CONSERVATIVE MP Tim Yeo is to stand down as chairman of a Commons committee while he is investigated over claims he used his position to help business clients.
The former minister announced last night that he would be advising members of the energy and climate change committee today that he should temporarily stand aside while the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner carried out her inquiry.
He said in a statement that he was stepping down to ensure the “smooth running” of the committee, and insisted that he had not breached Commons rules when he spoke to undercover news reporters.
He said: “I have decided that at the private meeting of the energy and climate change committee, I will recommend to members that for the period until the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, to whom I have referred myself, has completed her investigation, I will temporarily stand aside from the chairmanship of the committee.
“I am doing so solely to ensure the smooth running of the committee during the next few weeks.
“I firmly believe I have not breached the MPs’ Code of Conduct in any respect and therefore await the outcome of the commissioner’s investigation with confidence.
Mr Yeo added: “In particular, I absolutely and unreservedly deny the allegation that I coached a witness with whom I have a business connection before that person gave evidence to the committee.”
Labour had said it was “difficult to see” how Mr Yeo could continue in his post after he was secretly filmed by Sunday Times investigators posing as representatives of a fictional energy company seeking to hire his services.
In the recording, he appears to suggest he told a businessman what to say to his committee before that person appeared before MPs last month.