Former Foreign Secretaries Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind say they have broken no rules after being secretly filmed apparently offering their services to a private company for cash.
Reporters for the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches posed as staff of a fake Chinese firm.
Mr Straw said he had fallen into a “very clever trap” while Sir Malcolm said his comments had been “silly”.
The MPs have referred themselves to Parliament’s standards watchdog reported BBC.
It is claimed that Mr Straw was recorded describing how he operated “under the radar” and had used his influence to change EU rules on behalf of a firm which paid him £60,000 a year.
On the subject of payment, Mr Straw is heard saying: “So normally, if I’m doing a speech or something, it’s £5,000 a day, that’s what I charge.”
Sir Malcolm is reported to have claimed he could arrange “useful access” to every British ambassador in the world.
The Conservative MP for Kensington and chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee was recorded saying: “I am self-employed – so nobody pays me a salary. I have to earn my income.”
He said his usual fee for half a day’s work was “somewhere in the region of £5,000 to £8,000”.
Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind have both referred themselves to Parliament’s commissioner for standards. A full investigation could take months.
But there the similarities end.
Mr Straw has been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party at his own request. Ed Miliband is unlikely to feel much sympathy for the retiring MP.
Sir Malcolm is not facing any suspension.
He told me the allegations had no bearing on his very significant role as chairman of the parliamentary committee that oversees the work of MI5 and MI6.
Downing Street has not offered any view on that. A source said it is for the Commons and other members of that committee to decide.