Sir Malcolm Rifkind has stepped down as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, and confirmed he will step down as MP for the safe seat of Kensington, in the wake of a cash-for-access scandal.
The former foreign secretary had been suspended from Parliament yesterday after he and Labour MP Jack Straw were caught in a sting for Channel 4's Dispatches strand, offering to use contacts and influence in exchange for payment from a private company.
Rifkind has denied any wrongdoing, and said his suspension was “meant to be a temporary matter”.
This morning he issued a statement resigning as chairman of the ISC, though said he will remain as a member. The committee is due to publish a crucial report into privacy and security in March.
Of the committee, Rifkind said:
None of the current controversy with which I am associated is relevant to my work as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. However, I have today informed my colleagues that while I will remain a member of the committee, I will step down from the Chairmanship.
The committee is due to be dissolved in little over a month with the prorogation of Parliament for the forthcoming General Election. The main substantive work which needs to be completed will be the publication of our Privacy and Security Report during March.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.
Of his role as MP, Rifkind issued a separate statement saying:
I had intended to seek one further term as MP for Kensington, before retiring from the House of Commons. I have concluded that to end the uncertainty it would be preferable, instead, to step down at the end of this parliament.This is entirely my personal decision. I have had no such requests from my constituency association but I believe that it is the right and proper action to take. As regards the allegations of Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph I find them contemptible and will not comment further at this time.Although I will retire from parliament, I shall continue my public and political life and am much looking forward to doing so over the years to come.