World

Former British ministers deny wrongdoing after being caught in lobbying sting

  • FILE - This is a Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 file photo of  Britain's former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as he  listens to Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian parliament's foreign policy and national security committee, during their meeting at the Iranian parliament in Tehran, Iran.  Two former senior British government ministers Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind denied  Monday Feb 23, 2015, any wrongdoing after being caught in a hidden-camera sting appearing to offer access to politicians and diplomats in return for cash. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

    FILE - This is a Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 file photo of Britain's former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as he listens to Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian parliament's foreign policy and national security committee, during their meeting at the Iranian parliament in Tehran, Iran. Two former senior British government ministers Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind denied Monday Feb 23, 2015, any wrongdoing after being caught in a hidden-camera sting appearing to offer access to politicians and diplomats in return for cash. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This is a Monday Oct. 3, 2005   file photo of British Conservative Party MP Malcolm Rifkind, a contender to be the new leader of the party, as he  speaks during the 2005 Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool, England..  Two former senior British government ministers Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw denied  Monday Feb. 23, 2015, any wrongdoing after being caught in a hidden-camera sting appearing to offer access to politicians and diplomats in return for cash. (AP Photo/Paul Ellis, File)

    FILE - This is a Monday Oct. 3, 2005 file photo of British Conservative Party MP Malcolm Rifkind, a contender to be the new leader of the party, as he speaks during the 2005 Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool, England.. Two former senior British government ministers Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw denied Monday Feb. 23, 2015, any wrongdoing after being caught in a hidden-camera sting appearing to offer access to politicians and diplomats in return for cash. (AP Photo/Paul Ellis, File)  (The Associated Press)

Two former senior British government ministers have denied wrongdoing after being caught in a hidden-camera sting appearing to offer access to politicians and diplomats in return for cash.

Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary under Labour Party Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Conservative former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, were secretly filmed by reporters posing as representatives of a Hong Kong-based communications agency.

Rifkind was recorded saying he could arrange "useful access" to ambassadors, while Straw spoke of using "charm and menace" to change politicians' minds.

The sting has reopened debate about political lobbying.

Rifkind and Straw, who are still lawmakers, have referred themselves to parliament's standards watchdog.

Rifkind said Monday that allegations of wrongdoing were "unfounded." Straw said his conversation related to activities he might undertake once he left Parliament.