23 February 2015

Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 Dispatches launched an undercover investigation of Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary. The reporters posed as representatives of a Hong Kong based communication agency which was seeking to hire senior British politician to be on its advisory board. The meetings were secretly recorded by the journalists.

In one meeting Mr Straw said that he had influenced the European Union rules to favour a commodity company which paid him GBP 60,000 a year. He also claimed that he influenced the Ukrainian government to change its laws to favour the same commodities company.

The meetings were said to have taken place in the House of Commons Offices.  This is a breach of Commons rules.

Straw voluntarily suspended himself from the Labour party and agreed to refer himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

He had declared on the register of MPs’ interests that he was a consultant to ED&F Man, a British firm which owns a sugar refinery in the Mykolaiv region of southern Ukraine. ED&F Man wanted EU rules changed so that a sugar beet crop itself, rather than raw beet sugar, was named as the “equivalent” to raw cane sugar.

Straw says that whatever he did was in full compliance with MPs’ code of conduct. At that time he talked to the undercover reporters, he expected to be appointed to the House of Lords. He claims that he told the reporters what he would do after his retirement from the Parliament.

Straw has the backing of Toni Blair, who said that he was really sorry that Straw has been caught up in a sting operation about a job offer after he retires from Parliament.