Byers and Hoon disciplined over cash-for influence

By staff

Two former ministers have been banned from parliament after they were caught accepting cash to exert their influence.

The Commons’ standards and privileges committee found that Stephen Byers, former transport secretary, and Geoff Hoon, former defence secretary, had brought parliament into disrepute. Mr Byers was banned for two years and Mr Hoon for five years.

The cash-for-influences scandal hit when undercover journalists posed as lobbyists offering to pay the former ministers to influence policy.

Mr Hoon was charged with a “particularly serious” breach of the rules and told to apologise to the House in writing. From January 1st his parliamentary pass entitlement as a former MP will be suspended for five years.

Mr Byers, who described himself as a “Cab for hire” had already apologised to the House.

“We agree with Mr Byers that he was wrong to make the statements he did,” the report said.

“The deep regret that he has expressed goes some way towards putting right the wrong. But this was, as the commissioner has found, a particularly serious breach of the code. We do not believe that the matter can be allowed to rest with an apology.

“If Mr Byers had not accepted that his conduct was wrong and had not apologised in such unequivocal terms, we would have recommended that this entitlement be withdrawn for a much longer period.”

Patricia Hewitt, former health secretary, escaped without penalty.

“We agree with the [parliamentary standards] commissioner that Ms Hewitt did not breach the code or the rules, although we do consider that – like the other members – she was unwise to agree to the meeting,” the report reads.

“We make no recommendation in this case.”