Sir Malcolm Rifkind has spoken of his anger over a newspaper sting which saw him implicated in a cash for access allegations.
The former foreign secretary’s comments came ahead of a parliamentary inquiry into the affair. Sir Malcolm was implicated in a cash for access scandal after he was filmed by reporters posing as staff from a fake Chinese firm apparently offering his services for cash.
He has denied wrongdoing but referred himself to the parliamentary standards watchdog, and subsequently decided not to run for a further term as the MP for Kensington.
Asked ahead of a London Jewish Forum event in Parliament whether he was concerned the affair would colour how he will be viewed after decades of service, he said: “No, not really. I’m very angry about what happened. I think it was a pretty contemptible activity.
“The reality is one was being interviewed for a possible membership of an advisory board. There are hundreds of advisory boards all over the country – many MP’s have given that work in the past. If you have cut and paste journalism you get pretty derogatory and unpleasant consequences. But there’s going to be a parliamentary enquiry. I’ll be happy to abide by their judgement.”
Rifkind said there was not yet a “viable” Palestinian state but warned that “it was a matter of time” until a Palestinian state was recognised by the international community if the new Israeli Government continued to pursue settlement building “in a harsh way”.
But he “certainly hoped” sanctions or other such measures would not be used against Israel by Europe. “That would be foolish, unnecessary and unjustified. However it partly depends on what the Israeli government choose to do. If they use their election victory as some sort of improbable mandate to expand settlements – and if unpleasant comments about fellow Israeli citizens of an Arab background – no one should be surprised if that increases antagonism.
“You’ve got two sorts of critics. You’ve got those who are friendly and want to be friendly and are finding it increasingly difficult to give support and those always hostile who can’t believe their luck that the Israeli government is giving them such ammunition to pursue that objective.”
Sir Malcolm also discussed shechita, lobbying by the community and Syria during a wide-ranging during the wide-ranging question and answer session, chaired by Robert Rams and media partnered by the Jewish News. He expressed “surprise” at Cameron ruling out a third term but said it appeared most likely the Tories would win the most eats in May but fall short of a majority.