richard Marsh, Labour, Michael Heseltine junior minister DTI pulled the plug on it.

Female Reporter:  Oh really?

Lord Cunningham:  Pulled the plug on it. Way back in the '70s.

Male Reporter:  Of course in the Far East there are various Maglev types.

Lord Cunningham:  The Japanese built another one. But then what happened here is this—forgive me, I'm diverting your attention—but the intellectual property rights were sold by Imperial to Siemens the German engineering giant.

  They developed it and they developed and they put a huge 25 kilometre test track—a real test track for real trains in north-west Germany which I have been to several times because I was advising them. They sold the first actual serviced working Maglev to the Chinese and it runs from Pudong airport right into the centre of China.

Female Reporter:  Wow.

Lord Cunningham:  You know within two minutes it was travelling at over 200 kilometres an hour.

Male Reporter:  There must be a problem with problem with it? It's like the hovercraft unclear struck me as the most fabulous 1960s invention.

Lord Cunningham:  There's no problem with the Maglev, is you can stand up, there's no grab rail, it's not rocking and rolling like the trains we use. You can hear, you can have a normal conversation just like we're having now and it's going so fast it goes up the centre of the motorway in Shanghai it's going so fast that the cars going in the same direction appear to be going in the other direction.

Female Reporter:  Really—it sounds very space age.

Lord Cunningham:  This is the test. This trial. You know it's gone up and down and up and down by now probably several million times and they've had a problem.

Male Reporter:  So why is there not the technology being adopted elsewhere?

Lord Cunningham:  It's not invented here. I tried, when I was working for Siemens with another British guy he was managing a consultancy project I was working with him. We showed Tony Blair in 10 Downing Street a little DVD and said you should have that here in the UK, in other words we should leapfrog the whole TGV technology and go for Maglev. Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling didn't want it.

Female Reporter:  Really?

Male Reporter:  Too expensive?

Lord Cunningham:  Unproven is what they said.

Female Reporter:  Really?

Lord Cunningham:  Well in many ways James it would be less expensive because it's so powerful and uses so little energy. Because you know when it's breaking it puts the electricity back into the system. You put electricity into the magnets to levitate and drive it but when you're slowing it down the electricity created in slowing it down goes back into the system. And no signals as I say, no points—almost nothing can go wrong.

Female Reporter:  It sounds too good to be true.

Lord Cunningham:  It goes over hills. You don't have to detour.

Male Reporter:  You don't have to go across them?

Lord Cunningham:  It goes up the hill and down again, not a problem. Almost noiseless and you know you can take it on, it's brilliant.

Female Reporter:  It does sound amazing.

Lord Cunningham:  It is, it is astonishing. If you ever go to Shanghai and you land at Pudong airport, don't get a cab get on the Maglev and you'll be in central Shanghai in minutes.

Female Reporter:  Oh wow, well, we'll have to check it out.

Lord Cunningham:  That's one of the tragedies is just giving up on intellectual property and technology.

Male Reporter:  Yes, I suppose so.

Female Reporter:  It's great that, you sort of understand all of those …

Lord Cunningham:  Anyway I have done all sorts, I have been in China a lot I have been in Japan. Never seen South Korea.

Female Reporter:  Yes well it will be—I've only been to Daedeok once but it's just incredibly space age there—it's really exciting and you can eat cat which I find very exciting as well. I don't know if you'd want to eat a cat but …

Lord Cunningham:  Well I did lots of frogs in China.

Female Reporter:  Oh have you.

Lord Cunningham:  More so than in France, but I'm not sure I fancy moggies so much.

Female Reporter:  Well I don't know, they sort of have pickled cats in jars. It's a bit bizarre but I'm kind of a fan of eating bizarre things.

Lord Cunningham:  Alright, so …

Female Reporter:  So, the fact that you understand all the science I think is great and you'd be able to ask the right questions and so forth. But what we're really looking for is, we've basically identified Europe as being a really important launch market and we think the UK is a great entry point for various reasons, but mostly because there's sort of various energy directives, like the Renewables Directive which is EU wide and the zero carbon homes target where all new homes will be zero carbon by 2020. And we're really lagging behind as a member state in this country in terms of trying to hit those targets.

  We think this technology could be a really big leap forward because basically it's as efficient as a standard solar installation—15 per cent is about the average, but it's just glass rather than an intrusive controversial big solar installation.

  If you imagine the sort of down the line potential applications—if you imagine a building like these big—you know like the Shard and the Cheese Grater and these big glass buildings that are springing up all over London, if every piece of glass in that building was a solar glass … It actually on a new build that only adds about—we think—about 20 per cent to the cost of those windows, which is negligible when you think about the energy that would be generated. So it's a really cost effective way of installing solar.

  On a micro-generation level that could be a game changer, I think because if you—there's no sort of—there's actually no reason why every home in the country shouldn't be fitted with solar glass. Or certainly one of the things we're looking at is …

Lord Cunningham:  I mean the solar game is very powerful, in theory. It's proved—as I say—photovoltaic conversion is more complicated in practice. I'll give you an example, about one everybody knows, but my apartment's on the eighth floor of a block in Pimlico facing south west and the sun is on the wall all day and I'm never there and sometimes when I get back in the evening it's so unbearably hot, I never ever put the radiators on even in the winter. That's just with normal glass, you know, sash windows.

Female Reporter:  Well you could be making a fortune if you had solar windows.

Lord Cunningham:  Well if you could convert that—this is the point I'm making—the home we have in north England—I wouldn't say house because it's not a house it's a converted granary.

Female Reporter:  Oh wow.

Lord Cunningham:  And it's on the Allandale, Lord Allandale's estate, and he's a real Lord—he's a viscount, I'm just a do it yourself Lord.

Female Reporter:  Oh right.

Lord Cunningham:  Of course those people when they built their farms, of course they don't build them anymore, they've closed the rest of them down and they just used contract farmers these days. But when they built them, they built the farms the way they built their churches and their mansions with stonemasons. And this dwelling we have is a granary converted. The stone walls are two feet thick, but the thing is, it is a farm.

Female Reporter:  It must be lovely and cool in the summer.

Lord Cunningham:  Well, it's cool in the summer and warm in the winter, but we have added a conservatory on the south side.

Female Reporter:  Oh, well if you had a conservatory made entirely of solar glass you'd be making megabucks.

Lord Cunningham:  It's a double-glazed conservatory, it's got under-floor heating. Even in the winter it gets so warm when the sun's shining we open the door from the conservatory into the house and the thermostat switches off the gas boiler. Now, if we could do that with solar glass you can see people's energy bills would go down very significantly.

Female Reporter:  They really would, and if you think about it …

Lord Cunningham:  And at a time when they're about to go up very significantly, it could be interesting.

Female Reporter:  Yeah, I think it really could be interesting. And if, if … The conservatories are quite interesting because if you're going to spend say six or seven grand on a solar installation, it's a bit depressing spending that much money on something which goes on your roof and you never see it and it has a very small incremental impact on your energy bills. If you could build a conservatory that would be much more appealing to people as a way of …

Lord Cunningham:  Well, our conservatory cost a bit more than six or seven grand.

Female Reporter:  It will, but it's a …

Lord Cunningham:  If this glass had been around then, we would just put it in and then it would probably be too warm to sit in. Sometimes it is even now too warm to sit in. So that's why we open the door into the rest of the house and the heat goes in, but the thermostat switches the boiler off. So even with ordinary glass you can notice the effect, but it's small, but if you had this kind of glass the effect would be measurable.

Female Reporter:  Very considerable.

Lord Cunningham:  And consistent of course.

Female Reporter:  Yeah, it would be.

Lord Cunningham:  So people would save money.

Male reporter:  Yeah, exactly.

Female Reporter:  They would. We have a number of policy objectives that we're working on, like for example one idea is to talk to government about adapting the building regulations to incorporate the technology so that say by a particular date all new builds would have to use solar glass.

Lord Cunningham:  Yes, the right idea but very difficult to do, to get the building regulations changed.

Female Reporter:  Is it.

Lord Cunningham:  I've lived through this as a councillor. My political career, started, I'd just got my first job in the University of Durham. I got my PhD in 1966.

Female Reporter:  What was your PhD in?

Lord Cunningham:  Organometallic fluorine chemistry.

Female Reporter:  Oh, my goodness, I have no idea what that is.

Lord Cunningham:  So I knew about fluorine chemistry and nuclear energy before I even got involved in it, because we studied that because … another diversion … the Manhattan Project which you won't have heard about, was set up in America because the Allies, particularly Britain and America, knew from significant intelligence that the Germans were trying to produce a nuclear weapon. The Germans were very advanced in those days, and their tanks were better than ours, their guns were better than ours, their battleships were bigger and better than ours, their knowledge of science and technology was better than ours. You've never seen the film The Heroes of Telemark, Kirk Douglas?

Female Reporter:  No, I haven't.

Male Reporter:  Weirdly I saw it a Sunday afternoon only about three or four weeks ago. They go to blow up somewhere in Norway, don't they?

Lord Cunningham:  Yep

Female Reporter:  Oh, really? Has it just come out or is that …

Lord Cunningham:  It's in Telemark in Norway and Germany occupied Norway, of course, and there was a heavy water plant. Which the Norwegians occupied, heavy water, and water is H2O; heavy water is HDO, one hydrogen, one deuterium. Deuterium was [unclear]. The Germans wanted the heavy water to help strengthen the uranium [HUS2] isotopes 235 and 238 and that's a 238 which is a fissile isotope which you make weapons with, and what have you, or radioactive fuel from nuclear entities. The Manhattan Project was set up in America to find a way of concentrating the more active, more fissile uranium isotope 238, and a whole lot of fluorine chemists, including a very young man from Durham University called Ken Musgrave, were taken over there along with the giants of the science world, you know Enrico Fermi and Edward Teller and Nizard and of course the great man himself, Einstein was involved.

  They found out that if you made uranium hexafluoride, that's uranium and six fluorine atoms, this hugely heavy metal became a gas, and as a gas the isotopes diffused at different levels and that was the secret to concentrating the fissile material and the explosive material and the stable material and making a bomb.

Female Reporter:  Oh right, goodness.

Lord Cunningham:  That guy came back, Ken Musgrave, and set up the Department of Fluorine Chemistry at Durham University and became professor of the department and that's where I studied.

Female Reporter:  Oh, I see.

Male Reporter:  Oh, I see.

Lord Cunningham:  So that's why I know all about uranium and nuclear power and weapons.

Female Reporter:  Oh, I'm sure you will be able to get your head around the whole nanotechnology thing far more than we can …

Male Reporter:  That's slightly more glamorous than building regulations isn't it.

Female Reporter:  It is a little bit, but yeah …

Lord Cunningham:  So coming back, sorry, why I said that about the building regs. Just after I got my first job a guy resigned and the professor sent for me and he said I hope you're going to apply for this vacancy and I said well, I thought on the whole, since I hadn't even got my PhD yet and I'm still writing the thesis, that I wasn't interested and I wasn't a suitable candidate, and he said to me listen, we want you to apply. I said well prof you know, I don't want to apply just to make up the numbers.

  He said—he shouldn't have said this—he said look Jack you're going to get the job, just apply. So I got the job and I hadn't even got my PhD.

Female Reporter:  Oh gosh.

Lord Cunningham:  Then just after I got the job the Labour Party, where we lived in Chester-le-Street, you know where the cricket ground is in Chester-le-Street, by Lumley Castle. We lived just near there.

Female Reporter:  Oh.

Lord Cunningham:  They said look, there's a by-election in your ward and it's a Conservative seat, but we can't let them have a free ride, we want you to be our candidate. So I said no, no, I mean, I was in the Labour party from age 16. All right then, in principle, I planned the campaign and I organised it but this is my first job. The prof will go bananas if he suddenly wakes up and finds out I'm a councillor.

Female Reporter:  That you've gone AWOL.

Lord Cunningham:  On the last day this old redundant miner Tommy Davidson, a wonderful guy, a great friend, dead now, came into the Department of Chemistry. He said look son, sign this form, we can't let them have a free ride, don't worry you won't win. Three months later I was a councillor.

Female Reporter:  Really. Oh my goodness, what did the professor say?

Lord Cunningham:  The prof, oh he went bananas.

Female Reporter:  He did.

Lord Cunningham:  At least those days it was all evening work and there was no remuneration. But we tried to get the building regulations changed then, in the late '60s.

Female Reporter:  Okay right.

Lord Cunningham:  Then in the '70s when I was Energy Conservation Minister we tried to get the building regulations changed again and we were the government, right then, the government. I was the minister. It's a bloody difficult thing to do.

Female Reporter:  It was tough even then. Really? I didn't appreciate that.

Lord Cunningham:  There were all sorts of consultation stuff, there was [unclear] local government housing association. I'm not saying it shouldn't be embarked upon. What I'm saying is it won't be quick.

Female Reporter:  It would be tough, yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  It won't be easy, but certainly it should be on the agenda. That's absolutely right.

Female Reporter:  That's great.

Lord Cunningham:  But it will have to be very careful planned and prepared before you try to do it because otherwise it will run into a swamp.

Female Reporter:  Okay. No, that's useful. Just that sort of guidance is useful to us.

Lord Cunningham:  See, this is kind of 40-odd years of local and central government.

Female Reporter:  Well, you have that experience and to us it's—we can come up with—but that's useful because I've got a list here of different objectives that we have.

Lord Cunningham:  You're right to have it on your list, don't worry, I'm not saying you shouldn't have it on your list.

Female Reporter:  But we need to be mindful of that.

Lord Cunningham:  But it will be tough.

Female Reporter:  Yeah. Well, that's one of the ideas and also there's things like, for example, could you have—could you look at planning law so that you had a presumption in favour of developments using solar glass, say, or could you have a requirement of government or local authority buildings or all school buildings use solar glass. There's various different things we could—

Lord Cunningham:  You could have, you could have that. All these things are now, kind of, you know there were iron rules, there were no concessions for anything, but you have something which said something like, houses built with inbuilt energy conservation systems, i.e. in this case windows, could be put in the lower housing tax band.

Male Reporter:  True, yeah, that's not a bad idea, especially— that is one we hadn't thought of actually.

Female Reporter:  That's a good idea, yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  You could have that because it would be an incentive for people to do it, either owner occupiers or the local authority and of course in doing it they would save themselves money on their energy bills and of course the government's got to meet—you know, the last Labour government's set these ridiculous targets of energy reduction and carbon reduction. We're never going to meet them, we're just not going to meet them. We're never going to do it. [Unclear] I just had dinner last week with the Electricity [unclear]—a lot of their head honchos were here in London. I don't work for it, incidentally; not that I wouldn't work for them but just they came to ask me advice. And of course, in terms of new nuclear build they're the last man standing—I should say the last person standing, because everybody else has pulled out. Centrica has pulled out, Hitachi has pulled out, the Germans have pulled out. If that doesn't go ahead then where are we?

Male Reporter:  Where's our electricity going to come from?

Lord Cunningham:  Exactly, exactly. So there's a lot running on all of this now. I'm not against alternative sources of energy, far from it. We're going to need every little bit we can get, or big bit. The difference between wind power and solar power, although wind power is more advanced technically, windmills are only available for 28 per cent of the town, 72 per cent of the town they're standing.

Male Reporter:  Doing nothing.

Female Reporter:  They're also quite visually and environmentally intrusive, whereas the great thing about this is you wouldn't know it was there …

Lord Cunningham:  That's right, that's right.

Female Reporter:  … it's just part of the fabric of the landscape.

Lord Cunningham:  You know, the sun is with us. Even in winter you can get some sort of solar gain.

Female Reporter:  Well, people don't realise that, yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  Yeah. So when the wind's blowing you can't get any wind power at all and of course we created windmills when the Industrial Revolution started because people recognised you can't run a modern industrial or commercial society on wind power because it doesn't work for most of the time. One of the expectations of everybody, rich or poor, is they get up in the middle of the night, they want to go to the bathroom or they get up early in the morning, they want to boil a kettle, they press that switch, they expect the lights to go on, they expect the kettle to boil, 24 hours a day seven days a week, 365 days a year.

  Now, that's a hell of an expectation to meet and you can't meet that unless you've got some big machines, coal or gas or nuclear power. Coal's out for a fact, understandably, because of the CO2 emissions. I always have a little giggle; there was a photograph in one of the papers yesterday about CO2 emissions and it showed you eight cooling towers of four or five power stations with these big clouds above them. Well of course, that's only steam, it's only water. No CO2 comes out of the cooling towers.

Female Reporter:  Yes, I have heard that said before.

Lord Cunningham:  They are two consecutive cooling towers, it's so stupid, scientifically. How can they be so stupid?

Female Reporter:  There must be so much bad science out there, it must be very frustrating.

Lord Cunningham:  It's the chimney they should be showing, that's where the CO2 comes out anyway. So if this could be made to work that would be a step change.

Female Reporter:  Yeah, I think it really would.

Lord Cunningham:  It would be a step change.

Female Reporter:  We're quite excited. I think it could genuinely be and especially on a micro-generation level I think it could be a real game changer. We're building a kind of market entry strategy for the company and what we think we need to do is to be talking to parliamentarians. What we want I think to do is to build a kind of strategy for engaging with MPs and peers and politicians in general from a kind of grassroots level. So talking to—rather than just going in and trying to get a meeting with a top civil servant or a minister ourselves we think it's better, for example, to be engaging with MPs through the all-party group system say and trying to create a kind of climate of opinion around this sort of technology.

Lord Cunningham:  I'm a member of the all-party energy group.

Female Reporter:  Are you? Is it PRASEG, the one you—is it PRASEG, the renewable energy group or is it …

Lord Cunningham:  No, it's the all-party group on energy.

Female Reporter:  Just on energy more broadly?

Lord Cunningham:  The all-party group on energy.

Female Reporter:  Okay. One of the things we'd thought about …

Lord Cunningham:  They make be one on alternative energy.

Female Reporter:  There are a couple of alternative ones, yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  We'd better going to get around to talking how soon do you want me to make my mind up, or offer a proposal. We don't have to do that on a—it's up to you. You probably want to go away and think about all this but what I say to you that I would be happy to work on this too.

Female Reporter:  Oh, great.

Lord Cunningham:  Don't start briefing or approaching parliamentarians or local government—don't forget, local government is a big player in this because they're one of the biggest housing owners in the country, as are the housing associations. Don't go to them until you've got a diamond hard presentation. Don't go to them until you can answer all the tough questions that are coming your way because if you start off and things don't work out too well, you're taking one or two steps backwards. So you've got to make sure any presentation—one of the good ones, now I realise you're not EDF who've got mega billions. One of the good ways to broach things like that and sound it out without having to go on the record, is to get a little group of people together over a lunch or a dinner and just chat to them about their reactions to things.

Female Reporter:  As in parliamentarians and people like that, do you mean?

Lord Cunningham:  Yes, but don't just—as I said, don't just focus on parliamentarians—local government.

Female Reporter:  And local government too.

Lord Cunningham:  The Association of Local Authorities is a much underrated body, but it's powerful.

Male Reporter:  Yes that's interesting.

Lord Cunningham:  Now, I'm not sure after the latest county council elections who's in control. It usually changes hands quite often and one of my great personal friends Sir Jeremy, now Lord, Beecham used to chair it but he doesn't now. I think for a number of years the Conservatives have controlled it. That doesn't mean they're bad, it just means you need to find out who, and get some discussions set up really, and similarly with the housing associations because you know.

Male reporter:  Housing associations, so all forms of social housing would be a good thing.

Female Reporter:  It would be interesting.

Lord Cunningham:  That's right, that's right.

Female Reporter:  Yeah, definitely. Where we're a bit weak is in terms of—we can build strategy but we don't—what we're looking for is somebody inside the political system who has the right kind of—understands the way the system works, understands the different mechanisms like the all-party groups for example or things like select committees and can help us, guide us through that and maybe potentially—and basically just become an advisor and kind of something of an advocate I suppose, if we can convince you of the technology.

Lord Cunningham:  Yes. None of that is a difficulty and what I've just been doing is slowly but surely spelling out to you that these are areas that I'm very familiar with and quite experienced in. After 40-odd years in Parliament if I couldn't give you a coherent and effective series of directions and advice about the way you should go and where the pressure points are then I'd have wasted the last 40 years of my life.

Female Reporter:  Well, that's exactly what we're looking for. What we would propose would be—if it suits you, would be a kind of retainer—based sort of arrangement whereby we'd be looking at maybe one or two days a month and on the basis of say, two days a month a retainer of—we'd thought—

Male reporter:  We were talking about 120 weren't we?

Female Reporter:  Well, yeah, a retainer of about £10,000 a month, would that—so it would be a retainer of about £10,000 a month. That would be for two days, obviously not two solid days. Is that not—

Lord Cunningham:  It's probably not the place to get into that level of detail but that sounds—that sounds the right ballpark.

Female Reporter:  The right ballpark, okay, great.

Lord Cunningham:  But let me say to you that two days a month thing, I can tell you if my own experience it doesn't work. It wouldn't work for you and it wouldn't work for me. I mean, I might be a [unclear] or whatever. If we can come to an agreement I would be available to you anytime you wanted.

Female Reporter:  That's great for us.

Lord Cunningham:  Well, you see, you need that flexibility, James and Robyn.

Male reporter:  Well again, it's very difficult to parcel it off in that way.

Lord Cunningham:  Let's say for the sake of argument we say two days a month with you and then some problem came up or the boss was coming from Korea and you say Jack, we really need you, would I say no?

Female Reporter:  Oh, well, that's great. We would want to compensate you for any extra time.

Lord Cunningham:  I mean, it would be counterproductive to say no, for me as well as for you because the guy would turn up and say why the hell isn't he here? So that's what I'm saying. I wouldn't—I would advise you not to be rigid about that but to be flexible about it and I will be flexible. The way I work with people now is, obviously there are times when they say can you be here on such and such a time or day and I'll say no, but I'll say here are several alternatives. I might be doing select committee work in the House of Lords or whatever it might be, you know Tuesday mornings I'll just be out because—but that's coming to an end because I've done my term on the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee now.

  The rules say you can only serve for four sessions and then you go which you, you know, John [unclear] a great friend who is becoming chair, he said to me oh, we're going to miss you, Jack, and I said well, John, come on, I'm the least well-qualified scientist on the committee because they're all Fellows of the Royal Societies, I'm just a mere PhD. He said yes, Jack, but you're the only former Cabinet minister on the committee.

Female Reporter:  Yeah. Well, there you go. Well, see, that's great for us because obviously that's huge cachet, isn't it?

Lord Cunningham:  So my advice to you would be is think about rigidity in this sort of thing, relationship, if it comes to transpire. I would be available to you as and when necessary, as and when required. Even if it was in the recess and you wanted me to be in London I can come if you can recompense me for the travel. I assume that's something you would do anyway.

Female Reporter:  Oh, of course, of course, yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  So I would—there's no point in having an adviser who's not available.

Female Reporter:  Well, that's great. That works very, very well for us. A lot of people are a bit sort of stuffy about that so that's perfect. Okay.

Lord Cunningham:  Look, I was … among many of the things I've done, I was advisor us for about a decade. This was in opposition. … I was advisor to the European board of Dow Chemicals, which was the largest chemical in the world. Right? Now, I'll give you a CV with all this on, so you can give it to …

Female Reporter:  Oh that would be great, and will that include what your other interests are at the moment?

Lord Cunningham:  Yes.

Female Reporter:  Fantastic. Great.

Lord Cunningham:  Since the recession, the work I've done has gone down, that's why I can say yes, if we reach an agreement I can say yes, because I've got the time. I was working for two companies in the construction industry: one is a non-executive director, one is an advisor. But the economic collapse and the consequent collapse of the building and construction—and they've just terminated the agreements. But with proper notice and everything.

Female Reporter:  Are you advising them on parliamentary affairs as well as business and …

Lord Cunningham:  Well I would advise you on parliamentary, local government, business affairs; because that's the field you're going to be in.

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  And of course I advise people on parliamentary affairs. I have to register all this in the register of members' interests, but I assume you're aware of that.

Female Reporter:  Yeah, we are.

Lord Cunningham:  But I've learned that over time, I mean with one of these companies I used to go to their board meetings which were once every two months, and they were largely a waste of time, and the companies board meeting and this is a construction and demolition company in the UK, the biggest demolition company in the UK, and a smaller player in construction. But they were involved in building the Olympic Park; they're just knocking down all that stuff near Victoria station at the moment. And, well the guy, it was a privately owned company but the guy who owned it was—he was a quite nice guy, I say quite nice, he wasn't overly nice. Well he kept getting these mad flights of fancy: why aren't we in the Niger Delta, the Niger Delta, why aren't we in the Gulf? Well I like the Gulf because I'd worked as a consultant to people in the Gulf—oh well I'm not doing that now, and then why don't we go to the new emerging economies in the European Union. I started looking at [unclear]. We … it wasn't … and I said … just on the European Union, I said we could easily be in the twelfth largest economy in the European Union and they said, what's that, and I said it's called the north-west of England. The north-west of England is the twelfth largest economy in the European Union.

Female Reporter:  Is that right? I didn't realise. Gosh, well there you go.

Lord Cunningham:  Yes, in the European Union. Yes and most of the new emerging I said—all you've got to do is open an office … they said where else … open an office in Newcastle because you know, I said no, Newcastle isn't in the north west of England. They said, well we've got an office in Sheffield. I said, but what a waste of time, Sheffield's a dead end and what's more it's one of the smaller cities in the country nothing important happens in Sheffield outside the universities. I said Manchester or if not Manchester then the next biggest growth centre in the north of England is, which is actually not the north west of England but it's Leeds. I would never say open an office in Newcastle after all I live just 30 miles out of Newcastle. You don't need an office in Newcastle. I know everybody who is important in Tyneside, you don't need an office there, you have me. But you certainly need an office in the north west of England. Before Hungry or Poland or Czechoslovakia, sorry Czech Republic, or Romania or Bulgaria. Its barmy, whose door would you knock on there, and I said as for opening an office in Nigeria its one of the most corrupt countries I have ever been to, people are regularly getting kidnapped and held at ransom.

Female Reporter:  Yeah it's very dicey, isn't it? But it's interesting because we are thinking about looking at potentially trying to put some of the supply chain in the UK, or maybe have some parts of the manufacturing process here. So …

Lord Cunningham:  That would be a big plus. That would be a big plus, depending on what your clients envisage, it would be important not just for you to understand that, but for me to understand it as well because that could be a big plus, now if they want to put roots down, like a manufacturing unit here, or engineers and science and technologists here, that puts you at a big advantage.

Female Reporter:  Yeah, that's what we'd felt. We've basically—we've got—we've come over to talk to various people, and we've got to go back and talk to our founders, Jen and Mike, on—when is it—next Tuesday. We've got to brief them. They've asked us to come back and give them a précis of all the—we're meeting about, I think—how many more meetings have we got, is it two or three?

Lord Cunningham:  You gave me a card didn't you? I can email you a CV.

Female Reporter:  Yes, exactly.

Lord Cunningham:  I can email you the CV.

Female Reporter:  So if you can email me the CV, that would be brilliant.

Lord Cunningham:  Your email address is on the card you just gave me isn't it?

Male Reporter:  Yes it is, yeah. That's right.

Male Reporter:  Are you actually working for anyone at the moment? Or are you—

Lord Cunningham:  Yes, I'm an unremunerated non-executive, unremunerated, I'll emphasis that, non executive director of a small, potentially small business it exists but it's not in [unclear] and it could be a big lead up here.

Female Reporter:  Oh right.

Lord Cunningham:  The technology is polymeric and it's about this big, which if you input a metallic circuit board in it, plug it into a transformer 20-24 volt transformer and stick it on the water tank, guess what, the water through the tank there's no loss of anything because of everything that goes into that goes straight through the copper and even more importantly, if it's plastic, it goes through a plastic packet.

Female Reporter:  Gosh.

Lord Cunningham:  Now this hasn't hit the news yet.

Male Reporter:  What's its application? Not just fish tanks.

Lord Cunningham:  Oh, no, no no.

Female Reporter:  So hot water tanks …?

Lord Cunningham:  I've got two on our water tanks at home so, when this guy came to see me and he told me about all of this and I said look, you know, I need to see this work, Does it really work? Because just occasionally we'll get guys who come up and say "this works and that works" … look at that guy with the anti-bomb things that has just been sent to jail.

Female Reporter:  Oh yes, the bomb detector—I saw that.

Lord Cunningham:  It was the MoD, it's amazing, how the hell they didn't detect it [unclear].

Female Reporter:  Outrageous, isn't it? It was a golf ball detector, wasn't it, or something ludicrous?

Lord Cunningham:  A golf ball detector, that's right. So I said well look, I need to see this work, and after a few minutes he rang me up and said, is it working Jack, I said yes the dials on our gas meter are going backwards.

Female Reporter:  [Laughs.]

Lord Cunningham:  It wasn't true of course but what this thing does is, it's all about the dynamics of water gradients, the water temperature gradients, if you put it in your water, the most expensive way to do that of course is electric rods, you know, the minute the water drops to about 10 degrees below what you have your thermostat set at, by then of course all that energy kicks in and the water goes back up to the right temperature very quickly then it switches off, and then it happens again. So they're working 24 hours a day and a lot of that time you're going to go to sleep, so you don't need hot water at that time. You need the water at the temperature again at something like 6 or 7 o'clock to have a shower or take a bath or whatever. Maybe at 9 or 10 o'clock. Or whatever.

Female Reporter:  Did you say you were not paid for that role?

Lord Cunningham:  No, I'm—it's declared in the register of members' interests—you can look it up on the interests.

Female Reporter:  Really? Yeah, so how come—do you just do it out of the goodness of your heart?

Lord Cunningham:  Sorry?

Female Reporter:  Do you just do it out of the goodness of your heart, or do they give you share options?

Lord Cunningham:  I am a director. I just—they've asked me to be a director … but the business isn't making a lot of money, it's not producing anything.

Male Reporter:  Ah, so when it is, then you're …

Lord Cunningham:  Nobody's taking any money out of it.

Male Reporter:  Do you have a shareholding?

Lord Cunningham:  I do, yes.

Male Reporter:  Yeah, so if it does well then that'd be great?

Lord Cunningham:  If it does well, I have a two per cent.

Male Reporter:  Two per cent. Oh right.

Female Reporter:  Two per cent?

Male Reporter:  That's, and now I understand why you mentioned earlier the idea of having some sort of, when we were talking about building regulations, we should be pushing for an economy type, I can't remember how you described it but regulations that demanded more efficiency in the home, so windows or devices to heat your hot water, that sort of thing. [unclear] work nicely, don't they?

Lord Cunningham:  They do. But it's the simplest way—to save energy in your home is to make sure it's bloody well insulated that is the first one and the quickest way. The second one is probably to change a gas boiler every five years, which is true, because boiler technology makes so many technological efficiency advances such that changing your gas boiler is going to save you a hell of a lot of money.

Female Reporter:  It makes a lot of difference.

Lord Cunningham:  We have been there 12 years, we've changed the gas boiler twice since we bought it, in that length of time, and each time our energy bills, our gas bills have gone down.

Female Reporter:  Oh that's really interesting, I didn't know that.

Lord Cunningham:  Because of the efficiency of the boiler—of the new boiler and our house is double glazed, which also helps. Then you get on to the more marginal expenses like I would never pay for solar panels. My next door neighbour Robbie, he's a Professor of Geology at Durham University, and he's very famous, him and his wife, are good friends, I have got nothing against him, but he's just paid about £15k.

Male Reporter:  Which is quite a lot.

Lord Cunningham:  To have solar panels installed.

Female Reporter:  That must be a big installation, I would have thought?

Lord Cunningham:  Well it's, the adjacent farm building to ours, so you've got these big long south-facing roofs.

Female Reporter:  Oh wow, they must be—oh well I don't know, like eight kilowatts or something?

Lord Cunningham:  But you know—well, Robbie's in his 60s, he's just about to retire, I don't think he will get his money back in under 15 years.

Female Reporter:  It's such a shame; he should have installed our windows.

Lord Cunningham:  Well actually—well he—in the Tyne Valley, solar energy is such that on the south side of our house, I've got two walls that have created a sort of courtyard garden, stone walls all around, south facing, the wind's blocked from the north and south and the west. It's so warm in there that I've got a peach tree outside, growing up the south facing wall of the house.

Female Reporter:  Really?

Lord Cunningham:  And last year we had 32 peaches off it.

Male Reporter:  That's good isn't it?

Lord Cunningham:  So you can do wonders with solar power if you harness it properly. Of course the better you harness it, the more you can do with it.

Female Reporter:  Well there you go.

Lord Cunningham:  So you see—so as I said, this could be a game changer. Also you actually you ask me who else I work with, to I'll tell you.

Female Reporter:  What's the name of your little, do you mind not, what the, your little polymeric pad company? It would be a great to have a look at what they're doing, to see if there's any tie-up.

Lord Cunningham:  It's called, the thing is called Eco Grady

Female Reporter:  Eco Grady

Lord Cunningham:  Eco Grady, because the guy who invented it is called O'Grady.

Female Reporter:  Oh I see, okay.

Lord Cunningham:  Now we wanted to call it all sorts of other things and we went through several hundred of them and we found out people around the world had nabbed them all, you know this business of the way people used to nab, you know, names for the Internet, well all these eco things had been registered. Of course, what they wanted us to do was go along and pay several thousand pounds to buy one of these names from them.

Male Reporter:  That's a hell of a lot of money, as well, isn't it?

Lord Cunningham:  So we thought the hell with that. So we called it Eco Grady.

Female Reporter:  So is it eco as in …

Lord Cunningham:  E-C-O.

Female Reporter:  Eco Grady. Got it. Then, you were going to say there was some other …

Lord Cunningham:  Well, I'm a member of the board of the UK Japan 21st Century Group. For seven years I was the chairman of it, but that was unremunerated too, in the sense that—

Female Reporter:  You've got to stop working for free.

Lord Cunningham:  Well Tony Blair asked me to take that on 20 years ago and I did it for seven years. Every time I went to Japan there was a new prime minister—I've met the last eight Japanese prime ministers—but all this stuff is always on the agenda for the annual conference and the annual conference of that writes a report, which goes to the prime minister, the prime minister of the UK, so it's a big deal. Nobody's paid, our executive director's paid, Professor [unclear] is now the executive director, she gets remunerated, but the chair's not remunerated and the members aren't. I resigned—I stood down from the chair after seven years and I'm still on the board of that and I've just been offered a role—literally just last week—as an advisor to a company who make biofuels.

Female Reporter:  Oh right?

Lord Cunningham:  I'm in the middle of discussing it with them at the moment, but that would be remunerated.

Female Reporter:  Glad to hear it.

Lord Cunningham:  … but I'm not involved in anything that has …

Female Reporter:  That has a conflict? That's good.

Lord Cunningham:  ... so if there had been any conflict, I would have told you straightaway. All these things I used to do ended. I used to be an adviser to the Corporation of the City of London, and the policy and resources committee of the City of London. I used to brief the Lord Mayor once a month, as the head of the committee, because it was important—the Lord Mayor had to know what was going on. With that I had a five-year contract from a previous Parliament, but it worked very well and I enjoyed it—the remuneration wasn't great, but I knew after the 2010 general election—they said Jack the contract's up, will you reapply, I said how can I advise you about the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition Cabinet? I said—you want, I said—there was no falling out, they liked me I liked them. I said you've got to have someone who's much nearer to the coalition government than I could ever be. I mean, you hired me because I was a former Labour Cabinet minister, I was close to Tony and other ministers in the Cabinet and the government and that worked wonderfully well for the government and for me. [Sentence unclear.] I said I couldn't do that with the coalition because they'd—

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  Be a bit sniffy about it, so that's gone as well.

Female Reporter:  Well this is good because what—we're looking for somebody who's more in the thick of it with your fellow peers and mixing with MPs and things, more at that level who could …

Lord Cunningham:  And the terms of science and technology.

Female Reporter:  That's all great too, yeah. One of the things that we're quite interested in is, for example, we'd quite like to set up an all-party group on solar energy, because we think it would be quite useful to have a specific targeted group in that area that could be effectively lobbying for changes in the rules that might harness the technology that we can offer to help meet the various renewables targets, and that's …

Male Reporter:  Yes, we could sort a forum to discuss these technologies and also we could make presentations to people in that field.

Lord Cunningham:  Well I was about to say anybody can set up an all-party parliamentary group, but that's not quite true because you've got to have members from every party .

Female Reporter:  Is that the sort of thing—would you be able to help us with that, do you think, if we were to …

Lord Cunningham:  Well, I'll explain history. After I stood down from the Cabinet, have you ever heard of something called the British Association of Shooting and Conservation?

Female Reporter:  I haven't no, is that—

Lord Cunningham:  … they represent shooters, hunters …

Female Reporter:  Are they pro-gun ownership? Is that what they're about?

Lord Cunningham:  Yes but they're much more than that. James, they're about the proper conduct of government and they're about conservation of the countryside and not slaughtering wildlife indiscriminately, but they are in favour of shooting birds and deer and stuff. So this guy rang me and, I've never met him before, but he said I'd like to come and talk to you. I said what about, is it about shooting and conservation, I said I don't know anything about it, and he said oh he said oh no, he said that's not the point. So he came to see me, he came to our offices he's a former Liberal Democrat parliamentary cabinet and now he's the director of communications and government affairs at the DLSE which is the largest shooting organisation.

Waiter:  Is everything fine?

Female Reporter:  Would you like another glass of wine?

Lord Cunningham:  No, no, I am fine.

Female Reporter:  No are you sure? Thanks

Lord Cunningham:  Let me just keep an eye on the time.

Male Reporter  More water?

Lord Cunningham:  I am fine James thank you.

Lord Cunningham:  Anyway he came to see me, like I said to you, I said why me, he said well I've been doing my homework and everybody says that you're the most influential and experienced Labour backbencher in the House of Commons. I said I'm not sure about that but anyway, I agreed to set up the appointment and of course a whole lot of other Tory peers came along and said I wasn't a fit and proper person to be doing it because I'd voted to ban fox hunting.

Female Reporter:  Is that right?

Male Reporter:  Oh right.

Lord Cunningham:  And I said well it's nothing to do with fox hunting. But the foxhunters were determined to try and get the anglers. Now I'm a lifelong angler as well, fly fishing, and they were trying to, the foxhunters and the Countryside Alliance were trying to get the shooters and the anglers to work with them. I said to the anglers and the shooters, don't touch it with a barge pole.

Female Reporter:  Really.

Lord Cunningham:  Well they're bad news.

Female Reporter  So how long ago was that?

Male Reporter:  How long does it take to set one up?

Lord Cunningham:  Oh it's relatively straightforward, all right, James, it's not a problem for me. I have to register of course. There are rules about it. Now I can get you the booklet on it, it wouldn't be difficult. The important thing would be in advance to identify people across the political spectrum who would be happy to take part in this beforehand.

Female Reporter:  Is that something you'd be able to do for us?

Lord Cunningham:  I'd be able to advise you on that Robyn, but it would be for you to approach rather than me, because after all if by this time I'm engaged and we're working together and I'm employed by you, it may be regarded as just me pushing a financial interest. But I'd certainly work with you on that and advise you with which way to go, and the other thing is, this is not a show stopper, but we now into the third year of Parliament and a lot of people have got their sights fixed on what they're doing. So it might be a bit of a struggle to get a new group going together at this stage. That's not a reason not to try, I'm just saying we can get over these hurdles.

Female Report:  Yeah.

Male Reporter:  But in practice, would you perhaps, would you be say the president or the chairman of the group? Because I guess if it had somebody like you, with your scientific knowledge and obviously you're a well-known name in Parliament, then it might attract …

Lord Cunningham:  Yes, I wouldn't rule that out, by any means and that if you thought that was the best way forward—fine, I was chairman of the BASC one of the first Parliament and I'm vice chairman of that even now. So that's not a problem in doing that, it's just a question of trying to identify good people, Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour and the way it normally works is you'd have a chair from one party, you have the vice chairman from the other party, you'd have a secretary from the third party, and if there's a treasurer you'd have one as well, so that this is genuinely seen to be all parties. You can't have a, sort of, people from just one party, because otherwise it wouldn't pass the test.

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Male Reporter:  If you were the person to set it up, do you necessarily have to be a member of the group? I suppose it follows, doesn't it?

Lord Cunningham:  Well I wouldn't necessarily have to be a member of the group, but if I was involved with you and Robyn in setting it up and we persuaded three people, one Conservative, one Lib Dem, one Labour to take the offices, it would seem odd to them if I then walked away from it.

Male Reporter:  Yes it would.

Female Reporter:  If you weren't?

Lord Cunningham:  You know.

Male Reporter:  I was wondering whether we might take a more prominent role in it?

Lord Cunningham:  Well I think we should leave that unanswered because that may be almost necessary if the thing's struggling to get going, but if we could get it going with three people and leaving me a member but not in charge, that might be better.

Female Reporter:  That might be better.

Lord Cunningham:  Because some people would say, when I talk to young people, I even sometimes political parties I tell them politics is a game of snakes and ladders and all the snakes aren't in the opposition parties.

Female Reporter:  Yeah [laughs].

Lord Cunningham:  So some people will just shoot at the group straightaway and say it's only me earning money and you wouldn't want the thing damaged by that kind of accusation.

Female Reporter:  Incidentally, do you have—because I know one thing that I think some people do is have a consultant or consultancy company, which they use to—people pay the consultancy rather than pay them directly and I think that's a means of not having to go into.

Lord Cunningham:  Oh no, you still have to declare it.

Female Reporter:  Do you? You can't …

Lord Cunningham:  Oh yes, my consultancy company is part of the email address Brinkburn Associates.

Female Reporter:  Brinkburn, right, okay.

Lord Cunningham:  Brinkburn.

Female Reporter:  But you still would have to declare who works for it?

Male Reporter:  You would only be declaring us—our company.

Lord Cunningham:  Sorry?

Male Reporter:  You'd be declaring our company.

Lord Cunningham:  Look, I declare everything, James. I always stick exactly to the rules, whatever the rules are. One of the things I haven't really talked about is, I've been in Parliament since 1970, I've never broken the rules. I've got a letter from Sir Thomas Legg saying Dear Lord Cunningham we have examined your expenses claims for the years you were in the House of Commons and we have no issues to raise with you. Nobody's ever sustained a claim against me about wrongful misconduct in the House of Lords. A couple of people have tried and they've always been dismissed. I was never named or criticised by the Speaker of the House of Commons in 35 years and I never say things to people in private that I wouldn't be prepared to stand up and justify in public. I stick to the rules. It's part of, I was having lunch with Derry Irvine, you know, the former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine.

Male Reporter:  Yes.

Lord Cunningham:  He and I are good friends, and have been for a long time and I said you know Derry, there are certain strong similarities between the legal training and the scientific training and he said don't be so silly. I said you are wrong Derry.

Female Reporter:  [Laughs.]

Lord Cunningham:  Oh, well what other similarities? I said well as a scientist, as a lawyer, you've got to deal with the facts; you've got to deal with the evidence. You can't make things up in court. You can't make things up in science, you've got to look at what happens and report what happens. Same with the law. You have the evidence—if the evidence is not substantiated by the facts, it's worthless, it's the same with scientific results, if the facts are missing from the results that you would like to have your theory's wrong, it's failed. So I said these are the similarities, and I said it brings a certain intellectual rigour to what you want to do, and I would never use a number in the [Unclear] that I wasn't absolutely sure that it was diamond sure you can fiddle around with bits, the ones that [unclear].

Male Reporter:  It's very easy to skew facts with numbers?

Lord Cunningham:  That's right. So I've got no blemishes on my record of any type and I would always want to keep it that way.

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Male Reporter:  Are all those things that … because do you know … your obligation would be to …

Lord Cunningham:  To declare it.

Male Reporter:  To declare a payment from us.

Lord Cunningham:  I would declare it. Don't worry about that. Don't worry.

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Lord Cunningham:  Then I would—I've never don't worry I am not accusing you of accusing me of anything it's a legitimate question for you to ask … no problem about that. As I said, you know, I always completely, in the sense of my revenue, adhered to the rules whatever the rules have been. When I was in the cabinet office, the Daily Mail ran a story. I could have sued them for many things, but they ran the story, I don't know where they got this nonsense from. Every time I went to my constituency which is at least three weeks out of four … four weeks, my constituency was 400 square miles of west and south Cumbria.

Female Reporter:  Gosh, huge.

Lord Cunningham:  Yeah so once every day in my constituency I was travelling 100 miles. That's 50 miles from end to end. They ran a story which said I was so close to the nuclear industry that every time I went to my constituency I stayed at British Nuclear Fuels' guest house which is Sellafield House, just on the boundary of the plant so my then special adviser, Tim Walker lovely guy, we're still good friends. He's now chief executive of the—what do you call them, the manipulators? Bone manipulators?

Male Report:  Chiropractors?

Lord Cunningham:  No

Female Reporter:  Osteopath is it? Osteopath

Lord Cunningham:  Osteopaths, he's now their chief executive. He was with BMA before that. Anyway he pulled this off, he said Jack what is this all about? I looked at it and say it's nonsense, so he said well, you know what it's like the media, are on the phone, I said tell them it's just not true. I said issue a statement because that's not true, so the Daily Mail persisted with this story so the registrar ran this inquest and the House of Commons wrote me a letter. So I said to Tim, just ring up Neville Chamberlain's office, he was the chief executive, great friend. Like me, born in County Durham, the north-east of England. I said, just ring up Neville, tell them what's happening and say, you know, we're sorry [unclear] … how many times I've stayed at Sella Park House since I've been in the Cabinet. It turned out to be three, three times. That was three times in three years so I wrote this letter to the registrar, Elizabeth Filkin. Who is a good friend, I always personally got on with her fine and her deputy.

  I bumped into them in the tea room. And somebody said you know, why do you stay there at all? I said, well look if I go to dinner with the board of British Nuclear Fuels they ask me every year, I don't do it [unclear] … or an event where I was asked to present the prizes to apprenticeships ... why … My home is over 100 miles away you know. I said, I'm not going to drive over at one or two o'clock in the morning after I've had some alcohol. So on those occasions which are rare, I stay. He said, is that all it's about? I said, yeah.

Female Reporter:  Oh, honestly.

Lord Cunningham:  I said, you know, I'll send you a photocopy of the map. West Cumbria is here on the west coast and I live here in the town valley above it, it's 90-odd miles, I said 100 miles. The Daily Mail concocted this story up from absolutely nothing and of course the registrar just dismissed it.

Female Reporter:  Yeah.

Lord Cunningham:  He sent me a statement saying he just dismissed it. You see people do try these things but …

Female Reporter:  I can't imagine it's possible to survive a career in politics as long as yours has been without sort of occasionally having a scrape with the Daily Mail but I suppose to come out on top is probably quite a rare thing.

Lord Cunningham:  When I was appointed to be adviser of the court rooms for the City for London which of course is probably [unclear] they issued a press release saying I had been punished. Well I was interviewed by the chairman, Sir Michael Schnider. He asked me a question about it and I smiled and I said I live in a big village in County Durham. There are only about four things in the village, there is the coalmine, which was ran by my grandfather, a private enterprise before nationalisation was the service manager is that and the manager from service [unclear] and the manager of the underground part of it. I lived in my grandfather's house, he went to work in a bowler hat, tail coat, pin-striped trousers, like everyone in the village, it was only the coalmine, and the Co-op and the National Union of Mineworkers and the Labour party. So I said to them, I've been brainwashed from an early age, really Sir Michael but you know I was brought up in a culture where people hated the City of London and despised the House of Lords.

Now I'm a member of one and I'm seeking to work for the other, doesn't life change? Anyway the incident the press [unclear] obviously … Michael Shnider came and said, we were good friends, he said you know, Jack when we saw your name, I thought why have we got to do it through this rigmarole? He is the only the candidate that I would appoint. He said apologise, you have to go through the process. I said, of course you do, it's local government. Never mind Jack. So they issued the press release anyway.

About two years later the Lib Dem MP, who I'd never met, never spoken to. In conjunction with The Guardian ran a story to say, incidentally the appointment is in the register of members anyway, so that was already said. The story said, that I had connived with the City of London Corporation to keep this appointment a secret. The Guardian had actually received a copy of the press release.

Female Reporter:  Really?

Lord Cunningham:  They still published this story. Of course there was a big inquiry in the House of Lords into all of this. I went to the Registrar and said, this is complete nonsense. It could be seen on the Corporation's website. It's actually on their website, it has been since the decision was made. How can this stupid Lib Dem MP make this false accusation?

Female Reporter:  Oh, honestly, how tiresome.

Lord Cunningham:  And The Guardian printed it. Anyway he said, well it will have to go to the committee report and all the rest of it I said, well I want to go to the committee and make sure they hear the truth from me. Anyway it was a big who har about it, the former Lord Chief Justice who's chair with the same committee of [unclear] Lord Woolf and he produced the draft report and I said I want to see him at his request, and he and the Registrar were sitting [unclear]. He said, well what have you got to say about this? I said, well the short answer, the polite answer is it's nonsense. The truth is the whole thing's a pack of lies. You know, and he started questioning me as though I was a defendant in court, I said look I'm not going to sit here and be cross-examined and feel guilty for something I haven't done.

I said, you've seen all the evidence and he said, well I can't be sure I've seen all the evidence. I said, but what other evidence is there to see. So he, Woolf, was obviously hostile to me, I don't know why, it's the first time I spoke to the guy in my life. So he produced this draft report which he said, very clearly. He said, well I've met Lord [unclear] and he questions him and he appears to be telling the truth.

Female Reporter:  Oh dear.

Lord Cunningham:  I said to the Registrar, forget that, I'm not tolerating that.

Female Reporter:  No, quite right.

Male Reporter:  You said, either he has evidence that you didn't tell the truth or?

Lord Cunningham:  That's right. I said, I'm telling you the truth, and I said I'm telling you, I will wipe him out of the floor of the House, if he continues with this smear on my integrity I'm just not having it.

Female Reporter:  Quite right.

Lord Cunningham:  I went to see the Leader of the Lords who then [whole sentences unclear] I said I am just not having it. I said if necessary I would stand in the House of Commons and read all this for the record. And the upshot was, I wrote all this out, and gave it to Cathy Ashton, whose now the—

Female Reporter:  Oh, right.

Lord Cunningham:  Who is the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, a much derided woman but in my experience pretty good. David [unclear] well the result was that Lord Woolf and his sub-committee were dismissed.

Female Reporter:  Really?

Lord Cunningham:  Yes, they were all sacked …

Female Reporter:  Gosh, so he really came out on top of that scrap.

Male Reporter:  What did Cathy Ashton sack them? Can she do that?

Lord Cunningham:  The Committee for Privileges sacked them. She couldn't do it on her own. They couldn't just fire them [unclear] was appointed in the [unclear] Derry Irvine and a woman I knew but I'd never spoke to the woman. She used to be in one of the great voluntary organisations, she's now a member of the House of Lords, nice woman. Anyway she is chair to the [unclear], Derry Irvine rang me and said, I've been appointed by the sub-committee to draft a report on all this nonsense. I said, yes ok you draft your report Derry and I'll consider it with you and if I approve it [long sentence unclear] I said you can introduce them [unclear].

Female Reporter:  I know that's wrong isn't it.

Lord Cunningham:  Anyway Derry produced a report which was about 10 pages long. In which he concluded that the complaint was false, it was dismissed. He said, are you content with that? I said, well you could have said that in about three pages Derry, but okay.

Female Reporter:  [Laughs]

Lord Cunningham:  So all this went away. Honestly I have never ever had any question of wrongdoing against me and I wouldn't.

Female Reporter:  No well that's good to know we wouldn't want to …

Lord Cunningham:  Whatever we agreed on in terms of the document, I don't have to—if there's a contract which I expect there will be and exactly what [unclear].

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Male Reporter:  Well the contract would be with Colton & Goldie Global.

Lord Cunningham:   Oh yes, yes.

Male Reporter:  Which is what you've registered?

Lord Cunningham:  That's right, that's what I would register but I wouldn't have to give a copy. I would just register the fact.

Female Reporter:  Okay and so the things that you might be able to do for us on the parliamentary side which is what Jen and Mike are particularly interested in. Although the other stuff is great, sort of as a benefit as well, would be potentially helping us with that all-party group.

Lord Cunningham:  Yes.

Female Reporter:  So is that potentially you may be chairing it or not depending in whether that seems to be the most kind of expedient thing at the time.

Lord Cunningham:  Yup. Keep an open mind about that one.

Female Reporter:  But helping us to—arranging introductions and things where it's …

Lord Cunningham:  So opening doors yes I mean that's going, that's going to be one of the big things in this.

Female Reporter:  Brilliant, great.

Male Reporter:  Presumably your connections will be Labour rather than—or does it not work that way?

Lord Cunningham:  One of my oldest acquaintances in politics is Tom McNally who is one of the leaders of the Lib Dems in the House of Lords.

Male Reporter:  Oh right.

Lord Cunningham:  Because when I was in James Callaghan's PPS and the foreign Commonwealth officer was his political adviser.

Male Reporter:  Right.

Lord Cunningham:  We shared a room at 10 Downing Street. He defected to the SDP and then the Lib Dems. I have known Tom for nearly 40 years.

Female Reporter:  Oh that's great so cross-party ties.

Lord Cunningham:  I'll try to say this as neutrally as I can. I have a whole inter-connection across the party spectrum. I have never wasted, 50 seconds or 40 seconds in 40 years personally abusing my political opponents, which is a complete waste of time. I stick to the facts and the issues. I want to speak to them in argument and debate, but personal insults have never been part of my makeup and as a consequence it's fair to say I am pretty well regarded across the political spectrum. For someone who knows what he's talking about, who sticks to the issues, respects Parliament and respects his opponents even though he doesn't agree with them.

Female Reporter:  Oh that's great.

Lord Cunningham:  I haven't quite got what—never [unclear] and take Michael Forsyth, who was a really powerful, very able Secretary of State for Scotland when he was voting in the House of Commons [unclear]. Michael and I get on like a house on fire. He's now in the House of Lords.

Female Reporter:  That's very useful.

Lord Cunningham:  I still know plenty of people in the House of Commons. But more so with the Conservatives and Labour than with the Lib Dems but lots of … as well. David Steel and I are great friends … for example.

Female Reporter:  No that's great.

Lord Cunningham:  So any advice or guidance or introductions I gave to you wouldn't be confined to just to the Labour party.

Female Reporter:  That's great. The introductions are really helpful because that's where we're a bit short really.

Lord Cunningham:  I mean, if I could do is introduce you to people in the Labour party you wouldn't really be getting value for money. You want somebody I guess who could do much more than that.

Female Reporter:  Yes absolutely.

Lord Cunningham:  So yes, knocking on doors, introductions, and getting to see people including if necessary the ministers. That is part of the package as I understand it.

Female Reporter:  You could do it, that's really helpful. Do you think the strategy of setting up an all-party group to kind of—to use as a kind of lobbying platform for the solar technology that we got is a good way forward? I mean it's …

Lord Cunningham:  It's a sensible idea, I wouldn't—you'd probably have to provide a secretariat for instance.

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Male Reporter:  Well we might—get a public affairs company to do that.

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Lord Cunningham:  Yes well you know that now. You'd have to get somebody to kind of shore it up. That's what BASC does with the all-party shooting group. BASC provides the secretariat in the background. Slightly different things.

Male Reporter:  This is the [inaudible] organisation.

Female Reporter:  This is the one that you set up for them?

Lord Cunningham:  Sorry?

Female Reporter:  That's the one that you set up for them is it, the shooting one? Is that the group that you set up for?

Lord Cunningham:  Yes, yes

Female Reporter:  Did they …

Lord Cunningham:  Which I still vice chair.

Female Reporter:  Was that something that they, was that a professional service that you offered to them or was that …

Lord Cunningham:  Oh no it was not remunerated, none of this could be remunerated.

Female Reporter:  Right.

Lord Cunningham:  No, I mean so that's why you'd have to check the rules, that's why I've said it's not necessarily a good idea for me to be the chair. I certainly could be a member of it.

Female Reporter:  You could be a member of it?

Lord Cunningham:  I would help to manage its programme of its activities. Yes but we would need to check the rules as to whether a paid person could actually be …

Female Reporter:  I see.

Lord Cunningham:  But I've actually got the book on my desk.

Female Reporter:  Oh perfect.

Lord Cunningham:  That I've studied before, I knew I'd got it sitting there and there it was.

Female Reporter:  Oh brilliant, because Haemosu would be probably—I mean what we would probably do is have Haemosu, the solar energy company would be paying for the secretariat and sponsoring the group and sponsoring events and things. Obviously they're our ultimate client, but you would be declaring us as your client. So I don't know whether—I don't know how that affects things or whether it would be.

Lord Cunningham:  Well that's why me being chair of the thing might not be sensible.

Female Reporter:  Yes but there wouldn't be an obvious connection with Haemosu.

Lord Cunningham:  Let me say something say something else to you about this. If you were wanting to get impact from the thinking at Westminster or in local government, or at political party conferences for example, you know, at fringe events and things.

Female Reporter:  Okay.

Lord Cunningham:  That's something I spend a lot of time doing because for a decade I was chair of the Labour party's big fundraising organisation called the Thousand Club.

Female Reporter:  Oh right, yes, I've heard of that.

Lord Cunningham:  Have you heard of the Thousand Club? Well I'm no longer chair of them now but Ken Follett and I the author, Ken's who's a great personal friend, Ken Follett and I established the Thousand Club.

Female Reporter:  That's for donors isn't it? Is that for people who make donations, is that—

Lord Cunningham:  It's for the—when I became chair of the General Election Planning, which was "secret", we never put it out who was on it or anything like that. We had a very funny evening over dinner with the Financial Times, when my great friend Philip Stephens was casting his [unclear] but we haven't got time to go into that now. But anyway the idea was I was three year's out in 1989, Neil Kinnock as leader asked me to do this job, John Smith and I, his staff, I think he had three and I had two were just celebrating our re-election to the Shadow Cabinet with a bottle of champagne in my office. When Charles Clarke knocked on the door and he said, I would really like to see you Jack. So we knew the job was going to be who was appointed Shadow Chancellor so I knew he wasn't going to make me Shadow Chancellor.

So I got up to see him and I said, it's—because we'd got the results of the election narrowed there. He said Jack everything I'm going to do from now on depends on you accepting this appointment. I said what appointment is that? He said I want you to be Shadow Leader of the Commons that gives you a role in the chamber. But the new role is going to be planning and preparing the next general election campaign. Which was three years away.

Female Reporter:  Really.

Lord Cunningham:  So we talked about it a while I said and I knew—I think you've got the wrong man. He said why do you say that? I said well you know me I'm not that popular. I don't suffer fools lightly and I can't stand lazy or incompetent people and we've got a few of them around. He said I know you're not the most popular boy in the class Jack but he said you're my first person for the job. So I said, well I'd like to think about it, can I tell you tomorrow. This was when Neil was growing up politically, he said you've got one hour [laughs].

So I went back downstairs to John Smith and told him. John Smith said what did you say? I told him, John said, well for God's sake get back upstairs and accept otherwise some bloody idiot will get the job.

Female Reporter:  [Laughs.]

Lord Cunningham:  So I accepted it. Then because the trade unions, including my own, were controlling the purse strings I said I cannot plan, my conditions were I was in charge of every local government campaign, the Euro election campaign, all parliamentary by-elections between then and the general election. Because I said you've got to have a constant theme. You've got to have a rebuttal system so all the nonsense can be instantly [unclear] we've got to make sure we've got an accurate story to tell campaigners. Which we built up but the unions wouldn't give us the money. So I took myself off to America. Ken Follett came, Philip Gould—God bless him, he's dead now.

Female Reporter:  Oh okay.

Lord Cunningham:  We just went and met the Democrats and picked their brains about how they raised money and what they called plate dinners and we attended the gala dinners for the Labour party.

Lord Cunningham:  We invented the 1,000 club, you simply sorry if we get a thousand people so you could pay £1,000 you'd get a million.

Female Reporter:  I see, yeah that's a good point. So do you think is that a good idea do you think, making a donation?

Lord Cunningham:  No, no, but having a presence is a good idea, having a presence. Now I don't think you can start making donations to political parties, not yet anyway, but …

Male Reporter:  Well actually one of the ideas that we were kicking about was whether, I mean aren't there manifestos being written at the moment? I mean I don't know how easy it is to persuade say one of the parties to have a manifesto commitment to this sort of technology.

Female Reporter:  Like say you could have a commitment towards the building regulations.

Lord Cunningham:  Unlikely I would say James. I mean they may have the commitment to support say research and development into more efficient alternative energy technology.

Male Reporter:  Well they'd be mad not to, wouldn't they? But that's a bit vague!

Lord Cunningham:  But it's a bit vague for you.

Female Reporter:  Because we'd obviously want it to be quite specifically targeted to our technology.

Lord Cunningham:  It's very rare in fact from my experience [unclear] for a manifesto to identify one aspect of one technology and say, you know, we promise to—

Female Reporter:  No, no it would be more like a commitment to the use of solar glass say, which is not specific to us but obviously we would be the market leader we would hope.

Lord Cunningham:  That's, nuanced in that way that might be possible. Anyway look …

Male Reporter:  Is that easy to do?

Lord Cunningham:  It's bloody difficult.

Male Reporter:  Depends who's writing it I suppose.

Lord Cunningham:  That's difficult. My guess is at the next election, guess, this is just me guessing, obviously if we take this forward together we'll have to work on this, my guess is that the main parties is will be looking more for strategic commitments rather than specific and detailed commitments because the situation is so uncertain financially and economically as well as politically.

Male Reporter:  Very hard to keep promises yeah, I understand that.

Lord Cunningham:  But there's no reason why you couldn't get alongside people, see if this was to work we'd have to get in where it hurt to talk to people and say well look, technology's advancing, you know, you've got to keep abreast of technology, here's an aspect of solar technology which is advancing more effectively and more rapidly than anything else, this should be on your radar.

Female Reporter:  Absolutely. I mean who should we be talking to about that do you think? In the first instance?

Lord Cunningham:  This is why I said as well as having your all-party group, one of the things that works pretty well if you plan meticulously and are careful is to have a reception and a presentation in Parliament, which you can do you see.

Female Reporter:  Is that the sort of thing you could help us arrange do you think?

Lord Cunningham:  Oh yes, you'd have to get someone, mainly me if we were working together, to book the thing for you. So you can book the terrace facilities for example. You can have a lovely, I mean it's too late for this year because they'll all be fully booked up now, you've got to get in early, but you have a reception, you have somebody come along and give a brief presentation. Then you invite people, parliamentarians from both Houses across the spectrum who are interested in science and technology and energy policy and what not, and you just invite them along, and then—then your clients mingle with them and meet them and people will be making kind of sidebar appointments to meet for further chats and whatnot. Done properly and efficiently, that can work very well.

Female Reporter:  Fantastic.

Female Reporter:  That would be really, really useful,

Male Reporter:  I would imagine it's quite a big draw—the House of Lords— for clients.

Lord Cunningham:  Oh it is, it is. The one thing you've got to do is avoid Thursday evenings because a lot of people are leaving to go back to their constituencies, so avoid Thursday evenings. I can write you with a thing about how to do that. The next thing you've got to do is say the invitation is not transferrable, otherwise you might see, if it's a quiet night, instead of the peers or the MPs turning up, all their researchers turn up and you've got full of kids—

Male Reporter:  Who don't matter. …

Lord Cunningham:  That's right. You don't want that, so you've got to say the invitation is not transferable, and if you can't come in person please let us know. So don't worry, I know the tricks of the trade.

Female Reporter:  Brilliant.

Lord Cunningham:  And then what I would say was fringe events or exhibitions at party conferences, depending on your budget and your staff resources, are worth thinking about because there you not only impact with parliamentarians but you impact constituency delegates and trade union people. You can have an impact with a good little exhibition and a good presentation and you can have an impact.

Female Reporter:  That sounds really good actually. Because that's what we want to be doing really, just sort of engaging and making ourselves known.

Lord Cunningham:  You could also at party meetings, this is not an either/or, you can do both, you could sponsor fringe meetings where you've just got somebody come along and speak about the technology and how that is advancing and what the potential is. So there's a whole patchwork of things you can do across the year or two years to promote your client and the technology.

Male Reporter:  And, I mean, in some ways it would be quite, I mean I would obviously have to get you up to speed on it but I don't think that would be difficult because you're obviously very scientifically minded. Would you be able to, you know, you were talking about opening doors earlier, would you be able to speak for the product when you open the doors?

Lord Cunningham:  Oh yes. Oh yes, I mean I spoke to Tony Blair and others about the Maglevs. I mean, it's not a problem when you've spent all your life in science and technology issues.

Male Reporter:  You can't get much better than going to the Prime Minister to lobby can you?

Lord Cunningham:  Well don't forget that was a Labour Prime Minister you're referring to.

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Lord Cunningham:  Mind you, I was working for Brookfield plc, which is a huge construction company, and I barely know David Cameron but we've always got on personally, I walked into the Concorde lounge at Heathrow airport, where I'm privileged to be invited because for 40-odd years I've travelled the globe on British Airways, and there he was sitting with about five of his staff, and he'd just won the election, and I walked in and stopped and he said, oh hello Jack. And I said, well it's the first time I've met you since the general election, congratulations on becoming Prime Minister, I know what a privilege it is to be Prime Minister, although I've never been Prime Minister myself as you know but I've worked with James Callaghan when he was Prime Minister. He said I'd forgotten that, when was that? I said it was 1976. I said do know the little room next to the Cabinet Office, he said yes, I said that used to be my office.

He said, so what are you doing in London during the recess? I said well I'm working for this company who are into greening public buildings, you know, making them more energy efficient and all the rest of it and making them cleaner and more user friendly and all the rest of it. He said, oh that sounds good and do they save energy as well? I said oh yes, he said, well will you drop me a note about it? So I did, and he wrote to his then energy secretary and told him to cooperate with us on it.

Male Reporter:  So you were able to then go to the Energy Secretary?

Lord Cunningham:  That's right. That's right. That's right.

Female Reporter:  That's fantastic, wow.

Lord Cunningham:  He ended up in the slammer of course.

Female Reporter:  Oh was it, what's his name, Chris—

Lord Cunningham:  Chris Huhne.

Female Reporter:  Chris Huhne, that's the one. Oh no, so did that mean the deal fell through or did it—

Lord Cunningham:  Oh no, the deal fell through stupidly because Brookfield, when the economic collapse came, Brookfield pulled out.

Female Reporter:  Oh did they? Oh but it's great that the government were willing to talk to them about it, that's really great.

Lord Cunningham:  So you see that's [unclear] as long as it's done in an open and proper way. I mean Brookfield weren't making any donations but that was a chance meeting between me and the Prime Minister.

Female Reporter:  But if I were to walk past the Prime Minister at Heathrow airport I don't think he'd give me the time of day so that's why it's great having someone like you.

Lord Cunningham:  No, but you see there's no reason why—if we should work together—I shouldn't write to the appropriate secretary of state or to the Prime Minister and say, look, this is something I think you should look at.

Female Reporter:  Really? You can do …

Lord Cunningham:  Yes.

Female Reporter:  Do they respond if you …

Lord Cunningham:  Well he did to me, David Cameron did to me. If you see his constituency chairman, he'll say he never answers their letters. Better not tell them he wrote to me.

Female Reporter:  That's really good. What about things like—can you ask questions in Parliament and things like that?

Lord Cunningham:  Yes, as long as I declare the interest yes, but, you know, we can get other people to ask questions as well.

Female Reporter:  Really?

Lord Cunningham:  Oh yes, that's perfectly allowed.

Female Reporter:  How do you do that? Do you have friends that you work with regularly and that sort of thing?

Lord Cunningham:  Well you would have to work out what question it is you want to ask Robyn. An old parliamentary saying, and it's usually true, never ask a question unless you already know the answer.

Female Reporter:  That's true.

Lord Cunningham:  I'm going to have to go, I want to go because I'm meeting an old friend for dinner.

Female Reporter:  Well thank you for your time at such short notice, so that's really kind will you e-mail me a copy of your CV?

Lord Cunningham:  I will e-mail you a copy of my CV.

Female Reporter:  Wonderful and we will get back to you.

Lord Cunningham:  I will tell you, if you want it in writing, that if we reach an agreement then [two days ago] I would be available to you …

Female Reporter:  That's so kind. Well I think James and …

Lord Cunningham:  … whenever. When I worked—I told you I worked for Dell, great guys, lovely culture. A new guy came in as their [unclear] in London and where else—they were paying you, in those days, it's a long time ago so a substantial amount—they were paying me about £30K a year [unclear] he came to me and said I want to change the terms of your contract. So I [unclear] basically what it's all about, so I listened to him moaning and he said we'll pay you £1,000 a day or part thereof.

So I said that means if I get a phone call from somebody in the UK headquarters [unclear] and the phone call lasts 15 minutes, I send you an invoice for £1,000? No, no, he said, I said well that's part of the day, isn't it? I said, how many phone calls in a day do I have to take before you pay me £1,000? He said, I hadn't thought of this. I said, no, you clearly hadn't thought. I said, frankly it doesn't work for me and it wouldn't work for you. So I said, I'll give you three months' notice and I just said I'll leave.

Male Reporter:  Were you doing parliamentary advisory stuff for [unclear]?

Lord Cunningham:  Oh yes.

Male Reporter:  How long ago was that?

Lord Cunningham:  It was in the '80s, so it was a long time ago. Anyway look …

Male Reporter:  I didn't know they were around then.

Lord Cunningham:  I've been around forever.

Male Reporter:  Sorry, no, Dell.

Female Reporter:  He means Dell.

Male Reporter:  No, no, the computer company. You mentioned Dell earlier.

Lord Cunningham:  [Unclear.]

Lord Cunningham:  Are you suggesting £10k a month?

Female Reporter:  Yes, does that …

Lord Cunningham:  Well you said that for two days a month?

Female Reporter:  That sort of thing. What we were thinking was the two days would be spread over the month.

Lord Cunningham:  If I think about it, if I'm available—and again depending on—if I'm available to you whenever, as I would be, particularly now since I don't have a lot to do and this sounds like a great, you know, opportunity.

Female Reporter:  I'm glad you think so.

Lord Cunningham:  Make that £12k.

Female Reporter:  Yes, £12k, okay, we can—let me write that down.

Lord Cunningham:  £12k a month, I think we could do a deal on that.

Female Reporter:  Okay.

Lord Cunningham:  And then it doesn't matter, Monday to Sunday you can contact me.

Female Reporter:  We can certainly—we'll obviously need to take that back to chat to Mike about it.

Male Reporter:  I don't think it'll be a problem …

Female Reporter:  I would have thought …

Male Reporter:  … because it's within the ballpark, isn't it?

Female Reporter:  It is yes, but I think also the complete availability is really helpful.

Lord Cunningham:  [Unclear.]

Female Reporter:  Which is great. I think they'd really like that actually because I think it's the sort of thing that would appeal to Michael. He likes people here who want to roll up their sleeves and …

Lord Cunningham:  [Unclear] Quite simply I'd rather do two or three jobs well than five or six [unclear]. I don't know what it is about my DNA but I don't like to give a secretary anything and if I'm working for something I want it to win.

Female Reporter:  Well that's really good, but obviously …

Lord Cunningham:  It's quite hard when you're—it makes life hard when you're a lifelong Newcastle United supporter.

Female Reporter:  Yes.

Male Reporter:  That's one of the reasons we quite like hiring somebody in the Lords because we just [unclear].

Lord Cunningham:  No, what you get is you get … they too often …

Female Reporter:  Yes quite.

Male Reporter:  [Unclear] managing director, or whatever introducing us …

Lord Cunningham:  [Unclear] as well.

Male Reporter:  [Unclear] great to have …

Female Reporter:  Really good.

Lord Cunningham:  I've seen that working [James] and you're absolutely right [unclear] big occasion we get the head honcho and then after that you get …

Female Reporter:  Some junior account handler, yes.

Lord Cunningham:  Now with me, I would never send the PA or the junior assistant or the work experience person. You'd never—I would never do that.

Female Reporter:  That's really good.

Lord Cunningham:  If you want me to do something, it'll be me.

Female Reporter:  It'll be you. That's such a great assurance. We should say, it's really kind of you to offer your—that you're available anytime but obviously it's not going to be a full-time job, as I'm sure you're …

Lord Cunningham:  I understand that.

Female Reporter:  It's going to still work out, I would imagine, to two days a month but it just occasionally may be a bit more, sometimes a bit less.

Lord Cunningham:  Phone me, send me an e-mail, you can say could I come and talk to somebody, could I invite somebody to the House of Lords for lunch, whatever.

Female Reporter:  Well that sort of thing would be great, because I'd imagine having …

Lord Cunningham:  All that comes with the deal.

Female Reporter:  If we wanted to entertain potential business partners, say of Haemosu, if we could host them in the Lords for lunch or something would occasionally be—

Lord Cunningham:  Yes. Or on the terrace or whatever it might be.

Female Reporter:  That would be wonderful.

Lord Cunningham:  If we do a deal on this you two better get a drink on the terrace before we sign.

Female Reporter:  I'd love to do that. I've never been, so I'd love to do that.

Male Reporter:  That's really good. Just before we go. Could I just ask you one question? You know that Jen and Mike, our directors are quite interested in an APPG?

Female Reporter:  All-party parliamentary—APPG, we'll call them that.

Male Reporter:  When you set up the thing with British [unclear] how long did it take you to do?

Lord Cunningham:  A short time, it depends.

Female Reporter:  If we say—I know there's about to be a recess but if we hit the ground running pretty much immediately, when do you think we could hope to have one up and running?

Lord Cunningham:  Well my advice would be the recess starts tomorrow, the House resumes on 3 June, if we've got a contract, you and I got a contract by then, we can start then immediately to suss people out, on a personal basis first, and then we may get an agreement, you know, one MP, one peer, officers and then probably the thing to do would be to launch it in October when the House resumes, do the homework, get the people in position. It's possible that we could do it by the end of the term, but I know that the summer period for garden parties and … I would get more than a 100 invitations for events in the summer months.

Female Reporter:  Really?

Lord Cunningham:  I might go to two or three, you just get bombarded [unclear] and then of course there are the big firms, the BBC, [unclear] Ascot, gardens, you know and all that sort of thing, there's an absolute deluge of invitations since Parliament has established [unclear] so it gets difficult to nail people down basically, you know and then they're inviting their Lord Mayor [unclear] for tea on the terrace so it is a difficult period in getting into people's diaries, but we could certainly start and try to identify people and get them to placed [unclear].

Female Reporter:  Fantastic, that sounds really good.

Male Reporter:  With that, how did you do the payment? Did they, they were your client were they?

Lord Cunningham:  No, I didn't work for them.

Male Reporter:  You didn't work for them at all?

Lord Cunningham:  No, I didn't work for them at all, no no, James I have never worked for them I a member of the [unclear] because they persuaded me to take up shooting so I went and bought myself an expensive Italian shotgun and I'm certainly not going to Holland & Holland or [unclear] £50 a go, £50,000 a go, I have never done anything like that, but I was never paid by them, I did it because they convinced me that it was a worthwhile job to do in the secondary parliament [unclear]. I was never remunerated, never remunerated, and there were numerous offices [unclear] I think [unclear] that's why I said [unclear].

Female Reporter:  About whether you, yeah.

Male Reporter:  I see, I see.

Female Reporter:  But you can still remember.

Lord Cunningham:  [Unclear] There might be two events, I have just been invited to a [unclear] for Holland & Holland to go to the factory where they make them but I don't think I will go.

Female Reporter:  There were so many.

Lord Cunningham:  They have made a mistake by doing it on a Monday morning, you see, so I'd have come down to London on the Sunday just to get there you see.

Male Reporter:  It's not that exciting to go and see a gun factory I don't know why [unclear].

Lord Cunningham:  Well, well when they are one of the greatest and most famous gun makers in the world you will see …

Female Reporter:  If you like your guns.

Lord Cunningham:  [Unclear] engineering, you'll see skill and engineering [unclear] I've just been invited to join the Worshipful Society of Gunmakers.

Male Reporter:  Really?

Lord Cunningham:  This is all because of that because I got this thing going, I mean I don't know whether I want to be a member of the British Worshipful Society of Gunmakers, they're a decent bunch of people and all the rest of it and again it's not a question of remuneration, it's a question of me paying them to be a member, not that the fees are [unclear] but no, you … just a part-time contract … maybe I shoot clay pigeons but I have been in a shooting syndicate, shooting pheasants in the park but …

Male Reporter:  Do you still shoot or not?

Lord Cunningham:  Yes, oh yes shooting [unclear] the only time I …

Female Reporter:  Are you okay for time?

Lord Cunningham:  [Unclear] yes I am ok for time, when I was an Energy Minister and I went to—somebody's ringing me, excuse me.

Female Reporter:  Oh dear.

Lord Cunningham:  My phone's …

Female Reporter:  Don't want to make you be late.

Lord Cunningham:  My phone's permanently on silent, you can feel it vibrate.

Female Reporter:  Yes, ours will probably go

Lord Cunningham:  [On his mobile phone] Hello. Where are you?

Female Reporter:  We must let the poor chap go.

Lord Cunningham:  I am in a hotel at St James's, so I am going to get in a cab and come and pick you up although I am wearing. What? Yeah well I would like, I would like to, I am in a suit and tie, I'm wearing my uniform still. I will ring you back in a couple of minutes when I am in a cab. Ok ok. Bye.

Lord Cunningham:  That's my great friend whom I'm having dinner with tonight. Anyway, I went [unclear] and said oh we are going shooting, [unclear] I said to them I have never shot in my life, he said don't worry you will have a guide with you. So we got up at four o'clock in the morning, this was in late February, and we were down at Houston or just south of Houston and we went out in this huge launch, I mean massive launch, heated of course and air conditioning and these Texan old guys were drinking malt whisky at five o'clock in the morning.

Female Reporter:  Oh my goodness.

Lord Cunningham:  I said get me a cup of tea or a coffee or something and anyway, we got out in the golf, still [unclear] and these [unclear] developers [unclear] all got in with their guns. I'd given these guys … who were half Mexican and half Texan and he had a terribly, terribly damaged complexion because of the [unclear] and all his friends called him [unclear] which was a bit cruel. So we went out and we had these hides in the middle of the Mexican Gulf and [unclear] and we had our sandwiches and flasks of coffee. To my astonishment, we were miles from land when of course this air propellers went up to this hive it just [unclear] the water was two feet deep, right out in the middle of the Mexican Gulf.

Female Reporter:  Wow.

Lord Cunningham:  Anyway, we were shooting [pheasants] and I played squash and also played tennis. In those days I used to play squash very well [unclear]. And [unclear] came and he gave me a shot and I hit it.

Female Reporter:  Oh really?

Lord Cunningham:  So then we had our sandwiches and filled in a bit of time gasbagging and then the sun was going down, it was a short day and the ducks were coming back, [unclear] and then they would came back so you got a second go anyway I shot about nine or 10 ducks. So the guy liked to gamble, so we all put 100 dollars in for which guy got the most ducks. This guy pinches the money and so he said you must come and join the gang, they want to have a photograph with you as the guy who shot the most ducks so I was standing with all these guys and one of them said to me how long have you been shooting? I said that's the first time I've ever fired a shotgun in my life.

Female Reporter:  Really?

Lord Cunningham:  This guy Peter said well you sure either is the most natural damn gunshot I've ever met or the biggest damned liar in the world. That was in the 1970s but I still found that I have a shooting code, that is clay, clay pigeons [unclear] good guy, and you know 10 clays with him [unclear] I said yeah I can only do it once in awhile, I can't do 10 out of 10 every time and he said if you could you be in the Olympic team I said I think I am a bit old for all for that.

Female Reporter:  Oh well, I never [unclear] put that in your [briefing].

Lord Cunningham:  Now, I'm going to email you.

Female Reporter:  Great, yes if you could email me your [CV]

Lord Cunningham:  My CV and you can show your colleagues and then you can e-mail me back.

Female Reporter:  Yes, well we definitely will. We'll be in touch …

Lord Cunningham:  Or you can ring me because I'm at home, I'm not going away, I'm at home.

Female Reporter:  Okay, great. Well we've got all your details and everything, haven't we?

Lord Cunningham:  Yes in Northumberland, you know, I've got an acre of garden so if the weather's okay I'll be spending most of my time in the garden or I might get my fishing rods out and go fishing for the day. That will be Wednesday but you wouldn't be able to get me as I am so far into the hills there is no signal but don't hesitate to ring me.

Female Reporter:  Thank you so much. Well we'll probably have a final decision early next week, but we'll keep in touch before then and let you know how it's all going. It's been a really, really good meeting.

Lord Cunningham:  If for any reason you or your colleagues aren't happy about me, no hard feelings, don't let hesitate to say so.

Female Reporter:  That's good of you. Well no, I think it's been a really great meeting.

Lord Cunningham:  Well I'll settle for impressed.

Female Reporter:  Well thank you so much, I'm so glad you could meet with us on such short notice, that's really kind and hope you enjoy the recess.

Lord Cunningham:  [Unclear.]

Female Reporter:  That's perfect, worked out brilliantly.

Lord Cunningham:  Okay.

Female Reporter:  Wonderful. Well …

Lord Cunningham:  Right, good to meet you and you too, Robyn.

Female Reporter:  It was nice to meet you Jack, take care, and we'll see you again soon I hope.

Lord Cunningham:  Yes.

Female Reporter:  Enjoy the fishing.

Lord Cunningham:  You'll contact me when you've got something to tell me?

Female Reporter:  We will do, we'll keep in touch. All right, thank you so much.

Lord Cunningham:  Bye, bye.

Appendix F: Emails between Lord Cunningham of Felling and undercover Sunday Times journalists, 16-31 May 2013

Email from James Lloyd to Lord Cunningham of Felling, 16 May 2013 at 8.19 pm

I hope this finds you well. I'm getting in touch because my company, Coulton & Goldie Global, a Zurich-based strategic consultancy, is setting up a UK operation and we are looking to recruit a select group of expert consultants to support our work. One of our most exciting new projects involves building a European launch strategy for a leading-edge solar technology developer in the far east with the UK as the market entry point, and we feel that your personal business and political acumen could be a great asset to us in bringing this venture to fruition.

The client is developing a range of solar PV nano-cell technologies which represent a bold leap forward and we believe could be a crucial breakthrough in the British government's progress towards meeting its renewable energy and zero carbon homes targets. The consultancy work would take up around a day or possibly two each month with an extremely generous remuneration package including a quarterly bonus.

If this is an opportunity which may interest you, my colleague Robyn Fox and I would welcome the chance to tell you about it face to face. We will be in the UK over the next couple of weeks.

Email from Robyn Fox to Lord Cunningham of Felling, 22 May 2013 at 10.24 am

Thank you so much for your time yesterday—James and I both really enjoyed meeting you. We have since fed back on our conversation to our founding partners, Jennifer and Michael, and unfortunately we were unable to persuade them that your skillset was quite the right fit for the project. While they were as impressed as we were with your political experience, they are keen that we engage a consultant with more specific expertise in the renewable energy sector.

I'm really sorry we can't work together this time but do hope we can keep in touch and wish you all the very best.

Email from Lord Cunningham of Felling to James Lloyd and Robyn Fox, 22 May 2013 at 1.20 pm

I refer to our meeting on Tuesday 21 May when you offered me a role as a remunerated adviser to Coulton & Goldie Global. I have considered your proposal and have decided to decline it. I do not want any further contact with your organisation.

Email from Jonathan Calvert, Insight Editor, Sunday Times, to Lord Cunningham of Felling, 31 May 2013 at 9.12 pm

The Sunday Times is preparing an article for publication this weekend which will contain details of a meeting you had with two representatives of a company called Coulton & Goldie Global on the afternoon of 21 May. The company was offering to hire you to help lobby for new buildings regulations—and other policy changes—which would benefit a solar energy client in South Korea. The two representatives asked you to provide parliamentary advice and services, act as a paid advocate for the South Korean clients in parliament and in your dealings with the government, and to host functions on behalf of the client in the House of Lords.

The provision of such advice and services in return for payment would be a breach of the House of Lords code of conduct and the rules on refreshment department functions.

You told the representatives that you would be happy to do what they asked and requested a fee of £144,000 a year. In exchange for that fee, you offered the following services:

1) You could advise Coulton and Goldie Global, and its client, on parliamentary affairs, and offered the same service to your other clients. 

3) You would use your political connections across the party spectrum in the Lords and Commons to lobby for the company and make introductions.

4) You would be an advocate for the company in parliament.

5) You would arrange introductions to a range of politicians, including ministers, and speak to your contacts on the company's behalf.

6) You would write to ministers and the prime minister on the company's behalf, and had personally lobbied the past two prime ministers on behalf of your clients Siemens and Brookfield PLC.

8) You could ask parliamentary questions for the company and get other people to ask them as well.

9) You could organise functions in the House of Lords, including on the terrace, on the company's behalf to help promote its products.

10) You could help the company set up an all-party parliamentary group on solar energy by recruiting the 20 MPs and peers required to register it, and acting as an officer to the group. The group could be used as a vehicle for lobbying the government and members of the Commons and the Lords.

You said you would declare the consultancy your register of interests and when speaking in the House or writing to ministers in relevant topics. This notwithstanding, the services you were offering would have breached the House of Lords code of conduct, which bans peers from acting as paid advocates, attempting to influence parliament in return for financial reward or offering any parliamentary advice or services for money. You would also be in breach of the rules on refreshment department functions, which ban peers for hosting events for their own, or anyone else's, direct or indirect financial benefit.

The Sunday Times will report your offer to act as a paid advocate and parliamentary advisor and to host functions in the House of Lords  in return for payment, and therefore your willingness to breach the House of Lords' Code of Conduct,  as matters of legitimate public interest and concern. Please respond with any comments you wish to make by 4pm on Saturday at the latest so that we can reflect them fully in our article.

Appendix G: Letter from Lord Cunningham of Felling to the Commissioner, 5 August 2013

I refer to the letter from Nicolas Besly to me of 24 July attaching the transcript. I apologise for the short delay in responding.

Before dealing with the content of the transcript I should mention what you say about how the transcript is to be treated. As you will be aware, the meeting with the undercover Sunday Times journalists has been used to discredit me in the most public and damaging way. My solicitors wrote to The Sunday Times to request a copy of the transcript. However they refused to provide it to me. As they well knew, the absence of the transcript meant that I would be in considerable difficulties both in terms of taking legal advice and responding to your investigation. Their refusal appears to me to be a disgraceful attempt to deny me justice and give a full account of what was said at the meeting. Having now received a copy from you, I trust it is permissible for me take advice upon it and I have provided it to my lawyers for that purpose. They will of course keep the document confidential.

The transcript endorses my recollections which I set out in the document I sent you on 4 July 2013 (prepared without the benefit of seeing the transcript). I am happy to maintain my explanation in that document, to be read in conjunction with the transcript. No doubt you will examine the transcript carefully and I do not intend to make further submissions on it save as to point out the areas that I think may be of importance:

In the Sunday Times stories, no reference is made at all to the nexus between the product/consultancy and my extensive relevant background in science and specifically energy policy and technology. The transcript bears out how important I saw my scientific background as being relevant to their client. It also shows how the journalists encouraged me to see my background as a scientist as being important to my suitability for the position. See pages 17-22, 27-32, 36 and 45-49. The lengthy exchanges concerning my background in science and the utilisation of new technologies for generating energy also reveals my enthusiasm for this field and the product the journalists describe, as I set out in my earlier submissions. It is somewhat embarrassing to read (now knowing the true nature of the meeting) the extent to which I was anxious to demonstrate my expertise. My earlier submissions perhaps under represented the detail the journalists went into about the product and how they first used the term 'game changer' to describe it (I first used the phrase 'step change', then 'game changer'). See pages 28, 36 and 46. The public benefit in this product was fundamental to the whole discussion and it is critical to understanding the nature of the deception here. Not only did they describe a product of enormous public importance that I was bound to be enthusiastic about, they also describe how it could create jobs in the UK to deal with manufacture and supply (page 42).

The extensive discussions about the product and how my background made me suitable for a consultancy in relation to the product also demonstrates how, in the event that it was agreed, I could have advised their client entirely within the rules and the expectations of the House, that members are allowed to have employment outside of Parliament. My expertise and enthusiasm in science and energy, together with my ability to provide advice to the fictitious Korean client on public policy matters, current affairs and the workings of Parliament would have made for a mutually beneficial and entirely permissible consultancy. It would have been possible to make this all clear in any contract and in practice thereafter to ensure that if I was engaged (and had declared the interest) and then was asked to give "parliamentary advice" I could either refuse or, in exceptional circumstances, ensure it was appropriate and make it clear that I would be unremunerated.

The transcript bears out how important I consider the rules of the House and my integrity and adherence to the rules. Pages 52 to 54 may be of particular interest to you here but my references to the rules are contained throughout the transcript. It is evident from the transcript that the journalists were continually attempting to trap me into revealing misdemeanours or indicating an agreement to engage in future wrongdoing. For example, the female reporter attempts to encourage me agree to disguise my appointment by being paid by them via a consultancy. I explain that I would not do so and would still have to declare the interest and then to emphasise the point (page 53) state to the male journalist: "Look, I declare everything James. I always stick exactly to the rules, whatever the rules are. One of the things I haven't really talked about is, I've been in Parliament since 1970, I've never broken the rules". On the next page it records "I've got no blemishes on my record of any type and I would always want to keep it that way". This demonstrates how I had no intention of entering into an agreement or thereafter working in a way that would jeopardise my record for integrity. Even if, during the conversation, I am led into areas in the conversation at other stages where they suggest work that may fall outside of the rules, the fact is that I would not have broken the rules and the transcript demonstrates that they should have been clear that I would only agree to work within the rules. The conversation on page 59 is also notable in this respect in that it demonstrates that the female journalist is prepared to indicate how she, like me, "wouldn't want to", be involved in wrongdoing (I think that is a fair analysis of the context of her use of that phrase) when in fact her sole reason for speaking to me was to encourage me to agree to such conduct.

What I say in relation to their proposal for an APPG is illustrative of the way that, whilst I am being led into dangerous territory by the journalists, I would not have done anything to have breached the rules. On page 50 I explain how there are rules concerning APPGs and that I would give the rules to them to check. On page 63 again I refer to the need for them to check the rules on the issue.

I describe in my earlier submissions that no deal was done during the conversation of 21 May 2013. The transcript confirms this to be the case. On page 22 it is recorded that I ask who I would be contracting with. On page 24 it is recorded that I emphasise how necessary it would be for me to meet with their fictitious client before contracting with them (they say that I would be put forward as a 'candidate' at any such meeting). On page 59 I refer to the need for a contract to contain what was to be agreed. This was said within the context of making it clear that there would be no "wrongdoing", as I was able to demonstrate in the investigation into my relationship with the City of London Corporation. It should be noted that the transcript of what I say on this page is incomplete on this important point and I am generally concerned that the transcript is not a full and entirely accurate record. In the final few pages of the transcript it records a discussion whereby I would email my CV for their consideration before a decision is made. The important point here is that the conversation of 21 May 2013 cannot be considered an account of what I would actually do or even agree to do. The conversation was a first meeting after which further discussions and meetings would take place (if it were a real consultancy), the relevant rules would be reviewed and then a contract would be drawn up and negotiated. My repeated references to the rules showed how important I considered them to be and I would have checked that anything I contracted to do, and thereafter did do, would be within those rules.

I mention in my submissions that it is not my purpose to criticise the journalism which brought about this situation. I must however draw your attention to the decision of Mr Justice Tugendhat in Cruddas v (1) Jonathan Calvert (2) Heidi Slake (3) Times Newspapers Limited ([2013] EWHC 2298 (OS) 31 July 2013). You will be aware that the first and second defendants in this successful case are the same two journalists who were involved in my case, and it also involves the same publication. Mr Calvert and Ms Slake of the Sunday Times "Insight" team are heavily criticised in the judgment for the way they conducted the entrapment by use of subterfuge and are found to have acted in malice. The High Court Judge described the investigation as "fishing for evidence" using leading questions to provoke Mr Cruddas into saying things they set out to lure him into saying. It is also notable that the Judge identifies that Ms Slake has been found to have contravened the PCC code on subterfuge before the Cruddas case (in the case of Vince Cable and the Daily Telegraph) but when questioned in Court she stubbornly refused to accept the validity of that decision. I think that the situation has clear parallels with my case. When the journalists arranged the meeting with me they were determined to do me harm, and as with Mr Cruddas, whilst they are likely to have been disappointed with many of my responses to their leading questions (in particular as to how I insisted on registering my interest and generally adhering to the rules) they were determined to publish using phrases to criticise me despite the fact that much of the transcript would. Have shown me in an entirely different light than the articles they published. I attach a link to the Cruddas judgment to this letter and commend to you in particular paragraphs 52, 153, 264-278.

On the topic of the journalists it is also necessary to point out how (page 15) they seek a mutual obligation of confidentiality. It is perhaps an indication of the level of dishonesty on their part that they should ask me to confirm a willingness to keep the meeting confidential, and are happy to commit to do so themselves, whilst secretly recording the meeting with the intention of publishing it in a Sunday newspaper.

I have mentioned previously how I became suspicious of the journalists. One part of the transcript that led to my suspicion, that I had not previously recalled, is where I describe that my son works in public affairs (page 16). I mention the well-known firms that he has worked for but neither journalist seems to know much or anything about them. This struck me as being odd. As I described, my abrupt demand of £12k (page 71) was an attempt to test their credibility and whilst their response also made me suspicious at no time was f sufficiently confident to challenge them. The day after the meeting I did of course act on my suspicion by reporting them to the House of Lords Authorities and emailing my rejection of their proposal as I have already described.

I maintain that this one-off opportunistic newspaper premeditated deception is not a sound basis to find me in contravention of the rules of the House. If there is any part of the transcript, my submissions or this letter that you think requires further explanation then please do not hesitate to contact me.

As you know my home is in Northumberland. I am not normally in London in August or September and I do have family holiday commitments. However if you wish to see me I shall make myself available.

I attach a reference to The High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division case before the Honourable Mr Justice Tugendhat between Peter Cruddas and (1) Jonathan Calvert, (2) Heidi Blake, (3) Times Newspapers Ltd [not printed].

Appendix H: Commissioner for Standards interview with Lord Cunningham of Felling, 1 October 2013

The Commissioner for Standards: Lord Cunningham, thank you for agreeing to this interview. This interview is being recorded and a transcript will be produced. You will be sent a copy of the transcript and given the opportunity to correct any errors and/or to add to anything that you have said. This transcript will be appended to my report on your case, but will not be published until the Committee for Privileges and Conduct reports on the case. I note that you are accompanied and I will in a moment ask your lawyer to identify herself for the benefit of the tape. I should highlight that paragraph 117 of the Guide to the Code of Conduct makes it clear that every effort is made to keep proceedings informal. If a member is accompanied, then they are free to consult their companion, but they will be expected to answer for themselves any question put to them. If you wish to consult off the record, please indicate that to me and I will switch the recording device off.

On 1 June 2013, you referred yourself to me for investigation following notice that articles would be published in the Sunday Times the following day alleging that you had breached the code of conduct in respect of a meeting between you and two undercover journalists on 21 May 2013. I obtained the agreement of the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct to proceed to investigate your self-referral. On 4 July, you sent me a statement based on your recollections of the meeting with the undercover journalists. On 24 July, I provided you with a copy of the transcript, provided by the Sunday Times, of your conversation with its undercover journalists. You replied on 5 August 2013 with a further submission based on the transcript.

In this interview, I will primarily refer to the transcript of your conversation with the undercover journalists. Page numbers refer to the page numbers of the transcript as provided by the Sunday Times. The objective of this interview is to seek clarification about some points which arise in the transcript. I intend first to ask you about a proposed all-party group; then about the alleged provision of parliamentary advice and parliamentary services; then about Refreshment Department functions; and finally about a previous investigation of the Sub-Committee on Lords Conduct. In dealing with each of these themes, the page references will jump around a little. If at any point I am proceeding too quickly, please just say so.

At this stage, I think we will just identify ourselves for the benefit of the tape. My name is Paul Kernaghan. I am the Lords Commissioner for Standards.

Nicolas Besly: I am Nicolas Besly, the clerk who assists the Commissioner.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: I am Jack Cunningham, also known as Lord Cunningham of Felling.

Amy Bradbury: I am Amy Bradbury from Collyer Bristow.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you. Are there any points, Lord Cunningham, that you would like to make at the outset, or shall we proceed straight to the questions?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: With your agreement, Mr Kernaghan, I will make a brief statement—it will be very brief.

I am in these circumstances, for the first time in my career of more than 40 years in public office, because I was invited to discuss with people a proposed consultancy with a Korean science and technology cluster. That was an attractive proposition to me, given my background as a scientist and former Energy Minister, and as someone with a long interest in energy policy issues of all kinds.

Of course, it emerged that the whole thing was a premeditated deception. Although I met these people only once and subsequently reported myself to the Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Lords, the Labour Chief Whip, the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Registrar of Lords' Interests, in addition to you yourself, and rejected these proposals the very next day in an e-mail, 10 days later the Sunday Times published its article which was, as had been the intention at the outset, aimed at causing me and Parliament as much damage as it could. That is the background to the situation that we are in. Had I known and had I realised earlier—perhaps I should have done—that the aim of the journalists was, as it was, to seek a meeting to achieve their premeditated objective of causing me damage, then we may not have been in this situation. But we are where we are and, as I have said from the outset, both to the House authorities and to you, I am willing to answer any questions you wish to put to me. I repeat again my apology. I am aware that these events have caused Parliament harm, as well as me, and for that I apologise.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you very much, Lord Cunningham. If we can address the agenda I sketched out, I would like to look first at the concept of the proposed all-party group. If you would turn to page 49 of the transcript, at the top of the page the female reporter says that they would like to set up an all-party group on solar energy, which "could be effectively lobbying for changes in the rules that might harness the technology that we can offer". Then, in the middle of page 51, the female reporter asks if you would be chairman of the group. You say that you would not rule that out. Then, in the middle of page 61, the female reporter asks about the all-party group being "a kind of lobbying platform". You reply, "It's a sensible idea". Then, on pages 73 to 74, you give advice about how soon an APG could be set up.

Did you have any concerns about whether it was appropriate to set up an APG on behalf of a commercial interest, regardless of the role that you might play in it?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: As this conversation developed, Mr Kernaghan, I became increasingly concerned and suspicious about the real aims and objectives of the people I was meeting. As you have pointed out, they seemed more intent on talking about mechanisms within Parliament and the House of Lords than they were about the Korean technology cluster, which was the principal or sole purpose for which I had shown interest. I explained to them that it was possible to set up all-party parliamentary groups, but of course they cannot act as lobbying organisations or as an advocate for a particular company or product. I pointed out to them that there were rules governing the conduct of all-party parliamentary groups. At a point in this discussion, which they persisted with, I said that it would be inappropriate for me to be chair of the group in the circumstances where I was employed by their clients, the technology cluster. I said that it would not be appropriate. I also said, I believe, that there were rules governing the operation of these groups. I told them I had a copy of the rules on my desk—I have a copy here—and that I would only act within the rules. If I can refer you to page 50 of the transcript, at the very foot of the page I said, "There are rules". On page 53, I made it very clear to them when I said, "I always stick exactly to the rules, whatever the rules are. One of the things I haven't really talked about is, I've been in Parliament since 1970, I've never broken the rules". Never broken the rules. "Nobody's ever sustained a claim against me about wrongful misconduct in the House of Lords"; that also applies to the House of Commons. I am very careful of my reputation and conduct, and I go on to say—I believe it is the very next page, 54—"I've got no blemishes on my record of any type and I would always want to keep it that way". So, in spite of this conversation going on—and I accept what you say, that it went on and on; they were very persistent about it—I left them in no doubt that I was never going to act outside the rules.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you for that. I have, not surprisingly, looked at the rules governing the creation of an APG. Interestingly, they are House of Commons rules but everybody accepts that the House of Commons rules apply throughout both Houses.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Well, because members of both Houses are allowed to join.

The Commissioner for Standards: Indeed. In fact, I think it is a requirement. I am interested in your views here. The way I read it, you could have an APG created for, let us say, something incredibly worthwhile: children's cancer. An APG could be created by like-minded people in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords to agitate or to study that subject in depth. Equally, it is foreseen within the rules that you could create an APG, let us say, in respect of soccer, association football, perhaps even in support of a particular club, because it is a gathering. While some of it may be very serious, high-minded and in pursuit of the parliamentary function, equally, it can be an association of like-minded colleagues from the two Houses. Do you think that it is or would be appropriate for an APG to be created at the behest of a commercial interest, even if it was not then solely operating as a lobbyist? You have highlighted that you do not think that it would be appropriate for it to act as a lobbyist for a particular company. I am interested: do you feel that it would be appropriate to create an APG not because one of your colleagues has said "We have a like-minded interest", be it in children's cancer or in a recreational activity, but because a company has said that it would be a good idea to create an APG?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: My understanding of what they were proposing was that they wanted to create, or they proposed to create, an all-party parliamentary group on solar energy, not on the basis of a company or a product—indeed, that would not be within the rules. I think there are more than 400 all-party parliamentary groups in Parliament. I am a member of two or three. Indeed, as I pointed out to them, I helped to create the all-party parliamentary group on shooting and conservation, working with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. I was the first chair of the group and I am still vice-chair of the group. That was created to focus on issues surrounding the sport of shooting—a perfectly proper thing to do. There is—and I pointed this out in the discussion—already an all-party parliamentary group on energy studies. I was curious to know why they wanted another one. They were persistent about it. It is possible to create, as far as I can tell within the rules, an all-party parliamentary group on solar energy. It would not be possible to create an all-party parliamentary group based on a single company or a cluster of companies and their particular product. Nor would members of any such a group allow it to be used as a lobbying organisation or as an advocate for a particular product or a particular company. The members of a group, if formed, just would not allow that to happen.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you for that. If I can move on, I now want to look at what I would loosely describe as alleged provision of parliamentary advice and parliamentary services. If I could invite you to look initially at the bottom of page 38 of the transcript. At the bottom of page 38, can I—

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Can you just give me a moment to find that, please? Page 38. Right, got it.

The Commissioner for Standards: At the bottom of page 38, the female reporter says they are looking for someone who understands—I quote—"the different mechanisms like the all-party groups for example or things like select committees … and basically just become an advisor and kind of something of an advocate". You reply, "Yes. None of that is a difficulty", and then you go on to refer to your experience in Parliament. Then if you could look at the middle of page 21—

Nicolas Besly: 41.

The Commissioner for Standards: 41. Thank you, Nicolas. In the middle of page 41 you said, "Well I would advise you on parliamentary, local government, business affairs". Did you have any concerns about whether offering advice on parliamentary affairs on behalf of a client would be within the rules?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Yes, I did, and I was concerned throughout. I have already made three references to my determination in my record of sticking to the rules, but the transcript contains many references by me about sticking to the rules. When I talked about those issues, I had very much in mind the Code of Conduct and the Guide, which says—and I am quoting from it—"The following is not parliamentary advice: advice on public policy and current affairs; advice in general terms about how Parliament works", and then it goes on to mention media appearances. I am very conscious of the rules and I repeatedly made it clear that I would only act within the rules. I might add to that, if I am allowed, Mr Kernaghan, this. I was engaged—indeed, I was enthusiastic in the beginning—about the idea that I might be working with a science and technology cluster based in Korea. Those of us who are interested in science policy and research in science and technology know that there are vast investments taking place in Korea in science and technology, hence the success of companies like Samsung, for example. That was my primary purpose in meeting these people. Had this been real, had this been honest and not a deception, my purpose would have been to advise them about the development of science and technology, about opportunities in Britain and Europe. I would not have been paid to be helping them to try to promote their product in the House of Lords, nor would I have attempted to do so.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you. If I could then draw your attention of the bottom of page 59. At the bottom of page 59 you say—I quote—"So opening doors yes I mean that's going, that's going to be one of the big things in this". Then if you could look at page 69, please—it is about half-way down the page—you say, "there's no reason why—if we should work together—I shouldn't write to the appropriate secretary of state or to the Prime Minister and say, look, this is something I think you should look at". Did you have any concerns about whether offering to make introductions and write letters to ministers on behalf of a paying client was within the rules?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Yes, I did have concerns about that, and I repeat what I said. Their persistent questioning on these issues led to my increasing suspicion of what their real aims and objectives were, but of course, I repeat, on the same page where we began this discussion—that is page 59—I said to them, "I have never … had any question of wrongdoing against me and I wouldn't", meaning I would not contemplate having any wrongdoing or questions against me about wrongdoing. I am not that kind of person. Perhaps I can put this as carefully as I can. I have in more than 40 years in Parliament and, before that, six years in local government never had any question of wrongdoing raised against me that was legitimate. And I was determined—and I repeated this throughout—to maintain my integrity. So if they had asked me to do something which was a transgression of the rules, I simply would not have done it. I tried throughout this two-hour discussion, which was the only meeting I had with these people, to make it abundantly clear to them that that was my position. I repeat what the rules or the Code say: "advice on public policy and current affairs; advice in general terms about how Parliament works". Anything within the ambit of those rules is legitimate. Anything outside the ambit of those rules is not legitimate.

The Commissioner for Standards: Yes. Could I focus in on the particular? I accept that and I also note the references you have made to abiding by the rules in the transcript of the interview. But could I ask you: do you feel, in respect of that, it would be appropriate if you were working for this company to actually write to the appropriate Secretary of State or to the Prime Minister?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Well, if there was a policy issue, it would be permissible. If it was a question of saying, "Please adopt this technology" or "Please adopt this product", it is unthinkable. If, for example, there was a policy issue with respect to, say, legislation before the House where one wanted to ask questions, then a letter to the Secretary of State would be perfectly legitimate to clarify what the Government's intentions were. But simply to write to someone to promote a company or a product would not be legitimate unless one had been asked to do so.

The Commissioner for Standards: I will put a proposition to you. Feel free to reject it or amend it. In the light of what you said in the transcript and in the light of what you have just said by way of clarification, would it be fair or unfair to characterise your position as being that you would feel happy to write to the Secretary of State or the Prime Minister about a general policy issue in, let us say, the solar energy field but you would not have felt comfortable writing and saying, "Should we make it mandatory that windows should have a 75% solar energy benefit"?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: No. I do not want to be obscure here.

The Commissioner for Standards: No, please. It is very important that at all times you are satisfied that you are conveying your mind to me.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Yes. I just do not want you to think I am misinterpreting the question. I repeat what I have said: to act as—to use their words—an advocate of a particular company or product would not be appropriate, and I have never done that. I have worked for some very large international companies as an adviser, sometimes as a non-executive director. I have never acted in the way that the question may imply and nor would I do so. I have raised issues of policy, of course, as people do. People raise issues of policy in the chamber of the House of Lords and they declare an interest, if they have an interest, quite properly. I have never raised a question—ever—on behalf of a company or an organisation I have worked for where I had a financial interest. I have never ever done it, nor in general do I think it is appropriate to do that, and the record will bear me out on that.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you for that. If I could again draw your attention to the bottom of page 69—

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Yes.

The Commissioner for Standards: A female reporter asks if you can ask questions in Parliament. You reply—I quote—"Yes, as long as I declare the interest yes, but, you know, we can get other people to ask questions as well". The female reporter says, "Really?" and you replied—"Oh yes, that's perfectly allowed". Why did you say that you can get others to ask questions? Because to be quite frank with you, that highlights if you declare an interest—I think you have already covered that—that you can ask certain questions. You have said that you would never ask questions, and never have asked questions, for any company with which you have a financial relationship but "we can get other people to ask questions as well".

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Well, if there was, for example, a meeting about solar power at which members were present, that may provoke them to ask questions. I am not suggesting for one moment that I would be walking the corridors of the House of Lords trying to persuade other members of the House of Lords to ask questions for a company that I was engaged with. I have never ever done that on my own account and I certainly would not ask other people to do it. But in the course of pursuing policy issues, maybe at a round-table discussion or a dinner, or some industry event, if people meet and say, "This is an interesting question", members may go and table a question about it. But I was not suggesting for a moment—indeed, if you think that is the way it reads, I apologise—that I personally would act on behalf of a company or client to persuade other members to ask questions.

The Commissioner for Standards: You have recognised my concern in the course of your response. I take your point that if all four of us attended a seminar and then were in a forum to ask questions, it would not be surprising if, shall we say, the four of us asked slightly different questions but perhaps about the topic of the lecture that we had all attended. But in the quotation that I have shared with you—"we can get other people to ask questions as well"—that does seem proactive in context.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: I repeat what I have said, Mr Kernaghan: I have never acted in that way before—the way that perhaps some people would interpret this—and I had no intention of doing so. Indeed, I come back to what I said at the very outset of this discussion. I was interested in being an adviser to a technology group. I was not there to inveigle these people—these people who perpetrated this deception on me—into the inner workings of the House of Lords. I did not see that as my role at all, nor would I have accepted payment for such a role.

The Commissioner for Standards: Just to clarify and, in a sense, deal with this particular point specifically, do you think it is within the rules to approach another member to ask a question on behalf of a commercial organisation in which you have a financial interest?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: No. And even if it was, I repeat: I would not do it.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you for that. If we can move on now, can I draw your attention to page 66, please? In the middle of page 66 you raise the possibility of hosting a reception in Parliament on behalf of the client. You say you could book it for them and give advice on when to hold receptions, who to invite and the format, et cetera. Did you have any concerns about whether holding a function in Parliament on behalf of a client in which you would have a financial interest is within the rules?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: I did and I made it clear to them, again, that there were rules governing such functions and activities. I knew that very well because for the one and only time that I have been in the House of Lords, I had hosted a function for someone who was not a client of mine—not in any sense connected with any remuneration, but I had hosted a function and I knew there were rules. I knew that one had to communicate with the authorities and do it to the rules provided and spelled out so if this matter had arisen, I would have acted in exactly the same way. I would have approached the facilities office and considered the rules, and if they had said it was inappropriate for me as an employee of a company to host the function then I would not have done so. But I knew very well that there were rules and I referred to them. It is mentioned in the transcript.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you for that. I then want to move on to look at the issue of a previous investigation by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests. If I could your attention to pages 57 to 59 of the transcript—

Lord Cunningham of Felling: 57 to 59. Yes, I have it.

The Commissioner for Standards: Good. On pages 57 to 59, you talk about an investigation by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests, as it was then called, which eventually cleared you of any wrongdoing.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Indeed.

The Commissioner for Standards: At the bottom of page 58 and at the top of page 59, you give the impression that you considered the sub-committee's report in draft and had a chance to approve it. Was that the case?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Yes, it was. Oh well—excuse me—which sub-committee draft are you referring to, Mr Kernaghan?

The Commissioner for Standards: Well, I will go to—

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Because the first sub-committee report was withdrawn. I have not had time to read all of this on these pages but I objected to the first sub-committee report and it was withdrawn. A new committee was formed. They then investigated the matter again and they produced a report which exonerated me, so I had no problem with that report.

The Commissioner for Standards: Because it is important and I want to make sure that we have both got a clear understanding of the facts, and then you can clarify, if we go to page 57 about half way down there is a large section from yourself in the transcript.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Yes. I referred to Lord Woolf.

The Commissioner for Standards: Right, he chaired the sub-committee—Lord Woolf—"and he produced the draft report. I said I want to see him at his request, and he and the Registrar were sitting … He said, well what have you got to say about this? I said, well the short answer, the polite answer is it's nonsense. The truth is the whole thing's a pack of lies. You know, and he started questioning me as though I was a defendant in court, I said look I'm not going to sit here and be cross-examined and feel guilty for something I haven't done. I said, you've seen all the evidence and he said, well I can't be sure I've seen all the evidence. I said, but what other evidence is there to see. So he, Woolf, was obviously hostile to me, I don't know why, it's the first time I spoke to the guy in my life. So he produced this draft report which he said, very clearly. He said, well I've met Lord"—unclear in the transcript—"and he questions him and he appears to be telling the truth".

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Yes, that was what I objected to.

The Commissioner for Standards: So had allegations been put to you by either a hearing of a sub-committee or by Lord Woolf on behalf of a sub-committee, and were you invited basically to give your version of events?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Let me explain what this was about, Mr Kernaghan.

The Commissioner for Standards: Please.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: I was appointed an adviser to the Corporation of the City of London. I reported to the chairman of their policy and resources committee and I briefed the Lord Mayor of London from time to time. This complaint against me, which was made by a person in the House of Commons, was based on the allegation in the Guardian newspaper that I and the City Corporation had tried to hide from public view the fact that I had been appointed. Now, the fact that I had been appointed was the subject of a statement by the Corporation of the City of London. It is absurd to even believe that a body as important and as rigorous as the Corporation of the City of London would try to hide something away from the public. It is a public corporation. It acts transparently and my appointment was on the record, including with the newspaper which made this allegation. They received a copy, like every other newspaper, of the press announcement of my appointment. It was on the Corporation of the City of London's website that I had been appointed. The allegation—the complaint made against me—incidentally broke the rules because the complainant should have approached me first under the then rules but did not and made a complaint to the Registrar of Lords' Interests, who in turn reported it to Lord Woolf. There was no substance in this allegation at all. It was literally incredible. For that to result in a report—a draft report—saying that I appeared to be telling the truth, I regarded as insulting. I was very angry about it, I don't mind telling you.

The Commissioner for Standards: Right.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: The thing should have been dismissed, as it eventually was, out of hand. Having been shown the draft report by the Registrar of Lords' Interests, I objected to this wording. There was a refusal to change it. I then went to see the then Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Ashton of Upholland. I saw the Clerk of the Parliaments and I saw the Chairman of Committees, and told them I simply was not prepared to accept this. A new sub-committee was formed and the matter was looked at again—as I said, Lord Irvine of Lairg was handling the report—and I was totally exonerated, as I should have been in the first place. That is what that is all about. Now, I may not have used the best of language—perhaps I should not even have raised the matter at all—but I was intent on pointing out to these people that I never did anything wrong, that I did not break the rules and acted within the rules, that I acted with integrity and that I was determined to safeguard my reputation.

The Commissioner for Standards: That comes over very clearly, in a sense, reading the transcript of the interview with the undercover journalists. Obviously the Guardian ran the story which you objected to. I think you have highlighted that it was not factually accurate because there was a press notice. In fact, I think you highlight that the Guardian actually had a copy of that press notice.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: That is right.

The Commissioner for Standards: Or it was sent to the Guardian, so in a sense, they are saying it is X, but they knew it was Y because they had a press release saying Y.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Look, let me be absolutely frank about this and be fair to the person who made the complaint against me. I have never met him and do not know him. He is a member of the House of Commons; indeed, he is a minister. He may well have been misled by the Guardian. He may well have been duped by the journalists.

The Commissioner for Standards: Are you trying to suggest that we should not believe everything that is published in newspapers?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Something like that. He may have been misled; I do not know. I have never had a conversation with him about it. But I was perfectly justified in being very angry about what happened and the way it was originally handled.

The Commissioner for Standards: I accept that. My concern, Lord Cunningham, is, I think, probably self-evident. I accept the factual situation you have outlined. You have highlighted your language, but coming to this fresh, it is obvious that you were the subject of a complaint under the processes that were then in place in the House of Lords. There has been a suggestion—quite explicit from yourself—that you were given a draft report and you objected to it. You have highlighted that very clearly. You felt that it was—it is my term, not yours—it is obvious that you felt that it was a slur on your character and your integrity.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Indeed.

The Commissioner for Standards: Then, the way I am reading this, after having seen that draft and objecting to it in very strong terms, the sub-committee—to use your term—is sacked. There is a new sub-committee empanelled—created—and then you again get another draft which, "I said, yes, okay, you draft your report, Derry, and I will consider it with you and if I approve it"—a long sentence is unclear in the transcript—"I said you can introduce them". I am just trying to figure out was that in compliance with the procedures as they then were in place because, coming to it fresh, it seems almost that there is a report and you almost have a veto on the content of the report, or you are suggesting that you have a veto on the content of the report.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: No. Far from it, if I may say so.

The Commissioner for Standards: Please.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: There is no sense of me having a veto. I was in both cases informally shown the draft reports. On the first one—I am repeating myself—I objected strenuously to some of the wording. We have already touched on that. In the second case, I was shown an entirely different report, a much more, if I may say, systematic and analytical report of what had happened, and it was perfectly agreeable to me, but if I gave the impression in talking to these people that I personally had some kind of veto over the procedures of the Lords, well then that was not my intention, and I certainly do not believe I would have had a veto over it. Had the second report been critical of me, I would have had to accept it.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you. If I can change documents, in your second submission dated 5 August, you say that you thought the transcript is incomplete in respect of this particular point. Do you recall what you feel was not shown on the transcript?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: I think—and I said this to you, I believe—that I was not convinced the transcript was a full and accurate record of what took place. I am conscious that there are some omissions from it, but I am not sure to which bit of my second submission you are actually referring. You mentioned my letter to you of 5 August.

The Commissioner for Standards: Correct.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: Which I have here, where I say on page 3, "I am generally concerned that the transcript is not a full and entirely accurate record".

The Commissioner for Standards: What I will do, Lord Cunningham, we will get Hansard to create a transcript from the electronic record of your interview. We will share that. We will give you a copy of that and invite you. It may be that there is nothing significant, it could be that there is something significant, but I am really keen that you do not feel that you are being interviewed or assessed on the basis of a transcript you query.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: I am not suggesting that, Mr Kernaghan, and I am not accusing you or Mr Besly or anyone else of doing anything wrong. I am perfectly happy. I am content for you to proceed on the basis of what we have. I am not suggesting anything other than that. I accept it. I could identify one or two omissions from the transcript, but it would not make any different, I believe, to your inquiry or to the outcome. What I am referring to in particular, in one place, is a very strong reaction of mine to a question put to me by the male reporter about me being paid by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation for helping them create an all-party group, and I strongly told him that the British Association for Shooting and Conservation had an impeccable record, it was the foremost organisation of its kind in this country, its president is a very famous person and none of them would ever dream of doing anything wrong at all, of any kind, let alone paying a parliamentarian to help them create a group, and it is not in the transcript. But that is just one. There are a few others, but I am perfectly happy for you to proceed on the basis of what we have.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you for that. It is much appreciated. Nicolas, are there any questions or points you feel that I have overlooked?

Nicolas Besly: No, thank you.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you. They are all the questions I wish to put to you. I am grateful for your co-operation, Lord Cunningham. Do you wish to say anything or are you happy to terminate the interview at this point?

Lord Cunningham of Felling: I will make a few, brief concluding remarks, if I may.

The Commissioner for Standards: Please.

Lord Cunningham of Felling: I want to begin by reiterating that I was attracted to this discussion, which is all it was, of course. Nothing was agreed, nothing was concluded, nothing was signed, and, of course, I realised shortly afterwards that the thing was a deception, but I was attracted to it, as I have emphasised, on the basis of my long record in science and technology and energy policy issues. I am a qualified scientist, as I think I made clear to you in my submission. It became obvious to me during this discussion that these two people were trying to lead me into commitments to act outside the rules and the code of conduct of the House, and they were willing to go to quite extraordinary lengths to try to achieve that. I repeatedly emphasised my commitment to proper conduct and to acting within the rules. The transcript we are looking at should be read in that context, in the context of my attempts to emphasise the importance of adherence to the rules. I was dealing with people who, in the words of Justice Tugendhat—and I referred you to the case—acted not only with lies and deception but with malice. The advice I envisaged giving was legitimate consultancy advice and limited advice on how Parliament works in general and on policy and to do that within the rules.

My work in Parliament over more than 40 years has always been driven by what is in the public interest. I reported this matter the very next day to Parliament in the public interest. I thought Parliament should be aware of how I had been deceived. The intention was not just to damage me, of course, but to damage Parliament. I had no hesitation in doing that. The experience I have had is beyond any measure the worst experience of my whole public career. My reputation has been damaged, my credibility has been undermined. I am very distressed about that, as you can imagine, as are my family and my friends. It has not only damaged me, it has damaged the House of Lords. I have apologised for that, and I conclude my remarks by profoundly and unreservedly apologising again.

The Commissioner for Standards: Thank you very much.


1   House Committee, Refreshment Department Functions (3rd report, session 2008-09, HL Paper 144); House Committee, Rules Governing the Use of Facilities (2nd report, session 2009-10, HL Paper 47). Back

2   Committee for Privileges, The Conduct of Lord Moonie, Lord Snape, Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn (2nd report, session 2008-09, HL Paper 88). Back

3   LJ (2008-09) 537. Back

4   Op. cit., paras 15-24. Back

5   Paragraph 8(c) and (d). Back

6   Second edition: November 2011. Back

7   Op. cit., para 30. Back

8   Para 119. Back

9   Op. cit., para 11. Back

10   See Committee for Privileges and Conduct, The Conduct of Lord Dannatt (3rd report, session 2013-14, HL Paper 20); and Committee for Privileges and Conduct, The Conduct of Lord Stirrup (4th report, session 2013-14, HL Paper 21). Back

11   Cruddas v Calvert, Blake and Times Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWHC 2298 (QB). Back

12   Appendix E, page 68. Back

13   Appendix E, page 69. Back

14   House Committee, Refreshment Department Functions (3rd report, session 2008-09, HL Paper 144); House Committee, Rules Governing the Use of Facilities (2nd report, session 2009-10, HL Paper 47). Back

15   House Committee, Rules Governing the Use of Facilities (2nd report, session 2009-10, HL Paper 47), page 4. Back

16   House Committee, Refreshment Department Functions (3rd report, session 2008-09, HL Paper 144), page 4. Back

17   Appendix E, page 90. Back

18   Appendix E, pages 90-91. Back

19   Appendix D, page 38. Back

20   Appendix H, page 111. Back

21   These statements are considered later in this report. Back

22   See Committee for Privileges, The Conduct of Lord Moonie, Lord Snape, Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn (2nd report, session 2008-09, HL Paper 88), para 30. Back

23   See: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/pcfs/all-party-groups/guide-to-the-rules-on-apgs.pdf Back

24   Appendix E, page 68. Back

25   Appendix E, page 77. Back

26   Appendix E, page 78. Back

27   Appendix E, page 79. Back

28   Appendix E, page 79. Back

29   Appendix E, page 79. Back

30   Appendix E, page 86. Back

31   Appendix E, page 87. Back

32   Appendix E, pages 69-70. Back

33   Appendix E, page 71. Back

34   Appendix E, page 85. Back

35   Appendix E, page 86. Back

36   Appendix E, page 92. Back

37   Appendix E, page 93. Back

38   Appendix D, page 38. Back

39   Appendix H, page 108. Lord Cunningham was referring to paragraph 19 of the Guide. Back

40   Appendix H, page 109. Back

41   Appendix H, page 110. Back

42   Appendix H, page 110. Back

43   These statements are considered later in this report. Back

44   Appendix E, page 83. Back

45   Appendix E, pages 84-85. Back

46   Appendix H, page 112. Back

47   Appendix H, page 113. Back

48   Committee for Privileges, The Code of Conduct: procedure for considering complaints against Members (4th report, 2007-08, HL Paper 205). Back

49   LJ (2008-09) 63. Back

50   Committee for Privileges, The conduct of Lord Cunningham of Felling (3rd report, 2008-09, HL Paper 154). The Privileges Committee's covering report sets out the chronology. Back

51   Paragraph 21 of the Code now bars a member from lobbying a member of the Committee for Privileges and Conduct or the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct in a manner calculated or intended to influence their consideration of a complaint. Back

52   In a 2010 report the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct found that a member's statements that she would be bound by the Code were relevant to the sub-committee's finding that the member had not entered into an agreement to provide parliamentary advice or services in return for payment: see Committee for Privileges and Conduct, The Conduct of Baroness Morgan of Huyton (3rd report, 2010-12, HL Paper 29), para 19. Back

53   Appendix E, page 80. Back

54   Appendix E, page 81. Back

55   Committee for Privileges, The Conduct of Lord Moonie, Lord Snape, Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn (2nd report, session 2008-09, HL Paper 88), para 11. Back

56   Appendix D, page 41. Back

57   Appendix H, page 115. Back


 
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