The chairman of a powerful Commons committee is facing a sleaze probe after denying allegations he used his position to help business clients, The Independent has reported.
Tim Yeo, who heads the Energy and Climate Change Committee, has said he rejects claims made after a sting by Sunday Times journalists.
But he could come under pressure to step aside from his role after referring himself to parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Hudson.
The reporters approached Mr Yeo posing as representatives of a solar energy company, offering to hire him at £7,000 a day to push for new laws to boost its business.
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 former environment minister excused himself from asking questions at the committee hearing because of the conflict of interest.
Mr Yeo, the latest in a line of politicians caught up in lobbying stings, was scheduled to give broadcast interviews yesterday, but pulled out at the last minute.
He said he had refused a request from the undercover reporters to establish an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on behalf of their fictitious client.
Mr Yeo highlighted an email he sent to the fake firm the day after meeting them, explaining that he “could not work for their client because it had become increasingly apparent to me that they wanted a lobbyist and that role was incompatible with my work as an MP and committee chair”.
“I am referring myself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner because I wish to have this matter thoroughly investigated by an independent body,” Mr Yeo added.
“I am confident that I have acted in accordance with the MPs Code of Conduct at all times.”