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Two former transport secretaries suspended by Labour

Stephen Byers and Geoff Hoon, who have both held the office of secretary of state for transport, have been suspended from the parliamentary Labour party for: “bringing the party into disrepute” following a TV sting.

Both men are due to step down from parliamentary politics at the forthcoming election, but they were filmed for the Channel 4 programme Dispatches, broadcast last night.

Hoon, Byers and others were secretly filmed by reporters for Channel 4 show, posing as members of a fictionalised US lobbying firm Anderson Perry Associates.

Byers appeared to indicate he had influenced both Lord Adonis on behalf of National Express over rail franchises, and Lord Mandelson on behalf of Tesco over food labelling. He likened himself to a “cab for hire”, costing £3,000-£5,000 per day.

Hoon indicated he wanted to use his contacts to lobby after he steps down at the election.

The Labour Party issued a statement saying: “The Labour Party expects the highest standards of its representatives and believes that they have a duty to be transparent and accountable servants to their constituents at all times.”

Consequently, both Hoon and Byers, former health secretary Patricia Hewitt, and Margaret Moran have been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour party pending an investigation.

The programme also featured Conservative MP Sir John Butterfill and Labour Baroness Morgan, who have both referred themselves to their respective parliamentary standards watchdogs.

Byers has subsequently claimed his claims were: “exaggerated” and referred himself for investigation to the Commons Standards Committee.

Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles said: “People have the right to know whether senior Cabinet Ministers like Lord Mandelson and Lord Adonis have been complicit in the scandal.

“Gordon Brown is the man who wanted the Iraq Inquiry in private and who misled the public over defence cuts, people will wonder what he has to hide this time. This looks increasingly like a cover up at the heart of government,” he said.

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