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Ex-MP Tim Yeo sues Sunday Times over 'cash for advocacy' claims

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image captionTim Yeo's counsel said the Sunday Times reports had cast "a shadow over his entire career"

A former Conservative MP has told a court his reputation had been "trashed" by a national newspaper which alleged he breached parliamentary codes of conduct.

Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk 1983-2014, is suing The Sunday Times for libel over three articles from 2013.

The paper claimed he told reporters he could promote business concerns in return for cash, the High Court heard.

Mr Yeo's counsel said his client never said he could act as a "paid advocate".

The court heard two journalists posed as representatives of a solar energy firm and had lunch with Mr Yeo, who was then chairman of the Commons' Energy & Climate Change Select Committee.

£7,000 daily fees

At an earlier hearing, Mr Justice Warby said the articles alleged Mr Yeo, 70, had offered to act as an advocate to push for new laws to the company's benefit.

The judge said the articles suggested Mr Yeo would approach ministers, civil servants and other MPs for a daily fee of £7,000.

Times Newspapers Ltd said the articles were true, it was fair comment and responsible journalism on a matter of public interest.

Desmond Browne QC, Mr Yeo's counsel said the paper had acted "with a singular lack of responsibility both at the journalistic and the editorial level".

"Mr Yeo was the unfortunate victim of that irresponsibility. He says that in his last years of service as an MP, his reputation was trashed.

"At no stage during the lunch when he spoke about ways in which he might be able to assist the journalists, did Tim Yeo understand that what he was being asked to do was act as a paid advocate in breach of the rules."

Mr Yeo was cleared of breaking House of Commons rules by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in 2013.

The libel trial is due to last for seven days.

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