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Defiant Geoff Hoon refuses to apologise for bringing Parliament into disrepute

By Jonathan Isaby

Geoff Hoon Remember how, last March, a variety of departing Labour ministers were caught boasting about how they could use their contacts to help change policy and provide access to ministers in return for money?

Geoff Hoon , the ex-Defence Secretary, spoke about hoping to translate his "knowledge and contacts" into "something that, bluntly, makes money".

The Sunday Times reported how he had told an undercover reporter that "he had already been offered a chairmanship of a foreign defence firm for an 'embarrassing' amount of money" and "he offered to find out information on the defence policy from civil servants and said he would introduce fee-paying clients to ministers".

In December, the Standards and Privileges Committee recommended that Hoon be stripped of his former MP's parliamentary pass for five years - a move that was endorsed by the Commons without a vote the following week.

Ex-Cabinet Stephen Byers - who infamously compared himself to being "like a cab for hire" - lost his pass for two years.

Byers has also complied with the Committee's request for him to write a formal apology for having brought Parliament into disrepute. But this week's Tribune magazine reports that Hoon is defiantly refusing to do so:

"Geoff Hoon, the former Defence Secretary caught in a Sunday Times/Dispatches lobbying sting, is refusing to accept the findings of Parliament’s most senior watchdog that he brought Parliament into disrepute. He told Tribune that rather than apologise for his conduct, he has written to House of Comons Speaker, John Bercow, contesting the way that Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon reached his conclusion."

"But Mr Hoon refused to accept he had brought Parliament into disrepute. He argued that he believed he was having a private conversation with a potential employer and was trying to impress them. Writing to the committee, he said: “The worst that could be said is that I suggested that I knew officials who were working on the defence review. I only knew that because the officials themselves had told me so.”

"In his letter to Mr Bercow, he said: “The committee never really looked at my representations, they just took the ruling of the commissioner. Their decision gives Rupert Murdoch a green light to pursue this type of journalism.”