LONDON (Reuters) - Top-ranking retired British military officers have been secretly filmed talking about helping defense firms contact ministers and former colleagues in return for payment, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.
The newspaper said it had recorded the former officers offering their services despite rules restricting lobbying by retired personnel. The men denied doing anything wrong, the Sunday Times said.
A defense ministry spokesman said it would investigate whether the men had broken any rules.
The Sunday Times cited the names of four high-ranking retired figures - Falklands war hero Lieutenant-General John Kiszely, former defense ministry procurement chief Lieutenant-General Richard Applegate, former naval commander Admiral Trevor Soar and former army chief Richard Dannatt.
"I have never lobbied anybody about anything .... I have got a clear conscience on this," Dannatt told Sky News.
Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said former officers had no influence on defense contracts.
"Equipment is procured in the interests of our armed forces and not in the interests of retired personnel. Former military officers have no influence over what MoD (Ministry of Defense) contracts are awarded," Hammond said in a statement.
The Sunday Times said Kiszely bragged about lobbying on a multi-million pound contract that was in official "purdah", and that Applegate had successfully campaigned for an Israeli arms company despite being barred from lobbying at the time.
Under British law, some former senior state employees, including senior military staff, civil servants or diplomats, must apply for permission to move into any new job until two years have passed after leaving office.
The newspaper quoted Soar as saying he would "ignore" the two-year ban and said Dannatt had spoken about sidestepping a ban on discussing an arms contract.
(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas; editing by Jason Webb)