North-East peer set to learn his fate in lobbying investigation

The Northern Echo: SUSPENDED: Lord Mackensie SUSPENDED: Lord Mackensie

A FORMER North-East police chief and peer who was caught up in a newspaper lobbying ‘sting’ will learn his fate within days.

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate was accused of offering to carry out parliamentary work in return for cash, after being recorded by undercover Sunday Times reporters.

The former president of the Police Superintendents Association – who has denied any wrongdoing – has been suspended by the Labour party since the story broke, in June.

Now The Northern Echo has learned that the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards is poised to issue his inquiry report into the affair, probably this week.

Paul Kernaghan took evidence from Lord Mackenzie, as well as from the two other peers – Lord Cunningham and Lord Laird - trapped by the newspaper.

The Sunday Times said it was investigating allegations that the Lords had become “infested” with peers acting as paid lobbyists and using parliament as a “business centre”.

It said all three peers offered to set up an all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on solar energy as a lobbying vehicle for a fake South Korean company.

And it was claimed they revealed how peers collude to hide their conflicts of interest, by pulling strings in parliament for each other's clients.

Last night, the former chief superintendent of Durham Police said he had not been told when the Commissioner for Standards’ report would be published.

Lord Mackenzie said: “I’m more interested in the result than you are, but I have had no notification about it.

“I finished giving my evidence a couple of weeks ago, but I have no complaints because the investigation needs to be done properly and people were on holiday over the summer.

“I’m sure I did not intentionally break any rules of Parliament and I would not do so – that goes without saying.”

In June, County Durham-born Lord Cunningham, who served in Tony Blair's Cabinet, said the Sunday Times report was misleading and that he was taking legal advice.

Peers are banned from being paid to act as advocates, trying to influence parliament or hosting functions in the Lords.

And they are prevented from seeking to profit by offering “parliamentary advice or services” of any kind, even if they have declared a financial interest.

A Labour Party spokesman said both Lord Mackenzie and Lord Cunningham were still suspended from the party, pending the Commissioner’s conclusions.

However, they have been free to continue taking their seats in the Lords, speaking in debates and carrying out other activities.

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