Hoon says he was "showing off" in TV sting
LONDON (Reuters) - Former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said on Friday he had been showing off and had got it wrong when he was secretly filmed offering himself for hire for his government experience and contacts.
"I should have known better," he told BBC radio. "I didn't know that private conversation was being filmed and recorded for broadcast, and I shouldn't have said some of the things that I did say."
Hoon was suspended from the Labour party along with former cabinet ministers Stephen Byers and Patricia Hewitt after they were shown in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme this week claiming they could be hired to influence government policy.
He was also asked to step down from a NATO panel of 12 experts headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright drawing up a mission statement for the military alliance.
The television sting raised further questions over the probity of politicians following a scandal over excessive expenses claims that tainted all parties ahead of a general election expected in May.
Hoon, who is quitting as an MP at the election, said he had paid a "considerable price" for his mistake, and apologised to anyone who felt he had let them down.
He said he believed he was having an "informal chat" with an American consultancy -- posed by journalists -- and had made it clear he was interested in working as a strategic corporate adviser rather than a lobbyist once he left parliament.
"I was guilty of showing off ... I was trying to impress, I was trying to demonstrate my knowledge and experience, background in a particular sector," he said.
He said it was reasonable for him to be planning for his future job prospects after quitting public life.
"If I was in any other job, people would say I was working my notice," he said.
In the programme he was recorded as saying he was looking forward to "translating my knowledge and contacts about the international scene into something that, bluntly, makes money."
(Editing by Steve Addison)
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