The Telegraph revealed on Monday that former Foreign Secretaries, Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind were the latest politicians to be caught in a sting operation by journalists posing as lobbyists.
In this case, the majority of MPs approached turned down the sting but the fact some keep getting caught out with monotonous regularity must say something about the lobbying industry. MPs keep finding these scenarios credible and approaching them as if they've done business in a similar way before, because they are not far removed from common practice
Rifkind's involvement brings an added dimension to this episode because of his status as chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC), the body responsible for legislative oversight of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. The spectacle of such a figure negotiating a commercial relationship with what purported to be a Chinese company has already prompted some Labour MPs to call for Rifkind's resignation as chair of the Committee on security grounds.
The Conservative whip has already been been removed from Rifkind, but the Prime Minister has refused to intervene on his committee chairmanship, as under the legislation governing the ISC, its members can only be removed by Parliament.
Some have suggested that calls for the Prime Minister to intervene undermine the independence of select committees. This, however, may be to misunderstand the peculiar position of the ISC.