A Labour peer has admitted taking money to introduce an arms company lobbyist to the government minister in charge of weapons purchases. The case of 'cash for access' in the House of Lords is likely to ignite fresh concern about ethical standards in parliament. The lobbyist paid cash for an introduction to Lord Drayson, the defence minister in charge of billions of pounds of military procurement, according to evidence obtained by the Guardian. Money changed hands with former Labour frontbencher Lord Hoyle, previously Doug Hoyle, an ex-government whip and former MP for Warrington.
The lobbyist, Michael Wood, who trades as Whitehall Advisers, agreed to pay Lord Hoyle an undisclosed sum in June 2005. MoD documents released to the Guardian show that Lord Hoyle then engineered a private meeting between Mr Wood and the newly appointed defence minister. Mr Wood is a former RAF officer who works for BAE and other smaller arms companies to help get them contracts. He has free run of the Palace of Westminster because he has a security pass as a research assistant to another MP. He operates his company from his nearby flat.
Paying cash for ministerial introductions is a practice frowned on at the House of Lords, but not specifically outlawed. 'Cash for introductions' is forbidden by the main lobbyists' trade body, the Association of Professional Political Consultants, but Mr Wood is not a member.
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