LONDON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Two former British Foreign Secretaries denied committing crimes Monday after they allegedly offered to use their influence in exchange for cash.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw, each currently a member of Parliament, acknowledged they were approached by an undercover journalist seeking help for a bogus Chinese company. Reporters for the newspaper The Daily Telegraph and television's Channel 4 allegedly attempted to hire Rifkind and Straw. Rifkind was suspended from the Conservative Party Monday, and Straw said he would withdraw from his Labor Party's parliamentary committee. Rifkind told t he British Broadcasting Corp. Monday he would fight what he called "very serious allegations." Straw, while being secretly recorded, allegedly claimed he operated "under the radar" to change European Union trade rules for a company which paid him 60,000 pounds ($92,442) per year, and Rifkind allegedly claimed he could provide "useful access" to every British ambassador. Members of parliament are permitted to take outside work but must abide by a government Code of Conduct, which includes full disclosure of earnings and a ban on working as a "paid advocate."
Straw said in a statement he was "mortified that I fell into this trap, despite my best efforts to avoid this, and my previous public criticism of colleagues of all parties who have done so in the past." He and Rifkind each asked that Parliament's standards commission investigate the matters.