A FORMER Labour cabinet minister has boasted about how he used his government contacts to change policies in favour of businesses.
Stephen Byers, former trade and transport secretary, was secretly recorded offering himself “like a sort of cab for hire” for up £5,000 a day. He also suggested bringing Tony Blair to meet clients.
Mr Byers allegedly said he had brokered a secret deal with Lord Adonis, the current transport secretary, on behalf of National Express, which he said was seeking to abandon the loss-making East Coast rail franchise without incurring financial penalties.
According to the investigation Mr Byers said: “We agreed with Andrew (Adonis) … he would be publicly very critical of National Express” as long as terms which favoured the company were agreed.
Mr Byers also claimed clients would benefit from the “trump card” of his friendship with Lord Mandelson, the business secretary.
It is alleged he once telephoned Lord Mandelson to put a stop to “massively bureaucratic” food labelling regulations after he was contacted by Tesco. Tesco has denied the claim.
After the allegations emerged Mr Byers issued a statement saying he had “exaggerated” his claims, and that he had retracted them the day after the meeting in an email.
Lord Adonis and National Express have also denied the accusations. Lord Mandelson said he had “no recollection” of talking to Mr Byers about the issue