Brighton peer warns colleagues about newspaper sting operation

Posted On 26 May 2013 at 8:28 am

A senior Brighton politician has emailed his parliamentary colleagues to warn them about a newspaper sting operation.

Steve Bassam, the Opposition Chief Whip in the House of Lords, sent the email on Wednesday (22 May).

It followed reports to parliamentary officials that journalists from “a prominent Sunday newspaper” had approached peers to find out whether they would ask questions in return for payments.

The media blogger Roy Greenslade, who lives in Brighton, wrote about the matter on the Guardian website yesterday (Saturday 25 May).

The sting has echoes of previous scandals when MPs were found willing to accept cash for questions or cash for access.

Lord Bassam of Brighton, the former Labour leader of Brighton and Hove Council, said in his email; “One of our members has been approached by a lobbying company that we can find little trace of internationally.

“We are concerned that this may be linked to a prominent national newspaper and timed to coincide with the arrival in the Lords of the government’s energy bill

“If anyone is approached, you should be extremely cautious.”

Professor Greenslade wrote: “Evidently, certain peers were contacted by journalists using the names Robyn Fox and James Fox who said they represented a company based in Zurich.

“It was made clear that money was on offer should they be prepared to ask questions, with more available if they were prepared to pilot legislation through Parliament.”

Professor Greenslade said: “It seems that this time around the stingers have been stung. Then again, perhaps we will discover later, in spite of the warnings, that some peers were caught out.”

He did not name the newspaper but it was believed to be The Sunday Times.

 

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