A BLACKBURN peer found guilty in a parliamentary sleaze inquiry should be sacked and stripped of the freedom of the borough, according to leading councillors.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn is set to be suspended from the House of Lords after a cash for influence investigation found him guilty of misconduct.

Following an investigation, a Lords committee ruled that Lord Taylor was prepared to help journalists posing as lobbyists to change laws in return for cash.

In a damning verdict, the committee said Lord Taylor had: • ‘clearly expressed a willingness’ to breach the code of conduct • a ‘disturbing disdain for the rules’ and had made ‘deplorable boasts’ that he breached rules in the past.

• an ‘inherently implausible’ defence and claimed he could not have breached his ‘personal honour’ because the term was out of date • admitted being ‘an old man with an advanced degree of self-satisfaction, but one who is easily confused and who rambles on’.

The privileges committee has recommended Lord Taylor and another peer Lord Truscott’s suspension from the House until the end of this session of Parliament, probably around six months. The House will vote on the measure on Wednesday.

If approved next week, they would become the first peers to be suspended since the time of Cromwell. The sanctions would cost them access to tax-free allowances worth up to £335 a day.

Lord Taylor has also been suspended from the Labour Party. The police decided not to mount a criminal investigation into the case earlier this year.

But critics said the suspension - the toughest penalty the committee could deliver - was not strong enough and called for him to be sacked.

The town hall’s Conservative leader has confirmed moves are under way to remove the freedom of Blackburn award, made in 1992. It would be the first time anyone had been stripped of the accolade.

But a close friend Coun Malcolm Doherty said it was a ‘sad situation’ for the former Labour leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council who was a “wonderful servant to the town”

Blackburn MP Jack Straw said the chapter was a “personal tragedy” for Lord Taylor, who has been his friend for 30 years.

After the Sunday Times sting operation in January, Lord Taylor stressed his innocence in an interview with the Lancashire Telegraph, insisting: “My conscience is completely clear.”

Contacted yesterday by the Telegraph, Lord Taylor said: “I am sorry, I have nothing to say. Thank you, bye.”

Tory council leader Michael Lee said the suspension was not enough punishment.

He said: “He should be sacked for abusing his position. I don’t think there’s a case for allowing him to carry on.”

It would take a vote from all 64 councillors in the council chamber to remove Lord Taylor’s status as a freeman of Blackburn.

Coun Lee said: “We are looking at it, but we have to consider the full legal situation, for example whether he has leave to appeal.”

Veteran Liberal Democrat Paul Browne said: “I remember him from his time on the council, and I am glad he’s got his come-uppance.

“The freedom should be taken away, and I will definitely start a council motion. It will be interesting to see how people vote now they know what he has done.”

Mr Straw said: “It’s evident that the Lords committee has considered this matter very seriously and in these circumstances its actions and those of the Labour Party would be the only appropriate course to take. This is a personal tragedy for Lord Taylor himself, who has also given many years of genuine public service.”

Mr Straw said the freedom of the borough debate would be a matter for the council to decide.

Mill Hill councillor Malcolm Doherty said: “I was extremely shocked when I first heard about this. It’s very sad. He was an excellent servant to Blackburn when he was involved here. I spoke to him just after it happened and he was very down.”

Lord Taylor was not at last night’s Mayor Making at Blackburn town hall, an event he has always attended in previous years.

He was believed to be in meetings with his lawyers in London.