Sir Malcolm Rifkind has said that he will step down as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee and not stand for re-election in the upcoming polls after the ‘cash for access’ scandal.
Rifkind denies any wrongdoing despite being filmed by reporters from The Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 Dispatches apparently offering his services to a fake Chinese company for money.
The Tory MP for Kensington and former foreign secretary said that he is standing down from his position with the security committee so that it would not be “distracted or affected” by the allegations. However, he said he would remain a member of the committee as it moves to publish a report into surveillance by the intelligence agencies next month.
In a statement, 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.”
Earlier, speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Rifkind said the allegations against him were unfounded, but questioned whether an MP’s salary of £60,000 was sufficient “to attract people of a business or professional background to serve in the House of Commons”