Cash for questions: how the deal was sealed with Patrick Mercer
As the former soldier turned Conservative MP strode into what he thought was the office of a lobbying company near Parliament, the offer on the table was clear.
For a fee of £2,000 a month, Patrick Mercer, a popular figure in the House of Commons, would push the Government to allow the rogue Fijian regime to rejoin the Commonwealth.
The smartly-dressed lobbyist Mr Mercer thought he was meeting said the parliamentary campaign was being funded by a group of anonymous businesses that wished to profit from Fiji’s return to the international fold.
Unknown to the MP, the “lobbyist” was an undercover reporter investigating how Parliamentarians are prepared to influence the political process for paying clients.
It is almost 20 years since the “cash for questions” scandal rocked Parliament and became a symbol of Tory sleaze, but there are still persistent allegations that some Parliamentarians are willing to break the rules.
Undercover reporters from The Telegraph and the BBC’s Panorama approached MPs and peers who had been suspected of using their position in the Commons and Lords to advance their clients’ interests. During a series of meetings with Mr Mercer, it appeared that the allegations were well founded.