Tory peer Lang dragged into cash-for-access row
FORMER Scottish secretary Lord Lang became embroiled in the Westminster cash-for-access scandal yesterday when it emerged he met undercover journalists and discussed the prospect of taking on a role with the fictitious company they created.
Lord Lang, now the chairman of a group which advises former ministers taking up jobs in the private sector, attended a meeting with the reporters from the Channel 4 Dispatches team, after they called him about a job.
Tory peer Lang said he would not do any lobbying work for them, but did pass on the name of a Conservative-linked public relations firm they could use.
The same sting operation last week used hidden cameras to show former transport minister Stephen Byers describing himself as "like a cab for hire". Former defence secretary Geoff Hoon was also recorded telling the fictional firm he wanted to cash in on contacts he made in government.
Lord Lang, who was Scottish secretary between 1987 and 1990, is now the chairman of the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba). The group acts as watchdog on the appointments of former ministers and civil servants when they go to the private sector.
In the recorded meeting, Lord Lang discussed his own position, ruling out lobbying or PR work. He said: "PR becomes sensitive. It brings the word 'lobbying' in, which is very sensitive in parliament."
He then offered to put the firm – Anderson Perry – in touch with Quiller Consultants, a firm with close connections to the Tory party.
Lord Lang has extensive business interests, currently holding five separate directorships. He said yesterday: "I did not express an interest in joining (Anderson Perry]. I went to try and find out more about it. I also made it very clear I would not do corporate lobbying."
He said he informed Acoba's secretariat about the meeting before the Dispatches broadcast, adding: "I behaved entirely properly."
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