Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tim Yeo to step aside amid probe into committee coaching claim

Conservative MP Tim Yeo is to stand aside as chairman of a committee while claims he used the role to help a private company influence Parliament are being investigated.

The MP rejects suggestions he coached a businessman employed by a firm with which he has financial links on what to say in evidence to the committee.

But Mr Yeo said he did not want the probe to "distract" its work.

Labour had said it was "difficult to see" how Mr Yeo could have continued.

Mr Yeo, chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, was secretly filmed by Sunday Times investigators posing as representatives of a fictional energy company seeking to hire his services.


In the recording, he appears to suggest that he told a businessman what to say to his committee before the businessman appeared before MPs last month.

'Smooth running'
At the meeting, Mr Yeo publicly excused himself from questioning GB Railfreight managing director John Smith because of his acknowledged conflict of interest as a non-executive director and shareholder in its parent firm Eurotunnel.

Mr Yeo's work for the company is declared in the MPs' register of financial interests and he mentioned it at the start of the committee hearing into the bio-energy industry.

Excerpts from The Sunday Times secret recording
But in the secret recording, the MP claims what he did for GB Railfreight "in private was another matter altogether" and he "was able to tell him (Mr Smith) in advance what he should say".

Mr Yeo, who has referred himself to the parliamentary standards commissioner, has said he had chatted briefly with Mr Smith five days before the hearing during a visit to one of the firm's freight trains.

But he has "absolutely and unreservedly" denied the suggestion that he had told him what to say.

The BBC's political correspondent Chris Mason said momentum had been building for Mr Yeo to step aside ahead of a meeting of the committee on Tuesday - with Labour making it clear they would no longer support him.

In a statement, Mr Yeo said he had taken the decision to temporarily relinquish his post "solely to ensure the smooth running of the committee during the next few weeks".

He added: "I firmly believe that I have not breached the MPs' code of conduct in any respect and therefore await the outcome of the commissioner's investigation with confidence.

"I do not wish the commissioner's investigation to be a distraction from the committee's important work. I believe that during the past three years the committee has been extremely effective and I want this to continue."


'Serious questions'
Before Mr Yeo made the announcement, Labour said he was facing "serious" questions about his conduct and allegations that he had "used his position to further the interests of his clients".

"Tim Yeo has the right to defend himself but it is difficult to see how he can continue as chair of the select committee pending investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner," shadow Cabinet Office minister Gareth Thomas had said.

Eurotunnel is the sole owner of GB Railfreight, having bought the firm in 2010.

Mr Yeo and other select committee chairmen are elected to their posts by other MPs for the duration of Parliament.

They receive a supplementary payment of £14,728 in addition to their MP's salary of £66,396.

The allegations come amid calls for a tightening of the rules around lobbying of ministers and MPs to ensure greater transparency, with the government promising to bring forward legislation in the coming weeks.

Source: BBC news.


On The Square said...

What about Yeo's connection with Eco City Vehicles and how he stood to profit from a Taxi age limit.

Why did Peter DaCosta sign in to the MASQ workshops representing KPM Taxis, but was clearly there pushing a Eco City Vehicles agenda? He recommended newer cleaner vehicles were the way forward!

Why didn't DaCosta exclude himself from signing the document accepting on behalf of the trade a 15 year age limit on the grounds of conflict of interest?

The consultation that led to a Taxi age limit was illegal, and known to be so... Why did Boris Johnson and John Mason allow it to go ahead?

Why is there a trade media blackout concerning the King's College report on emissions; which catagorically proves that the Mayors Cleaner Air Strategy is a total farce?

I'll tell you why all of the above has been allowed to happen:


Anonymous said...

The taxi trade organisations have done absolutely nothing to challenge the taxi age limit.
The exposure of Yeo's corruption is a massive opportunity to challenge TFL / Bozo
on the unlawfull age limit, yet there has been complete silence.
Not one individual has done anything.
No protest.
No one has gone to their MP
You have all been totally abused and seem to lap it up.
Totaly gutless

End Game for Slap Head said...

The gutless individuals and trade orgs you are refering to either drive or support DaCosta and his overpriced vans which should never have passed the CoF. I have just read on the Order Order blog that Boris has stepped in back up his mate Tim Yeo. Says it all really. Now all we need is a statement from John Mason supporting Boris and Yeo. I think the expression is 'Three of a kind!' Three of them make a triangle and triangles are associated with stripy ties.... Soon the stripy ties will be replaced by thick rope. The sooner the better!!