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Yeo denies breaching lobbying rules
The chairman of a powerful Commons committee has denied breaching lobbying rules amid allegations that he used his position to help business clients.
Tim Yeo, who heads the Energy and Climate Change Committee, said he "totally rejects" claims made after a sting by Sunday Times journalists, and he added that he has referred himself to the parliamentary standards commissioner to clear his name.
The reporters approached the Tory MP posing as representatives of a solar energy company offering to hire him as a paid advocate to push for new laws to boost its business for a fee of £7,000 a day.
He apparently said he could not speak out publicly for the green energy firm they claimed to represent because "people will say he's saying this because of his commercial interest".
However, the former minister reportedly assured them: "What I say to people in private is another matter altogether."
The newspaper's footage showed Mr Yeo seemingly suggesting that he had coached a paying client on how to influence the committee. "I was able to tell him in advance what he should say," he said.
The former environment minister excused himself from asking questions at the committee hearing because of the conflict of interest. The House of Commons code of conduct forbids members from acting as paid advocates, including by lobbying ministers.
In a detailed statement rebutting the claims, the MP said: "I want to make clear that I totally reject these allegations. The Sunday Times has chosen to quote very selectively from a recording obtained clandestinely during a conversation of nearly an hour and a half in a restaurant with two undercover reporters who purported to be representing a client from South Korea.
"My lawyer requested the whole recording from which these extracts were obtained but this has not been given. The whole recording would show the context of the conversation and demonstrate clearly that at no stage did I agree or offer to work for the fictitious company these undercover reporters claimed to be representing, still less did I commit to doing so for a day a month as the article claims."
Mr Yeo added the allegation that he coached a client was "totally untrue".