Tory grandee Sir Malcolm Rifkind is to step down from his role as chairman of the influential Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) and will not stand as an MP in May’s election.
It comes a day after the veteran parliamentarian was suspended from the Conservative Party in the wake of the ‘cash for access’ scandal, after he was filmed offering “useful access” in return for thousands of pounds.
Edinburgh-born Rifkind, who is Jewish, was under fire, together with Jack Straw – another former foreign secretary – following an undercover investigation by journalists from The Telegraph and Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ programme.
In the footage, he is seen offering a fictitious Hong Kong-based company “useful access” to British ambassadors in return for a minimum of £5,000 per day.
Before he was suspended on Monday, Rifkind was defiant. “These are completely unfounded allegations and I intend to fight them all the way,” he said. “I’ve been in public life a long time: I know what is permitted and what is proper.”
After the announcement that he had been suspended, Rifkind said: “I want to have the standard of living that my previous professional life should entitle me to.”
Rifkind is well respected on all sides of the House, but members of his Intelligence and Security Committee had voiced disquiet at the allegations. Sir Malcolm took the decision to step down after consulting fellow committee members.