Tory MP denies exploiting political links for business deals

A Conservative MP has referred himself to the parliamentary standards watchdog after he was accused of exploiting his position to make lucrative overseas business deals.

Mark Pritchard, a member of the all-party parliamentary group for Albania, told an undercover reporter for the Telegraph he should invest in a £10 million hotel deal in the country.

The MP said he could help introduce the reporter to the senior political figures in the country, but insisted: "I don't lobby. I don't, whatever.

"I'm a friend of pretty much everybody there and they want investment, just to be completely brutal. I know the Mayor, I know the [Albanian] prime minister, I know the speaker, you know and they're all different parties. So I would be saying look don't screw this up and I may be bringing other investment," he was filmed telling the reporter.

Pritchard said he expected a monthly retainer for his services, plus a three per cent cut of any deal made.

"So it would be advice. So it would be the figure that I've mentioned, but it would also be three per cent and I will email you my contract, three per cent of the gross amount for the introduction on the signing of the contract," he said.

"So let's say you're doing a hotel for three million, let's say five million. Three per cent of the five million on the contract for getting it all done… which is very reasonable."

All-party parliamentary groups have become hugely controversial because of their reported links to lobbyists and private business.

MPs on the groups are often treated to 'freebies' including foreign trips.

Earlier this year, former Conservative MP Patrick Mercer was filmed boasting that he had persuaded 18 MPs to join the APPG for Fiji including "several freeloaders" who just wanted a holiday there.

Mark Pritchard today denied breaking any parliamentary rules, and described the allegations as "malicious."

"The allegations made by the Telegraph are false – and I deny their claims," he said.

"They have selected quotes out of context to fit their desired story, which is both hurtful and malicious and seeking to damage me.

"This is not the first time the Telegraph have made false claims about me for which I have subsequently and successfully sued them for libel. I cannot comment further as I am consulting libel lawyers."

"I have asked the parliamentary commissioner for standards to investigate the matter".

Labour today called for the government to introduce new reforms limiting MPs' outside income.

"Every passing scandal and further investigation only goes to reinforce why Ed Miliband was right earlier this year to call for new rules and new limits on MP's outside earnings. The perception that some MPs are only in it for what they can get, not for what they can give, merely serves to further undermine Parliament," a spokesperson said.