MP Patrick Mercer hopes to get Tory whip back after lobbying probe

Patrick Mercer: "I will continue to work for my constituents"

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MP Patrick Mercer says he hopes to be readmitted to the Conservative Party in the Commons after he has cleared his name of lobbying allegations.

The BBC's Panorama alleged he had accepted £4,000 to lobby for business interests in Fiji.

Speaking during a visit in his constituency, the Newark MP said it was "very painful" to think that he might have infringed people's trust.

But he said he was "in the hands" of the parliamentary standards watchdog.

He resigned the Conservative whip after the allegations surfaced last month, a move he hoped would save his party embarrassment, and referred himself to the standards commissioner.

'Extremely kind'

Mr Mercer will continue as an independent MP and whatever the conclusions of the watchdog's report, he has said he will leave Parliament at the next election.

During a visit to a retirement home in his constituency, the former soldier told BBC Nottingham - in his first interview since the allegations against him were broadcast - that his current situation was "difficult".

Patrick Mercer Biography

  • Born in 1956, the son of an Anglican clergyman who went on to become the Bishop of Exeter
  • Studied modern history at Oxford University and attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst
  • Spent 25 years as an army officer, serving in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Uganda and other countries, before working as a journalist
  • Elected as MP for Newark in 2001
  • Served as shadow minister for homeland security under Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard and David Cameron, before Mr Cameron fired him in 2007 after a row over alleged racist comments
  • He is married with one son and lives just outside Newark

"My party has been extremely kind to me and extremely indulgent of me. My accommodation remains inside the same place that the party establishment is, but I can't pretend that this is an easy process."

Asked whether there was anything he would have done differently in recent weeks, he replied that he would have liked to have conducted himself "faultlessly".

While he would not comment on the allegations against him, he said he was "in the hands" of the standards commissioner and hoped her report would be "sufficiently favourable for me to have the Conservative whip returned to me".

Mr Mercer said it was "business as usual" for him as a constituency MP but asked whether he should apologise to those who elected him, the MP said he had already expressed regret at the time he resigned the Conservative whip.

He added: "Of course, I live here, this is my home. I've got to show that I will continue to work for my constituents. It's very painful for me to think that I may have infringed that trust."

Fiji questions

Mr Mercer was secretly recorded having a conversation with a journalist from Panorama, who was posing as a representative of a fake company seeking to hire the MP's services to lobby for Fiji's return to the Commonwealth.

Panorama said it had paid Mr Mercer £4,000 for working two days a month and this money had yet to be declared to the parliamentary authorities.

Mr Mercer says he agreed to be a consultant for work outside Parliament - which is permissible under parliamentary rules - and is taking legal advice about the allegations.

MPs are allowed to work as a consultants or be paid for advice but are forbidden from acting as a "paid advocate" - defined as someone taking "payment for speaking" in the House of Commons.

Under parliamentary rules, politicians are required to declare publicly money that they receive beyond their parliamentary salary, but some paid work should not be undertaken at all.

For example, MPs should not be paid "to ask a parliamentary question, table a motion, introduce a bill, table an amendment to a motion or a bill, or urge colleagues or ministers to do so".

Panorama said the MP submitted five parliamentary questions as well as an early day motion - all in relation to Fiji.

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