Labour peers suspended after lobbying sting

Two Labour peers have been suspended from the party after a sting operation caught them on camera offering to act for a foreign energy firm.

Lord Cunningham and Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate were suspended this morning while Ulster Unionist peer Lord Laird resigned the party whip.

"The Labour party expects the highest standards of its representatives and believes that they have a duty to be transparent and accountable at all times," a Labour spokesperson said.

A Sunday Times sting operation caught the peers telling undercover reporters they could set up an all-party group to represent its interests.

The suspensions come as British politics reels from a series of lobbying scandals which bring back memories of the sleaze era under John Major.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer is alleged to have tabled five parliamentary questions and launched an all-party group and an early day motion as part of a £24,000 contract for business interests in Fiji.

Mercer has resigned the Tory whip but Labour sources are attacking Cameron for failing to set up the long-promised statutory register of lobbyists.

"We have seen no action from this Tory-led government, despite David Cameron himself warning that lobbying was the next great scandal waiting to happen," Labour MP Jon Trickett said.

The Mercer scandal reflects badly on the Conservatives but Cameron may allow himself a private smile at the development.

Mercer was one of his most outspoken critics on the backbenches. When asked where Cameron had gone wrong, Mercer once answered: "Well, he was born."

In a development which only added to the sense of a return to the Major era, the Mail on Sunday featured a mysterious report of a love affair which would have serious implications for David Cameron.

All that is known about the couple is that they are middle-aged and not in Cabinet. The affair is now understood to have ended.

Those who are aware of who is supposed to have been involved in the affair are using increasingly hyperbolic terms to describe how it could affect David Cameron's leadership.

The Mail also reported that crisis talks had been held at No 10 in the wake of the revelation.