Lords Dannatt and Stirrup cleared of misconduct over lobbying claims
- 13 June 2013
- From the section UK Politics
Former high ranking military officers Lord Dannatt and Lord Stirrup have been cleared of misconduct over lobbying allegations.
The pair were among several retired military leaders secretly filmed by the Sunday Times.
They were accused of using their influence within the MoD to lobby on behalf of commercial interests.
But the Lords Commissioner on Standards said the two men did not break the code of conduct for House of Lords members.
The commissioner, Paul Kernaghan, launched investigations into the conduct of Lord Dannatt, former head of the British army, and Lord Stirrup, former chief of the defence staff, after claims they had spoken about lobbying top defence officials to secure contracts for private firms in breach of Whitehall rules.
The commissioner's report dismissed the complaints against both men but makes clear that his investigation was limited to whether they had breached the code of conduct.
The investigation was launched after Sunday Times reporters posing as lobbyists for a defence manufacturer last October approached several senior retired officers to ask if they would help them secure contracts.
Lord Dannatt had "candidly talked about side-stepping a ban on discussion of a £400m contract by 'targeting' the MoD's top civil servant, with whom he went to school", according to the Sunday Times.
The peer, who was chief of the general staff between 2006 and 2009, said he offered to "facilitate conversations" but had rejected an £8,000 monthly fee offer.
The standards commissioner said: "I have not found any evidence that Lord Dannatt breached the Code of Conduct. The only references to the House of Lords in the transcript are limited to briefings arranged by ministers and visits by the serving Chiefs of Staff.
"Lord Dannatt made no claims of using his position as a member to exercise parliamentary influence for personal gain. Nor did he offer to provide parliamentary advice or services.
"He entered into no relationship which gave rise to an interest which had to be registered. Equally, there is no evidence that he had failed to register any other defence-related interest. Thus, I dismiss this complaint against Lord Dannatt."
Lord Stirrup, a former senior RAF commander who was chief of the defence staff between 2006 and 2010, was secretly filmed by the Sunday Times talking about his contacts with ministers and the MoD.
He is quoted as saying he was able to call on "old friends and powerful contacts" to help in a lobbying campaign. The peer dismissed the claims as a "totally false picture".
The standards commissioner said: "I have not found any evidence that Lord Stirrup breached the Code of Conduct. Indeed, he volunteers to the journalists that an interest of the type they were discussing would have to be entered in the Register of Lords' Interests.
"The only references to the House of Lords in the transcript are limited to Lord Stirrup making it clear that questions should not be asked in pursuit of a specific interest. He then goes on to give his frank views on the merits of parliamentary questions in eliciting information.
"Lord Stirrup made no claims about using his position as a member to exercise parliamentary influence for personal gain. Nor did he offer to provide parliamentary advice or services. He entered into no relationship which gave rise to an interest which had to be registered. Thus, I dismiss this complaint against Lord Stirrup."
In both cases the Commissioner added: "I reiterate that my role is to investigate allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct and not to police members' non-parliamentary activities."
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is carrying out a separate investigation into whether it was possible for anyone to secure "privileged access" to its officials and whether any rules had been broken.