Ulster Unionist peer Lord Laird to be suspended from House of Lords

Four-month ban for offering to accept a £2,000-a-month fee

 Lord Laird of Artigarvan: told undercover reporters he was willing to “bribe” peers to ask questions

Lord Laird of Artigarvan: told undercover reporters he was willing to “bribe” peers to ask questions

 


Northern Irish member of the House of Lords Lord Laird faces a four-month ban for offering to accept a £2,000-a-month fee to provide firms and foreign states improper parliamentary access.

Two offers were made to Lord Laird by undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph and BBC’s Panorama, who were claiming to represent a South Korean solar energy firm and the Fijian government.

The ban yesterday from the Lords’ Committee for Privileges and Conduct came after Laird had appealed an earlier findings from the Lords’ Commissioner for Standards.


PR consultant
A public relations consultant, John Laird became the youngest member of the Northern Ireland parliament in 1970 while chairman of the Ulster Young Unionist Council. He had appealed the commissioner’s judgment against him, arguing the commissioner was biased against him because he had made unflattering remarks about fellow peers.

In one taped meeting, Lord Laird told Telegraph undercover reporters he was prepared to “bribe” colleagues to ask questions and was willing to arrange parliamentary debates. He had appealed the finding against him about the offer to set up an all-parliamentary group on Fiji because no fee had ever been agreed for the work.

“In our view, Lord Laird does not here appreciate that the expression of a clear willingness to breach the code of honour is in itself a breach of the code, even if no actual agreement is achieved or no money changes hands,” said the committee.

The UUP whip was removed from Lord Laird when his conduct first emerged in June, although it is possible he could be expelled from the party.