MP resigns as security committee chair amid 'cash-for-access' claims

Rifkind has left the building

Houses of Parliament in night-time

Former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind is stepping down as chair of the UK Parliament’s influential security committee in the wake of "cash for access" allegations.

In a statement, Rifkind said he intends to remain a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee but will step down as chairman. The ISC, which overseas the work of the security and intelligence agencies, is due to publish a Privacy and Security report next month prior to dissolving ahead of the general election in May.

“I do not want the work of the Committee and the publication of the Report to be in any way distracted or affected by controversy as to my personal position. I have concluded, therefore, that it is better that this important work should be presided over by a new chairman,” Rifkind said.

Rifkind, who is also stepping down as an MP at the election, was filmed claiming he was "self-employed" and had plenty of time on his hands during discussions with what he thought were representatives of a Chinese company that wanted to obtain access to UK legislators and senior diplomats (ambassadors). In reality the “lobbyists” were journalists working for the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches. Labour former foreign secretary Jack Straw was targeted in the same sting.

Rifkind - who denies any impropriety - was suspended from the Conservative party while the matter is investigated. He has also reported the matter to Parliamentary watchdogs. ®

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