Lobbying regulation - chronology 2010-2019
This page lists the history of debates on Lobbying regulation, in Scotland, the UK, the EU and the US.
- Lobbying regulation - chronology 1920s-1980s
- Lobbying regulation - chronology 1990-1999
- Lobbying regulation - chronology 2000-2009
- Lobbying regulation - chronology 2010-2019
2010 - 2019
UK: SpinWatch publishes its report about lobbying within the financial services sector, An Inside Job: A Snapshot of Political Schmoozing by the City. Highlighting the lobbying ‘clout’ of consultancies such as Brunswick and Finsbury, the report also outlines tactics employed by industry bodies such as the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), concluding:
- We currently have no way of knowing what lobbying is under way in relation to banks and the financial sector, and how such lobbying might be harmful to the public interest. Transparency is needed if we're to have government accountability on these issues.
Assistant director of the BBA, Brian Capon, responds saying:
- Of course we talk to ministers and other parliamentary officials - that's part of our job and the two-way communication is valuable in establishing a greater understanding between us. To suggest these meetings are 'secret' simply fuels the media hype that surrounds the issue, which brings us back to the reason why it's important for us to engage in lobbying in the first place - to put forward the industry's views and put the record straight
UK: Cameron says lobbying is next big scandal.
- He said: “Now we all know that expenses has dominated politics for the last year. But if anyone thinks that cleaning up politics means dealing with this alone and then forgetting about it, they are wrong. Because there is another big issue that we can no longer ignore.
- “It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.”
- The Conservative leader said that the “£2 billion industry” has a big presence at Westminster and take in some cases MPs are approached more than 100 times a week by lobbyists.”
The article continued:
- David Miller of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency welcomed Mr Cameron’s admission that something needs to be done about lobbying.
- But he added: “If they are serious about listening to ordinary people, the Conservative Party must pledge to introduce a mandatory register of lobbyists as soon as possible so that the public can see who is lobbying whom, and the extent to which national policies are being influenced by commercial forces.”
The Sunday Times reveals that disgraced ex-MPs will still be able to gain access to Parliament. The article states:
- "No matter whether MPs resign, are pushed or lose their seats, they can still return to the Commons tea-rooms the following week.
- The Sunday Times can disclose that a secret deal has been struck so that almost all former MPs are now entitled to a pass giving them special access to the Houses of Parliament for the rest of their lives."
UK: The Observer reports that ‘David Cameron’s drive to clean up politics is facing an embarrassing test’. It emerged that numerous prospective Tory MPs – including Priti Patel, Penny Mordaunt, and George Eustice - failed to declare in their election campaign material that they work for lobbying firms on behalf of big business. These ‘secret lobbyist candidates’ are the subject of an online ‘advertising blitz’ orchestrated by campaign group 38 Degrees. Nick Mathiason notes that:
- The Observer is aware of a significant number of parliamentary candidates who will be unmasked in coming days as part of a co-ordinated campaign by SpinWatch and 38 Degrees aimed at introducing a statutory register of interests. This would force lobby firms and parliamentary candidates to clarify who they represent and work for.
UK: Channel 4 broadcast Dispatches - 'Politicians for Hire' which reveals how 'politicians are offering to help companies and lobby the government for salaries of up to £5,000 a day'.
The Guardian reports:
- Three former cabinet ministers, Geoff Hoon, Stephen Byers and Patricia Hewitt were suspended from the Parliamentary Labour party last night in an unprecedented crack down on sleaze.
- The move was implemented by the party's chief whip, Nick Brown, and fuelled by backbench revulsion at claims that the trio had been using their ministerial experience to seek profitable lobbying consultancies.
- The decision was taken by Number 10 after party officials watched a Channel 4 programme which secretly recorded the former ministers expressing a desire to work for a consultancy firm at a fee of up to £5,000 a day. Byers, the former cabinet minister, described himself as a "cab for hire".
UK: Following the March 2010 Sunday Times and Dispatches joint exposé - in which senior politicians were recorded offering to help the private sector lobby the government - the Labour Government made an announcement on 22 March 2010 outlining its commitment to the introduction of a statutory register of lobbyists. In an interview for Sky News, Foreign Secretary David Miliband remarked that ‘the Labour manifesto is going to say more about the need for a statutory register of the lobbying industry, because there is absolutely no room for the sort of innuendo or promises that seem to have been floated in this case’. Prior to the negative headlines, David Singleton of PR Week writes, ‘Labour insiders admitted the party had merely been 'considering' making a statutory code as a manifesto commitment’
The Labour Government was not, however, alone in their attempts at damage limitation. Lobbyists were similarly provoked into ‘an impromptu PR offensive’ with the aim of salvaging the industry's reputation. At the forefront of this were CIPR's former president Lionel Zetter and Warwick Smith of College Public Policy, who duly produced a series of ‘key media lines’ for those required to discuss the issue: ‘This is not about lobbyists; none were involved’; ‘It is about politicians doing things for which they were not elected’; ‘You can be a lobbyist or a legislator, but not both’; ‘It is frustrating that politicians are proposing tougher regulation of the industry when this issue is all about them, and the UK industry has put its house in order’.
Despite their best attempts to avoid this ‘tougher regulation of the industry’, Labour's plans for a statutory register of lobbyists were already in motion. Cabinet Office minister Angela Evans Smith wrote to Sir Philip Mawer, Chairman of UKPAC's Implementation Group, saying:
- As you know we have taken the decision to have a statutory register of lobbyists. The work that you and the Council are doing to produce a voluntary register will help in the work of delivering a statutory register and I would encourage those who are considering signing up to the voluntary register to do so.
Writing in Public Affairs News, Mark Adams (Deputy Chairman of UKPAC's Implementation Group) responded, arguing that:
- [T]here are some serious issues about a statutory register that must be addressed. How will the enforcement of a statutory register be paid for? If, as some have argued, it is to be paid for by the 'lobbying industry', it will introduce an astonishing tax on democracy. Any organisation wishing to make its case to government or Parliament will first have to register and pay a fee to exercise its right to lobby. Is that desirable?
Adams adds that ‘Unlike some of the proposals that have emerged since last weekend from government and others, the PAC is not a knee-jerk reaction to unfavourable headlines. It is the product of careful and measured consideration over many months.’  This sentiment is echoed elsewhere within the industry. Francis Ingham of PRCA describes Labour's response as ‘A shameful, utterly cynical response. One of the worst examples I’ve ever seen of naked politics dressed up as moral outrage.’ Similarly, CIPR's Iain Anderson argues that Labour ‘spun this as a lobbying scandal when there were no lobbyists to be seen’. Tom Spencer from the European Centre for Public Affairs (ECPA) argues that any commitment to a statutory register ‘should not have been made on such a ‘shoot from the hip’ basis’. Alastair Ross from the Association for Scottish Public Affairs (ASPA) suggests that Labour's proposal was ‘knee-jerk and misses the point’. Charles Lewington of Hanover concurs that Labour's plan is ‘a knee-jerk reaction’ Several public affairs professionals do, however, back statutory legislation; such as Eben Black of DLA Piper UK LLP Global Government Relations and Chris Whitehouse of The Whitehouse Consultancy Whereas Francis Ingham of PRCA argues that the Conservatives are ‘right in resisting the temptation to match Labour’s volte face’, Alastair Ross from the Association for Scottish Public Affairs (ASPA) argues that the Conservative position ‘has changed with the public mood’.
Scotland: The Scottish Government refuses to reveal details of the Prince of Wales lobbying activities. The Times reports:
- Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner, has been asked to use his powers to order the Scottish government to hand over any records it holds. The Times asked Edinburgh to provide details of the Prince's lobbying after this newspaper's investigation into sponsorship of his charity by a property developer. The builder wanted to create urban communities in beauty spots across Scotland, including one that would require roads through woodland cherished for its red squirrels. The charitable foundation insisted it worked with private builders to improve practices and enhance quality of life, but it kept its judgment independent.
The Scottish Government responded to the request by stating "We consider that to reveal whether or not this information exists or is held by the Scottish government would reveal personal information about the Prince of Wales in contravention of Regulation 11."
David Miller of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency said "It's nuts. They will never get away with that. Data protection is intended to protect private individuals or the personal details of public figures."
UK: The commitment to a statutory register became one of the concessions made by the Conservatives in securing their coalition with the Liberal Democrats On May 11 2010, a series of agreements was reached between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. With regard to political reform, the agreement document states:
- The parties will tackle lobbying through introducing a statutory register of lobbyists. We also agree to pursue a detailed agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding in order to remove big money from politics.
As PR Week journalist Singleton (2010) observes, the UKPAC ‘is keen to exert influence over ministers' plans for a statutory register of lobbyists by coming up with the first detailed blueprint for such a scheme.’ Accordingly, CIPR's Iain Anderson remarks that ‘It is good news that... UK PAC [is welcomed] as the statutory model'. In an interview with PR Week, Elizabeth France commented that her organisation's aim is
- a smooth transition between the self-regulating approach and the introduction of a statutory register. That will require us to understand the scope of the register envisaged by the Government and to see how far we can reach agreement to anticipate it.
UK: Despite UKPAC favouring self-regulation, a ComRes poll of 285 public affairs practitioners published by Public Affairs News finds that a majority of lobbyists now support a statutory register. Sixty-two per cent of respondents supported the statutory register, with 20 per cent undecided and 17 per cent opposed. Furthermore, of those polled, only 55 per cent were 'familiar' with UKPAC; with 53 per cent believing that UKPAC still has time to play a role within the industry. Commenting on the findings, the APPC remarked that: [T]he results reflect the wide array of views among PA professionals and, indeed, APPC members. We believe that self-regulation works and that UK PAC has a vital role to play in extending transparency across the wider industry. Nevertheless, the APPC is not necessarily antagonistic towards a statutory system of registration. The PRCA, on the other hand, responded saying: We are loathe to be dismissive of any poll, but the picture it paints of industry enthusiasm for government action bears little relation to the reality we see. The simple, settled majority view of the industry is that self-regulation works.
A poll of lobbying firms carried out by the APPC yielded similar results. While three quarters of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that self-regulation was working, the same proportion would support a statutory register - only if it included all lobbyists. While 64% of those polled agreed that a statutory register would be more effective than self-regulation, 83% were in favour of the ethics and activities of lobbyists being regulated by an umbrella body established by trade associations - rather than by a mandatory regulation introduced by the Government
UK: Labour MP for Wigan Lisa Nandy submits a written question about the timeline of plans for the statutory register to the Conservatives' Mark Harper. Nandy remarks: It was one of the pledges in the Coalition Agreement [published by the Conservatives/Lib Dems in May] that raised more questions than it answered. I’m keen to see more transparency in politics but it’s not at all clear from the detail released so far how the government intends to achieve it. In responding, Harper - who has ministerial responsibility for Political and Constitutional Reform – states: Ministers will meet representatives of the UK Public Affairs Council shortly to discuss how to create the most effective register, on a statutory footing. We hope to publish detailed plans in the autumn.
In total 19 out of 143 Tories and 11 out of 67 new Labour MPs came from a lobbying background. David Miller of SpinWatch said "When people move between being lobbyists to being MPs and ministers, there is a potential conflict of interest. There's a cooling off period when they leave - but that's not statutory. There should be a cooling off period beforehand as well."
"Given that Cameron was in PR and Clegg was a professional lobbyist, the question is whether businesses have special access as the result of those relationships."
UK: Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins lodges the following Early Day Motion regarding a statutory register of lobbyists, attracting 104 signatures:
- That this House notes the commitment by the new coalition Government to establish a statutory register of lobbyists; recalls the personal commitment of the Deputy Prime Minister to introduce a statutory register; believes that such a register should be independently managed and enforced, that it should include information provided by both lobbyists and those being lobbied and provisions ensuring effective financial disclosure; and calls on the Government to bring forward the necessary legislation as a matter of urgency.
UK: The UK Public Affairs Council (UKPAC) is officially established. UKPAC is an umbrella organisation formed by representatives from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) and the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA); which ostensibly ‘promotes and upholds effective self-regulation for those engaged in public affairs’ by the means of the quarterly publication of a voluntary register of lobbyists. UKPAC employs the following definition of lobbying:
- Lobbying means in a professional capacity, attempting to influence, or advising those who wish to influence, the UK Government, Parliament, the devolved legislatures or administrations, regional or local government or other public bodies on any matter within their competence. This covers members who spend all or a significant amount of their time (for example at least 20% of their professional working time) on lobbying activities. Members who do less than 20% may register at their discretion..
The aim of UKPAC is, according to the official terms of reference:
- to promote public confidence in those who, in a professional capacity, undertake lobbying by encouraging and sustaining high ethical standards, transparency and accountability amongst those whom the Council regulates. It will offer a system of voluntary regulation to ensure that all those involved in lobbying institutions of government can be governed by a clear set of principles, underpinned by enforceable Codes of Conduct. Further, it will assist public confidence by establishing a publicly accessible Register of those involved in lobbying, indicating the organisations on whose behalf they are lobbying.
The CIPR ‘sees UK PAC as an opportunity to create a meaningful register which distinguishes between those [lobbyists] who are ethical and transparent, and those who are not’.. However, the self-regulatory model espoused by UKPAC has been subject to extensive criticism. Speaking following the launch of UKPAC, Tamasin Cave of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (ALT) - a coalition of civil society groups which campaigns for a mandatory register - remarked that:
- This is the old system of self-regulation by another name, a system that was described last year by the influential Public Administration Select Committee as 'little better than the emperor’s new clothes'. Recent events show such a voluntary system to be totally ineffective. UKPAC is yesterday's solution. Joining UKPAC is voluntary, which means that lobbyists will continue to hide who they are lobbying for simply by not signing up. As a result, the public will stay in the dark over who is lobbying to change government policy, whether it’s defence companies bidding for multi-million pound contracts, private healthcare companies influencing NHS decisions, or supermarkets fighting new labeling rules.
UK: Labour MP Austin Mitchell lodges the following Early Day Motion regarding a statutory register of lobbyists, attracting 21 signatures:
- That this House welcomes the commitment by the Coalition Government to introduce a statutory register of political lobbyists; notes that a recent ComRes survey finds that such an approach would have the support of 62 per cent. of lobbyists; expresses its concern, however, that unless underpinned by a statutory code of ethical practice to which registrants would have to adhere, the implied credibility of statutory registration could be enjoyed by practitioners who do not act ethically and who indeed may even breach the law; observes that such a situation would be completely unacceptable; and urges the Government to ensure that from the moment of its introduction the registration process includes a specific obligation to comply with statutory ethical principles.
UK: The Coalition Government publishes a report on July 27th 2010 outlining target dates for political reform. As part of its measures to improve transparency, the report indicates that the process to introduce legislation to implement a statutory register would commence on November 2011.
UK: The debate turns to the role of think-tanks within lobbying legislation. The blueprints developed by UK PAC as yet omit think-tanks from a statutory register. The (voluntary) register employed by the European Commission, on the other hand, features a sub-category for think-tanks; with 95 currently registered. However, as Public Affairs News journalist Hall suggests: 'the think-tank landscape is tricky to delineate, populated on its nebulous fringes by some organisations, alliances and councils that are little more than corporate front-groups'.
UK: PR Week reports that CIPR members who lobby are ‘urged to sign up to the UK Public Affairs Council (UKPAC)’s lobby register within the next 10 weeks. Those who fail to register by the end of January will face ‘non-compliance sanctions’ from the CIPR.
The winners of the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2010 are revealed:
- RWE (npower), Goldman Sachs and derivatives lobby group ISDA have been given the dubious honour of being named the Worst EU Lobbyists of 2010. The results of the dual climate and finance categories of the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2010 were revealed today during a ceremony outside the ISDA office in Brussels.
UK: Paul Flynn MP noted the launch event of the UKPAC register on his blog: 'On a very busy day, I called into their woefully unimpressive presentation. I'm glad I did.' Public Affairs News takes up the story:
- The register launched on 1 March at a well-attended event including bosses of some of the country’s largest PA agencies, pack in to the grand committee room off Westminster Hall. But the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (ALT)’s Tamasin Cave and Labour MP Paul Flynn piled in with criticism of the register, saying that it reveals little new information.
- Flynn – who is a member of PASC – followed up various caustic comments at the launch event by writing on his blog that the register was merely “a website of telephone numbers and client names” and that, as a response to PASC’s report, it was “not big, it is on a protozoan scale, a token, a nothing. Paul Flynn MP described the journey made by the industry in what is now more than two years since the public administration select committee (PASC) report into lobbying as “tortuously slow”.”.
In another Public Affairs News article, reporter Ian Hall states:
- "I spoke to numerous senior industry figures the day after the register’s launch and detected a definite change of mood among some of those who, until now, have cautiously defended UKPAC. One usually on-message senior figure described the register’s lack of revelation as embarrassing.
- It may only just have launched, but so long as UKPAC’s register remains in its current form, the Cabinet Office cannot take it seriously as the model government should follow when launching the statutory register.
On his own personal blog, Flynn was scathing of the launch event:
- As a piece of lobbying this event was a disaster. These people are professional bull-shitters. If they cannot promote themselves why should anyone pay them to promote other causes?
EU: The European Parliament begins an investigation into allegations that three MEPs had accepted bribes in return for tabling amendments aimed at watering down financial regulations. The three MEPs were caught in a Sunday Times investigation where journalists posed as banking lobbyists and offered the MEPs cash in exchange for them tabling amendments to financial regulation bills. The three MEPs alleged to have accepted bribes were former Austrian interior minister Ernst Strasser, Romanian former Deputy Prime Minister Adrian Severin and former Slovenian foreign minister Zoran Thaler.
From The Times regarding their investigation:
- In an eight-month Sunday Times investigation, we found that Strasser was one of three MEPs who were prepared secretly to change legislation for money. The two other MEPs' amendments now appear on the parliament's books as the reporters had written them.
- The cash for amendments scandal is set to spark one of the biggest crises in the parliament's 53 years. This weekend Diana Wallis, vice-president of the parliament and a Liberal Democrat MEP, will launch an official investigation.
- Although, the parliament's rules are notoriously lax, they do say "members of parliament shall refrain from accepting any ... gift or benefit in the performance of their duties".
- The European parliament has grown from a discussion forum to one of the most powerful legislative chambers in the world. Split between bases in Brussels and Strasbourg, it scrutinises about 100 pieces of legislation each year.
EU: MEPs vote to support mandatory lobby transparency register. An ALTER-EU press release stated:
- A new common EU Parliament – Commission lobby transparency register is a small step forward, campaigners said today, following its approval by MEPs in the plenary session of the EU Parliament, but they added that further steps are needed to make the new register effective and reliable.
- ALTER-EU said they were pleased that MEPs had voted in plenary to make the new joint lobby transparency register mandatory in the near future and said that such a step was crucial as voluntary registration allowed too many lobby firms to avoid scrutiny. ALTER-EU said it was disappointed there was no majority for a proposal for stricter financial reporting.
UK: PR Week publishes an article regarding a recently formed group that brings together dozens of lobbyists and PR professionals. The 'Conservatives in Communications' will provide unofficial communications advice to the Conservative Party. From PR Week:
- Conservatives in Communications is being led by Lord Guy Black, executive director of the Telegraph Media Group and a former Tory comms director under Michael Howard’s leadership.
- PRWeek understands that the group was launched last month with a drinks reception on the terrace of Tory lobbyist Kevin Bell’s riverside penthouse flat.
- Bell, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, recently stepped down from his role as Fleishman-Hillard’s regional president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
- The group is said to have been initiated by Lionel Zetter, the well-networked lobbyist and former Tory election agent. In 2009, Zetter penned Blue Print – a guide to ‘the policies, principles and personalities of the new Conservative government’.
- It is understood that dozens of lobbyists and corporate PR chiefs attended the drinks reception, along with staffers from Conservative Party Campaign Headquarters.
UK: A Guardian investigation reveals Adam Werritty's involvement in the arrangement of a Dubai meeting between Liam Fox and Harvey Boulter, the boss of Porton Capital. Although not a government employee, Werritty purported to be an official adviser to Fox and had business cards stating such. At the meeting a bitter legal battle between Boulter's Porton Capital and 3M, the US Post-it note maker, was discussed. The Guardian reported:
- Fox has repeatedly denied that he was personally involved in the case but he faces the embarrassment of being forced to give evidence about allegations of blackmail in a US court.
- Werritty, who has been a close friend of Fox's for years and was once a housemate, told Harvey Boulter, the boss of Porton Capital, that Fox would meet him at an upmarket hotel in Dubai to discuss the legal battle with 3M.
- The MoD, which has already been forced into one embarrassing U-turn over this case, had claimed Fox and Boulter met to discuss an "entirely different matter".
- But email correspondence between Werritty and Boulter shows that the MRSA technology, called Acolyte, was on the agenda for the meeting at the five-star Shangri-La hotel in Dubai in June.
The Guardian also reported on a possible blackmail charge brought by 3M lawyers as a result of an email sent by Boulter after the Dubai meeting:
- Just hours after the meeting, Boulter fired off an email to 3M's lawyers. It said: "I had a 45-minute meeting with Dr Liam Fox, the British defence minister on our current favourite topic … As a result of my meeting [with Fox] today you ought to know that David Cameron's cabinet might very shortly be discussing the rather embarrassing situation of George's [George Buckley, 3M's chief executive] knighthood." [See footnote.]
- Boulter suggested that a settlement "at a headline of $30m+ will allow MoD to internally save face".
- As a result of the meeting Fox now faces the threat of being forced to give evidence in a US court, after 3M launched a blackmail lawsuit.
UK: In an effort to overcome their financial difficulties the Liberal Democrats offer lobbyists face-to-face meetings with ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, for a sum of £25,000 a year. The setting up of the so called 'Leaders' Forum' will allow 50 lobbyists to attend lavish dinners with Liberal Democrat frontbenchers in return for their £25,000 payment. The Independent reports:
- Mr Clegg's Leaders' Forum was launched at a private meeting on 28 March, attended by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, and the veteran handshaker Peter Bingle, chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, which sponsored the event.
- In documents provided to lobbyists and obtained by the magazine PR Week, Mr Clegg writes: "We are in government for the first time in almost 70 years and are playing a central role in creating a fairer and more prosperous Britain. I'd like to invite you to join the debate... My colleagues and I want to listen to you and to continue this dialogue.
The Independent continued:
- Tamasin Cave, a spokeswoman for the campaign group SpinWatch, said: "It looks like cash for access. It's privileged access, for cash." But Mr Bingle said the forum was simply an opportunity for businesspeople to get to know the party leaders.
- The Liberal Democrats denied the allegation of cash for access. A spokeswoman said: "Far from it being about access or influence it is an opportunity for us as a party to discuss and explain what we are doing in government and to stimulate conversation on various issues within group settings." The party reaffirmed its commitment to reforming lobbying regulations."
UK: Liam Fox orders his most senior offical at the Ministry of Defence, the permanent secretary Ursula Brennan, to investigate whether he broke the ministerial code over his working relationship with his close friend Adam Werritty. In an interview on the BBC Fox stated "I have asked the permanent secretary to look into these wild allegations"
- My first meeting with Werritty was in early April 2011 (don't recall the exact date) in the Shangri-la hotel in Dubai. We had about one hour together where I briefed him on Cellcrypt and the Acolyte litigation. He offered his assistance to help raise these topics to "the boss". At the end of the meeting he very quickly introduced me to Dr Fox who had just arrived in the lobby – it was a handshake only.
- Over the next months he told me he had briefed the boss and he offered to set up an eventual meeting with Dr Fox to discuss the topics.
UK: The Guardian reveal that political lobbyists helped to facilitate a secretive meeting between Liam Fox and a Dubai-based businessman and were paid thousands of pounds for doing so. Mr. Fox had previously claimed that the meeting had only come about after a chance meeting in a restaurant. The Guardian reported:
- Invoices seen by the Guardian show that Harvey Boulter, the private equity boss at the heart of the growing controversy engulfing Fox, was paying £10,000 a month to lobbyists for help that included brokering the meeting with Fox through Adam Werritty, who claimed to be an "adviser to the Rt Hon Dr Fox MP".
- This latest revelation comes as Fox finally admitted on Sunday that it had been "wrong" for him to meet Boulter, a commercial partner of the Ministry of Defence, in Dubai's five-star Shangri-la hotel without any officials present.
- "I accept that it was a mistake to allow distinctions to be blurred between my professional responsibilities and my personal loyalties to a friend," he said. "I am sorry for this."
- Fox's apology to the prime minister came two months after the Guardian first asked him to explain his relationship with Werritty, who appears to have been operating in Fox's shadow for a decade.
UK: It is revealed that Adam Werritty is to be asked to disclose his full client list and sources of income by the inquiry investigating his close links with the defence secretary, Liam Fox. The Guardian takes up the story:
- When questioned on whether Werritty had a financial relationship with defence companies, Fox's aides said "you need to ask Mr Werritty that" before adding: "He works in international relations, attends security conferences and has private clients."
- Repeatedly asked to say in the Commons whether Werritty had received cash from clients due to his access to him, the normally plain-speaking Fox said: "When it comes to the pecuniary interests of Mr Werritty in those conferences, I am absolutely confident that he was not dependent on any transactional behaviour to maintain his income."
UK: The Labour Party question why £170,000 of taxpayers money is being spent on Liam Fox's three official advisers when it appears he prefers the advice of Adam Werritty, best man at Fox's wedding to Jesme Baird. From The Guardian:
- Fox met Werritty 18 times during overseas trips, where he has met heads of state, ambassadors and dined with General John Allen of US Central Command at a steakhouse in Tampa, Florida. The pair have also met at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall 22 times over the past 16 months.
- Kevan Jones, Labour's defence spokesman, said: "Each day the questions mount up for Liam Fox. He has to explain why he needs Adam Werritty, who appears to be an unofficial adviser, when he has three special advisers costing the taxpayer pay almost £200,000.
- "Adam Werritty has been travelling the world giving the impression he was an official adviser and it would appear Dr Fox has not counteracted this impression. We need answers."
UK: Liam Fox resigns over Werritty scandal.
The defence secretary Liam Fox resigns as media scrutiny of Adam Werritty, the man Fox allowed access to the heart of government and British defence strategy, continues. The role of lobbyists in the whole affair is brought to light by several newspaper investigations. The Guardian reports:
- Downing Street insisted Fox had not been pushed into resigning over the activities of his friend Adam Werritty but it was a decision taken by him with "dignity".
- However, senior figures inside Downing Street were worried that the former defence secretary's position had become untenable when fresh stories emerged in the first editions of newspapers on Thursday night. Cameron's team were alarmed that journalists had began to establish where the funding for Adam Werritty's lobbying activities had come from.
- The Times unearthed a corporate intelligence company with a close interest in Sri Lanka, a property investor who lobbies for Israel and a venture capitalist keen on strong ties to fund the £147,000 bill he notched up on travel and hotels, sometimes including first class travel and five-star hotels.
In his resignation letter Liam Fox said:
- As you know, I have always placed a great deal of importance on accountability and responsibility. As I said in the House of Commons on Monday, I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred. The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this.
UK: An investigation by The Observer reveals that the scandal surrounding Liam Fox's resignation exposes close links between the Conservative Party and a US network of lobbyists, defence hawks and climate change deniers. From the observer:
- At the heart of the complex web linking Fox and his friend Adam Werritty to a raft of businessmen, lobbyists and US neocons is the former defence secretary's defunct charity, Atlantic Bridge, which was set up with the purported aim of "strengthening the special relationship" but is now mired in controversy.
- An Observer investigation reveals that many of those who sat on the Anglo-American charity's board and its executive council, or were employed on its staff, were lobbyists or lawyers with connections to the defence industry and energy interests. Others included powerful businessmen with defence investments and representatives of the gambling industry.
- Fox's organisation, which was wound up last year following a critical Charity Commission report into its activities, formed a partnership with an organisation called the American Legislative Exchange Council. The powerful lobbying organisation, which receives funding from pharmaceutical, weapons and oil interests among others, is heavily funded by the Koch Charitable Foundation whose founder, Charles G. Koch, is one of the most generous donors to the Tea Party movement in the US. In recent years, the Tea Party has become a potent populist force in American politics, associated with controversial stances on global warming.
- Via a series of foundations, Koch and his brother, David, have also given millions of dollars to global warming sceptics, according to Greenpeace.
UK: The BBC reveal that the City of London Police are considering whether to investigate Adam Werritty over possible fraud charges after Labour MP John Mann asks for a probe into allegations Adam Werritty falsely claimed he was an adviser to Liam Fox. The BBC report:
- A City of London Police spokesman confirmed they had received an allegation of fraud.
- "Officers from the force's economic crime directorate will consider the matter and establish whether or not it is appropriate to launch an investigation."
- Mr Mann said he was also considering asking the Electoral Commission - which regulates political parties and their funding - to consider whether Mr Fox should face criminal proceedings over a failure to declare political donations.
- The latest comes after venture capitalist Jon Moulton on Friday said Mr Fox approached him after the election seeking funds for Pargav - a non-profit company set up by Mr Werritty.
UK: In a related development, ministers indicate that David Cameron and the Conservative Party will move forward with plans to regulate political lobbyists in the wake of the Liam Fox and Adam Werritty scandal.
- The notion of self-regulation is already acknowledged by almost everybody to have been tried and to have failed and we need to move fairly rapidly now to the consultation which the government has been promising for some time. It should have happened last year, they are now saying it will be before the end of this year and then next year we’ll get statutory powers to regulate lobbyists and that is the key thing.
UK: The Guardian reveals that government ministers held more than 1,500 meetings with representatives from the corporate sector during the first 10 months of the coalition government. Tamasin Cave of SpinWatch said 'The findings show a massive disparity in ministerial access for different types of groups – corporate interests clearly have privileged access. But these are just the meetings we know about: Conservative ministers in particular are meeting outside interests in a private capacity. This just can't be done when ministers are meeting those who have commercial interests. In this context, private simply means secret.' 
UK: The Independent reveal that Philip Hammond, newly appointed to replace Liam Fox as defence secretary, attended a series of lavish dinners hosted by Michael Hintze, a millionaire hedge fund baron. Hintze, a former Goldman Sachs banker, is listed several times in Hammond's register of interests as a donor. The Independent reports:
- Mr Hintze, one of the richest men in the UK with an estimated fortune of £550 million, donated more than half the budget for a charity, Atlantic Bridge, set up by Liam Fox.
- Yesterday a spokesman for Mr Hammond stressed that the hospitality he had received from Mr Hintze had been properly registered, was above board, and there has been no attempt to hide any aspect of it. The new Defence Secretary is said to like Mr Hintze but does not know him particularly well.
- "These are separate things. There's always been a policy to move to a statutory register (of lobbying). That work has been on-going."
UK: Liam Fox makes his resignation statement in the House of Commons. In his statement Fox attacks the media for its "vindictiveness, even hatred" in their pursuit of him over his links to Adam Werritty.
The parliamentary standards commissioner announces that there will be a fresh investigation into Liam Fox's links with Adam Werritty after a complaint was made by Labour MP John Mann. The Guardian reports:
- John Mann wrote to John Lyon last week asking him to examine allegations that Fox allowed Werritty to live rent-free in his London flat which allowed him to run a business from a property funded by parliamentary allowances.
- A spokesman for Lyon said: "The commissioner has received a complaint from John Mann and he has accepted it."
UK: In a further development Whitehall sources reveal that Adam Werritty and Liam Fox met with representatives of the Israeli secret service, Mossad. The revelation casts serious doubts on Gus O'Donnell's assertion that Adam Werritty had no access to classified information. According to the Independent on Sunday, Mossad believed Adam Werritty to be Liam Fox's chief of staff and was so highly regarded by the Israeli intelligence service that he was able to set up meetings at the highest levels of the Israeli government.
UK: The Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy writes to No 10 demanding the prime minister "reveal the full extent of the wrongdoing which took place at the heart of government". Murphy continued "We still do not know the full facts about the money trail which led to the resignation of the Rt Hon Member for North Somerset, we do not know the true role and motivations of Mr Werritty, and we do not know who exactly in the government met Mr Werritty and whether there was any prior knowledge of the former defence secretary's activities."
UK: The Guardian reveal that Stephen Crouch, a defence lobbyist, gained access to a meeting with the arms sales minister Gerald Howarth, after secretly donating £20,000 to fund Adam Werritty's expenses. The Guardian reports:
- Crouch, a Tory donor and activist, has links with former special forces officers such as Tony Buckingham, who now runs Heritage Oil, and Tim Spicer, who runs the Aegis security company in Iraq. Crouch is on record lobbying for contracts in Iraq, in association with a former MI6 officer, Rupert Bowen, and a former UK ambassador to the Middle East, Julian Walker.
The Guardian reveal more details about the meeting between Crouch and Howarth:
- According to the Ministry of Defence, the meeting Crouch arranged with Howarth on 27 September took place with no officials present. The MoD said: "The cabinet secretary has recommended that in future where discussions take place with external organisations … where an official is not present, ministers should inform their department."
The revelation that a second defence minister (Howarth) had met one of Werritty's sercretive donars led to fresh calls from the Labour Party to renew the investigation into Adam Werritty. The Guardian takes up the story:
- Kevan Jones, shadow defence minister, said revelations over Howarth's meeting with Crouch showed the PM had allowed wrongdoing to take place on his watch.
- "The prime minister has for weeks said all questions would be answered but instead we have only had new allegations," Jones said.
- "It appears another defence minister may have broken the ministerial code and has links to Adam Werritty. We need a full explanation as to how this meeting was arranged and why no civil servants were present. If it was discovered that anyone was profiting from these connections this would be extremely serious."
UK: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism secretly recorded lobbying firm Bell Pottinger boasting about its access to the heart of government and its use of 'dark arts' in influencing public opinion. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism's website highlights the claims made by senior executives of Bell Pottinger:
- Claiming they have used their access to Downing Street to persuade David Cameron to speak to the Chinese premier on behalf of one of their business clients, within 24 hours of asking him to do so.
- Suggesting the company could manipulate Google results to ‘drown out’ negative coverage of human rights violations and child labour;
- Saying it was possible to use MPs known to be critical of investigative programmes to attack their reporting for minor errors.
In one of the videos, Tim Collins, managing director of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, is heard to say "I've been working with people like Steve Hilton, David Cameron, George Osborne for 20 years-plus. There is not a problem getting the messages through".
UK: Wikipedia has suspended at least 10 accounts which it believes were used by lobbying company Bell Pottinger to alter and manipulate entries on the Wikipedia site. Blogger Tim Ireland discovered activity by a Wikipedia user named 'Biggleswiki' and found that the account was used to amend hundreds of entries related to Bell Pottinger clients.
Bell Pottinger has admitted to altering entries on the site but said it had 'never done anything illegal'. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said 'I've never seen a case like this. In general when I speak to PR firms they have ethical guidelines that would prevent this kind of conduct.' 
Scotland: Donald Trump puts on hold all future plans for his luxury golf resort until a decision is made on a small wind-power project. The 11 turbine wind farm is to be situated off the Aberdeenshire coastline near Trump's Menie estate. Trump said:
- "All further plans for future development, including the hotel, are now on hold until the Scottish government makes a decision on the application for the European offshore wind deployment centre submitted by Vattenfall and Areg (Aberdeen renewable energy group).
- "If the north-east of Scotland is serious about tourism and creating a global golf destination it cannot allow the coastline to be ruined by an ugly industrial park (11 64-storey test turbines) directly off the shoreline."
Trump's proposed £1 billion golf resort has courted controversy ever since it was announced. The plans were rejected by Aberdeenshire Council's Infrastructrure Services Committee in November 2007 only for that decision to be overturned by the Scottish Government in November 2008.
Concerns over environmental damage to the unique sand dune system on the Aberdeenshire coastline and allegations of bullying of local residents who oppose the resort and of Aberdeenshire Council itself have only further added to the controversy.
UK: UK Government publishes lobby register consultation paper.
The UK Government publishes its consultation paper on the introduction of a statutory register of lobbyists. The paper can be read in its entirety here. Under the proposals outlined in the paper, companies who directly employ lobbyists wouldn't need to register their work on the register. Only third-party lobbying firms would have to declare their clients on the register. Trade Unions and charities may also be required to sign up to the register.
Lobbyists would also not be required to declare which areas of policy they are seeking to influence or declare how much they are paid for their work. Tamasin Cave from the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency said of the proposals: 'They are a nonsense. They are fundamentally flawed and have the lobbyists' fingerprints all over them. We need a statutory register to require lobbyists to reveal who is lobbying whom, what they are seeking to influence and how much money they are spending. Anything less and we can assume the Government is putting the interests of their friends in the influence industry above public demands for full transparency.'
UK: Chemistry Club 'cash-for-access' revealed.
The 'Cash for access' issue surfaces once again in an article by The Guardian. It is revealed that members of the government have attended invitation-only events organised by the Chemistry Club, a company specialising in networking. The Guardian reports:
- Companies have been paying up to £1,800 a head to meet ministers, senior government advisers and MPs at a series of networking events previously banned by the Cabinet Office.
- The chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, policing minister, Nick Herbert, and climate change minister, Lord Taylor, have all addressed the exclusive invite-only events, organised by a networking business called the Chemistry Club, and usually hosted at the high-end Sartoria restaurant in Mayfair, London.
- Senior MPs from backbench committees have also attended the events, as have senior civil servants and special advisers from the Treasury, Home Office, Ministry of Defence, Department of Energy and Climate Change and other key departments.
At an event in October 2011, Danny Alexander, along with civil servants from the Department of Health, the Ministry of Defence and Department of Energy and Climate Change, met with representatives of energy companies EDF and Gazprom, defence manufacturer EADS and communications giants Vodafone and Google.
The Cabinet Office had previously issued guidance to departments back in August 2010 informing civil servants not to attend Chemistry Club events. However, The Guardian revealed that public figures from governmental departments and public bodies, including the Metropolitan Police and GCHQ, had attended Chemistry Club events as soon as one month after the guidance had been given. Following discussions with the Chemistry Club the Cabinet Office subsequently overturned its previous ruling and civil servants were once more allowed to attend events organised by the networking company.
Labour's Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, Jon Trickett MP, said 'These revelations leave serious questions for David Cameron to answer if he is to avoid the suspicion that lobbyists believe they can buy influence with his government.'
UK: Further Chemistry Club revelations.
The Guardian reveals more details on how the Chemistry Club organises its invitation-only, £1,800-a-head networking events. The Guardian reports:
- According to one FTSE 100 executive who did not wish to be named, corporate executives attending the events are sent a guest list – including the names of senior civil servants who attend for free – 10 days in advance of the evenings, and are invited to signal who they wish to meet.
- "You tick off in order of priority – high, medium, low – who you would like to meet on the evening," he said.
- "There will always be two or three people on a list like that that you know you will definitely want to have a conversation with."
- On arrival at the events, usually held at the Sartoria restaurant in the heart of Mayfair, executives are greeted with a glass of wine and a Chemistry Club staffer armed with a tablet computer.
- "All the introductions are done through the assistants. They all have little electronic handheld devices with a list of who wants to meet who," the executive continued.
- "It's a database of priorities ... All of a sudden there is a tap on the shoulder and an assistant is saying Mr So-and-so would like five minutes with you."
UK: The Guardian obtain documents showing that Michael Gove, the education secretary, personally made the decision to allocate £2 million of public money to a charity for which Gove himself was an adviser to for four years.  The Community Security Trust (CST) provides "physical security, training and advice for the protection of British Jews." 
David Miller of SpinWatch said "It is blindingly obvious that he should have stood aside, as this is a potential conflict of interest. This is another example of transparency rules in the UK being ineffectual and in serious need of overhaul."
UK / USA: It is revealed that the Royal Bank of Scotland has spent more than £2.5 million in the USA on lobbyists since the bank was bailed out by the UK taxpayer. From the Guardian:
- Both in-house and commercial lobbyists have been paid to influence American senators and congressmen reforming US finance law since the bank's collapse and government bailout in October 2008.
- The money has been handed over despite calls from ministers for RBS and other banks that have received taxpayers' handouts to refrain from hiring public affairs firms.
UK: Eirian Walsh-Atkins, head of the Constitutional Reform unit and the official responsible for drawing up plans to regulate lobbying met the lobbying industry four times in the run up to the Government's consultation paper but refused to meet with campaigners calling for reform of the industry. Walsh-Atkins met with the UK Public Affairs Council (UKPAC) four times since September 2010 but refused to meet either Unlock Democracy or the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency.
EU: EU Commissioner Viviane Reding claims that the new regulations on digital privacy were subject to the most intense lobbying she had ever witnessed. Reding stated 'The lobbying from all sides has been fierce – absolutely fierce – I have not seen such a heavy lobbying operation. But the legislation was on the table on the 25th January as I wanted to have it. So much to the efficiency of lobbying'.
The regulation aims to harmonise how data across all 27 member EU states is treated and would give data protection authorities the power to impose fines on companies who breached the new regulations.
UK / Wales: Opposition parties in Wales call on the Welsh government to publish details of its meetings with lobbyists. At present the UK government publishes an online list of meetings between ministers and lobbyists and are considering the introduction of statutory register of lobbyists.
The Liberal Democrats urged the Welsh government to show 'leadership' and draw up a list of the meetings with lobbyists. Lib Dem AM Eluned Parrott, said: "If you have nothing to hide, let us see what is going on behind the closed doors in the Welsh government.
UK: A freedom of information request seeking to reveal the identity of a major funder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a climate change sceptic thinktank, is refused on the basis that the GWPF is not 'influential' enough to warrant such a disclosure.
The freedom of information request had been made by Brendan Montague, an investigative journalist, after the GWPF received a £50,000 donation when it was launched in 2009. The Guardian reports:
- As part of his supporting evidence, Montague had gathered statements from prominent climate scientists, including Nasa's James Hansen, arguing that GWPF routinely misrepresents and casts doubt on climate science. Montague also argued that it was in the public interest to know if GWPF receives any funding from fossil fuel interests.
- Before the case was heard by the tribunal, Lord Lawson told the Guardian that he had "no intention of responding to Mr Montague's political attack on me and on the GWPF".
- Lawson did, however, refer to an earlier statement he published last year alongside the foundation's first set of accounts, which revealed that it received an income of £503,302 in its first year and had no more than 80 paying members. In the statement, he said: "The soil we till is highly controversial, and anyone who puts their head above the parapet has to be prepared to endure a degree of public vilification. For that reason we offer all our donors the protection of anonymity." 
UK: The National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) changes its position on the statutory register and now believes that charities shouldn't be required to sign up to it. The chief executive of NCVO, Sir Stuart Etherington, said 'Basically it’s so weak now there’s no point in us joining it. This register brings the private sector up to the level of charities and in-house lobbyists level of transparency, by making clear who they represent - but the proposals do not add anything additional for charities.' Etherington went on to say 'If the purpose is merely to ensure transparency for multi-client agencies there is no rationale for charities to be part of it. If the purpose of the register is to inform the public of who is influencing policy, then in-house lobbyists, including charities, should be included.'
UK: The Labour Party indicates that the proposed statutory register for lobbyists should include information on how much companies are spending on lobbying. The consultation paper put forward by the government in January 2012 stated 'the Government is not persuaded that requiring financial information would be justified. It is more important to know who is lobbying and for whom than to know the cost.'
However Labour's shadow Cabinet Office minister John Trickett said 'In the United States, the Lobbying Disclosure Act 1995 requires that spend over $10,000 on lobbying activities needs to be detailed. Although the exact de minimus financial threshold can be debated, it is clear that financial information needs to be detailed. Read alongside ministers’ diaries that are required to be disclosed, financial information provides an audit trail of how much has been paid to access and influence parliamentarians.'
UK: Sir Christopher Kelly, Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, states that David Cameron 'almost certainly' broke the ministerial code over the investigation into Liam Fox's relationship with his friend Adam Werritty. Cameron appointed the then Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell to conduct the investigation rather than Sir Philip Mawer, the prime minister's then adviser on ministerial interests. The Guardian reports:
- Kelly told the public administration select committee on Tuesday that Cameron had probably broken the rules and called for a change to allow the adviser on ministerial interests to launch inquiries on his own initiative, rather than having to wait for the prime minister to ask him to investigate.
- "On this occasion, I think [Mawer] should have been employed. Indeed, I think it was almost certainly a breach of the ministerial code that he was not employed.
- "The view of the committee [on standards in public life] is that there is advantage in this post existing and if it is going to exist, it has to be used in the way that was envisaged.
- "Just like the parliamentary commissioner [on standards], the adviser should be able to initiate inquiries of their own where there is a prima facie case to investigate, whereas at the moment he is only able to do so at the request of the prime minister."
UK: Chancellor George Osborne asks company bosses to directly lobby employment minister Norman Lamb over plans to make it easier for small businesses to fire staff. The proposed plans would remove restrictions on laying off staff for companies with fewer than 10 employees.
Osborne said 'We’re beginning a call for evidence on the case for a new Compensated No Fault Dismissal for our smallest businesses. Plenty of trade unions and others will be submitting their evidence for why we shouldn’t do this. If you think we should, and it will increase employment, then don’t wait for someone else to send in the evidence. Send it in yourself.'
EU: Nuclear lobby keep up pressure after Fukushima.
One year on from the Fukushima nuclear disaster the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) publish a report highlighting the extensive lobbying by the nuclear industry in its attempt to keep nuclear power high on the EU's agenda. CEO states that 'The lobby is so powerful that, despite Fukushima, nuclear remains at the heart of European Commission’s proposals for a clean energy future. Meanwhile over in the European Parliament, some policy analysts believe that the nuclear lobby is even more powerful within the parliament than it was before. This means that while some member states such as Germany and Italy may be ditching nuclear, in Brussels the industry believes the future still looks bright for nuclear power.'
The full text version of 'Nuclear Contamination. A year after Fukushima, why does Brussels still back nuclear power?' can be viewed here.
UK: Government adviser linked to tobacco industry.
The independence of government adviser Mark Littlewood is called into question as details of his links to the tobacco industry are revealed. Anti-smoking campaigners believe Littlewood may influence policy on the proposed introduction of plain cigarette packets. Littlewood is director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). The Independent reports:
- Mr Littlewood is well known for his robust views on anti-smoking legislation and in the past his institute has received funding from the tobacco industry – although it refuses to say whether this is still the case.
- The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health has asked Vince Cable, the Trade and Industry Minister, for reassurances that Mr Littlewood will not be advising on tobacco-related matters because of his "clear conflict of interest".
USA: Top four lobby firms spend more than ever on lobbying.
The world's top four lobbying firms, known as the Big Four, spent more money than ever before on lobbying and political campaigning in the USA during 2011. The Big Four spent significant resources on lobbying the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board which is debating regulatory changes that may have widespread implications for the auditing business. Reuters reports:
- Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers last year spent a combined $9.4 million on in-house and outside lobbyists, according to a Reuters analysis of congressional disclosure reports.
- That is more than in any other year since 2002, the year of the downfall of former Enron Corp auditor Arthur Andersen, when the industry's dominant players fell to four from five. Even going back to 1999, the earliest year for which online reports are available, annual spending by the industry, including Arthur Andersen, was lower than last year's.
UK: Peers links to private healthcare industry revealed.
The Daily Mirror reports that Conservative peers with ties to private healthcare are helping David Cameron push through controversial NHS reforms. The paper reports:
- Ex-Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley, now a director of private medical giant Bupa, is one of those who has turned out to support the reforms. She has taken part in almost two thirds of “divisions” on the Health and Social Care Bill, compared with less than one in four of other recent votes.
- Julia Cumberlege, another ex-health minister who runs a political networking firm dealing “extensively” with the drugs industry, has taken part in almost half the NHS votes, compared with her average attendance of less than one in three.
- And Lord Bell, chair of lobbyists Chime Communications whose clients include Southern Cross, BT Health and AstraZeneca, has taken part in two out of five health divisions compared with his average of around one in seven. Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: “The whole thing stinks from start to finish. Not only have they carved up the NHS in the unelected House of Lords but it was done by people who have vested interests in commercialising the health service.” He called on independent crossbench peers and Lib Dems to seize their last chance to halt the Bill by backing a motion by ex-Labour health minister Lord Owen.
UK: Peter Cruddas cash-for-access claim.
- 'Two hundred grand to 250 is Premier League… what you would get is, when we talk about your donations the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron/Osborne dinners.'
- Cruddas continued 'You do really pick up a lot of information and when you see the Prime Minister, you're seeing David Cameron, not the Prime Minister.
- But within that room everything is confidential - you can ask him practically any question you want.
- If you're unhappy about something, we will listen to you and put it into the policy committee at number 10 - we feed all feedback to the policy committee.' 
- 'Clearly there is no question of donors being able to influence policy or gain undue access to politicians. Specifically, it was categorically not the case that I could offer, or that David Cameron would consider, any access as a result of a donation. Similarly, I have never knowingly even met anyone from the Number 10 policy unit.
- 'But in order to make that clear beyond doubt, I have regrettably decided to resign with immediate effect.' 
Peter Cruddas took libel action against Times Newspapers Ltd over the cash-for-access allegations and successfully won the case on 5 June 2013. The Sunday Times has applied for permission to appeal.
UK: Conservative website: donors offered dinner with Cameron.
The Conservative Party website openly offers donors the opportunity to attend events, including dinners, where David Cameron and other senior Tory figures are present. The website lists a number of donor clubs ranging from 'Party Patrons', which costs a monthly £50 donation, to becoming a member of 'The Leader's Group', which costs £50,000 per annum.
UK: Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office is interviewed on the BBC Today programme regarding the 'cash for access' scandal involving Peter Cruddas. During the interview with the BBC's Evan Davis Maude was pressed to explain why private dinners hosted by David Cameron should not be made available for public scrutiny. Maude responded by saying 'this is a bit of a nonsense'. Maude also stated that donors who were part of The Leader's Group could expect to gain access to the prime minister and other senior party members. Maude claimed there is 'nothing remotely improper or new' about this.
UK: Cameron releases details of meetings with donors.
David Cameron releases details of meetings he has held with Tory donors since the last general election. Cameron admitted that he had hosted a series of private dinners and lunches at Downing Street and Chequers for donors who had given a combined total of £23 million to the Conservative Party. The Guardian reports:
- In a chaotic day, which saw Downing Street embark on a series of U-turns, the Conservative party announced that the controversial donor Lord Ashcroft headed a list of millionaire supporters invited to Chequers over the past two years.
- Hours earlier the Tories admitted that the prime minister hosted a "thank you dinner" in Downing Street in July 2010 for six donors and their wives, plus the Tory co-chair Lord Feldman of Elstree, who have donated a total of £18m to the party. The Chequers donors have given the party a further £5m.
- George Osborne, who vowed to play no role in party fundraising after he became entangled in the so-called "Yachtgate" affair in 2008, was dragged into the row when his office admitted that he has hosted donors at his official Dorneywood country residence.
UK: Conservative Party has received over £100,000 from lobbying industry since General Election.
An analysis of registered donations reveals that the Conservative Party has received more than £100,000 from individuals and companies connected to the lobbying industry since the party has been in government (May 2010). Among the lobbying companies who donated money to the Conservative Party were Hanover Communications, Bell Pottinger Communications, Sovereign Strategy and Huntsworth.
Scotland: Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond faces a formal complaint after hosting SNP donors at his official residence. Salmond hosted Euromillions winners Chris and Colin Weir for tea at his official residence on the 9 September 2011 just four days before they donated £1 million to the SNP. The BBC reports:
- Labour parliamentary business manager Paul Martin said he may have breached rules relating to separation of ministerial and constituency roles, the use of public resources for party political purposes and a duty to record formal meetings.
- Mr Martin has written to former lord advocate Dame Elish Angiolini, an independent adviser on the Scottish ministerial code, to investigate his complaints.
- He said: "It is not befitting of someone holding the office of first minister to chase after Lottery winners and hold tea parties for them at his official residence in a bid to secure donors for his separation campaign.
- The ministerial code states that, "government property should not generally be used for constituency work or party activities".
Under existing Scottish Government disclosure rules only the details of guests who attend lunch, dinner or drinks receptions are required to be published.
UK: Annual accounts for Pargav Limited show that Adam Werritty was paid 'consultancy charges' of £73,850 by the company. Most of the money had come from Tory donors, many of whom had been asked to donate by Liam Fox. Pargav was used to fund many of the overseas trips taken by Werritty where he accompanied the former defence secretary Liam Fox on official government business despite having no official government role. Werritty is currently under investigation over claims that donations to Pargav were solicited or used fraudulently. A spokesman for the City of London Police said: "The City of London police has an ongoing investigation into allegations of fraud made by John Mann MP. Detectives have spoken to a number of people as part of this investigation, but it is not force policy to disclose names. The investigation continues."
UK: David Cameron may have breached the ministerial code after it is revealed that he held a meeting of the Conservative Party Foundation, a Conservative Party fund-raising group, at 10 Downing Street. The meeting took place on 11 January 2011 with David Cameron, Andrew Feldman and another senior Tory present. The meeting was held to discuss the leadership of the foundation. The Conservative Party Foundation allows people to leave tax-free legacies to the Conservative Party. 
Alistair Graham, former chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life said 'It really is unfortunate that the Prime Minister is setting a bad example for his colleagues if, in a cavalier fashion, he is using government resources for party ends.' Graham added 'The ministerial code is there to ensure that when you're involved in your public duty you don't easily confuse what are party political matters and what are essential to carrying out your public office.' 
The Labour Party has called for an investigation into the meeting. Michael Dugher, shadow minister without portfolio said 'This is further evidence that David Cameron is using Government buildings as his own personal fiefdom. This should be investigated and we will certainly be following this up.' 
UK: The Sunday Times reveals further details of its investigation into former Conservative Party treasurer Peter Cruddas. The new details released by The Sunday Times include Cruddas describing that he had direct access to David Cameron on at least 13 occasions and that he had sponsored a charity event at the Prime Minister’s official country residence. Although the event in question was mentioned on a list of meetings released by the Conservative Party, there was no reference to the involvement of Cruddas.
In response to the new revelations a Conservative Party statement said 'The Conservative Party never claimed that it was publishing details of every occasion the Prime Minister had met with a donor and explicitly did not publish details of the Chequers charity opera event in aid of Mencap and other smaller charities.' 
Labour's Jon Trickett, Shadow Cabinet Office minister, said 'This drip, drip of revelations cannot be allowed to continue. We need a full list of all donors met by David Cameron, not just those the Conservatives class as 'significant'.' 
Scotland: Alex Salmond has asked independent advisers to investigate claims that he broke the ministerial code. Salmond invited Euromillions winners Chris and Colin Weir to attend tea at his official residence on the 9th September 2011, just four days before they donated £1 million to the SNP. The BBC reports:
- Mr Salmond said he had written to Dame Elish Angiolini, one of the independent advisers to the ministerial code and a former Lord Advocate, asking her to investigate whether a breach had occurred.
- SNP ministers are also refusing a request under the Freedom of Information Act to release correspondence between them and Sir Brian Souter, the Stagecoach tycoon who has given the party more than £1m.
- Government officials refused to release letters and emails to and from the bus tycoon, who was nominated for a knighthood shortly after making a donation to the SNP.
Scotland: Labour MSP Neil Findlay is to table a members’ bill with the aim of regulating lobbying in or around the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government and government agencies. Findlay said 'I’m a fairly new MSP but since I took office I have noticed that we are being lobbied almost every hour of every day. The Scottish Parliament has had very few lobbying scandals, but as they say in business it’s harder to redeem a reputation than it is to protect it in advance, so hopefully this bill will go some way to protecting the Scottish Parliament from some of the issues we have seen at Westminster.'
- I think we've seen that it is the next big scandal that keeps on coming out of government. We've seen it with the donor scandal, we saw it with the claims that Bell Pottinger made, we've seen it with MPs saying that they're like cabs for hire, Lords willing to accept cash for amendments. There is repeated scandal and the solution to it is to open up lobbying to public scrutiny, to allow people to see what influence people are having over which policies and crucially how much money they are spending in the process.
- Whilst there is still the suspicion and not knowing who is influencing whom then we will continue to get scandals.
UK: Government's register of lobbyists would only cover 5% of lobbyists.
An investigation conducted on behalf of The Independent newspaper found that the government's proposed statutory register of lobbyists would only cover five per cent of lobbyists who were paid to lobby MPs and peers. The Independent reports:
- Full Fact conducted an analysis of the support given to all-party parliamentary groups – ad-hoc groupings of MPs with an interest in a particular subject – that have concerned transparency campaigners for years because of the "back-door access" they allegedly offer to MPs. It concluded that, because the definition of a "lobbyist" used in the Government's proposals is so narrow, only 31 of the 649 benefits declared by all-party groups would have met it. This excludes private individuals, companies and pressure groups only representing the interests of themselves or their members.
- For example, Volvo's £17,192 donation to the parliamentary group on road safety would not require registration as lobbying, and neither would Motorola's £12,900 contribution to the information technology MPs' group.
The Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) clear Bell Pottinger of breaching its Code of Practice following a complaint from lobbyist Mark Adams. The complaint was made in relation to a Bureau of Investigative Journalism investigation into Bell Pottinger’s representation of regimes with poor human rights records. From the PRCA:
- The five-person PPC panel found that there was no credible evidence of wrong-doing on the part of BPPA and that the consultancy’s presentation to the fake client conjured up by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) was fully compliant with the PRCA’s Code of Conduct and best practice guidelines.
- Francis Ingham, PRCA CEO, said afterwards that the BIJ/Independent ‘sting’ had failed in its ostensible purpose but had nevertheless raised points which the PRCA and its members should consider carefully. ‘Whether or not a prospective client is real or fraudulent, and whether or not a camera has been concealed in someone’s handbag, PRCA members should think hard before using language which is vulnerable to wilful or accidental misinterpretation,’ he said.
EU: Lobbyists help big business influence European Citizens' Initiative.
The Independent reveals that lobbying firms Bell Pottinger and Fleishman-Hillard are helping big business exploit the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI). The ECI was set up to help ordinary people get involved in EU law-making. The Independent reports:
- A leaked memo shows that Bell Pottinger, the subject of an undercover investigation published in this newspaper in December last year, has offered to help potential clients set up petitions demanding changes to EU law under the new programme, whose rules specifically bar organisations from doing so.
- And information posted on the website of its fellow lobbyist Fleishman-Hillard shows it too is offering to help businesses hijack the initiative, which came into force on 1 April.
- "They are trying to muscle in. We have done everything we can to try to put safeguards in place to discourage that from happening," said an aide to Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission's vice-president, who is responsible for setting up the initiative.
UK: All-party parliamentary groups receive £1.8m from businesses, overseas governments and lobby groups.
In the past year all-party parliamentary groups received at least £1.8 million in funding, sponsorship and free gifts from businesses, overseas governments and lobbying groups according to a new study by The Guardian newspaper. Over 80 groups issued parliamentary passes to staff with outside interests including lobbying and consultancy firms.
Highlights from The Guardian study include:
- Trips to 27 countries including China, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Taiwan, Thailand, Israel and Lichenstein for members of 15 groups
- A £32,000 donation from BT Global Services to fund concerts for the parliamentary choir
- Contributions totalling more than £117,000 for "associate membership" at £8,400 a time of the all-party group on health, from companies including AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Milliman
- Free membership of Slimming World or WeightWatchers for MPs and Lords. 
David Miller of Spinwatch said 'There are a number of ways to funnel money into all-party groups, none of which are particularly clear. 'Associate memberships, companies banding together to fund groups, and lobbying companies supplying services with no clear ultimate client are all issues. All-party groups perform some useful functions but these have been undermined by lobbying money.' 
UK: Majority of coalition MPs favour lobbying register to include in-house lobbyists.
A clear majority of coalition MPs favour the proposed lobbying register to include in-house teams, trade bodies, NGOs and charities according to a poll conducted by the Populus Parliament Panel.
From a survey of 113 MPs the poll found 68% of Conservative MPs and 75% of Liberal Democrats favoured a register to include in-house public affairs teams. 70% from both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats also favoured the inclusion of trade bodies, trade unions, NGOs and charities.
Support for the inclusion of trade unions, NGOs and charities was significantly less among Labour MPs. Only 38% supported the inclusion of trade unions on the register, 35% for NGOs and 31% for charities. 
USA: American Nazi Party registers first lobbyist.
The American Nazi Party registers its first lobbyist in Washington DC. From the BBC:
- John Bowles, 55, told US media he wanted to address political rights and ballot access and he expected congressmen would accept meetings.
- Lobbying was something the party would "try out for the first time and see if it flies," Mr Bowles told ABC News. He registered as a lobbyist this week.
- Lobbying is a common practice in US politics and lobby groups are required to disclose their interests in detail. 
UK: Committee on Standards in Public Life publish recommendations on lobby register.
In response to the coalition governments consultation on establishing a register of lobbyists, the Committee on Standards in Public Life recommends that government ministers should declare if their spouses are lobbyists and all ministers should disclose the subject of meetings held with lobbyists.
The Committee on Standards in Public Life said 'There has been at least one case in the relatively recent past where the wife of a serving minister was employed as a lobbyist. Such employment should also be noted in the minister’s register of interests.' 
The committee also highlighted a weakness of the proposed register in that only details of 'official' meetings were to be disclosed. The committee said 'We also note that a potential weakness of the current listing of ministerial meetings is that it only covers official meetings. Lobbying can also occur in a range of the private or political party contacts that ministers have with interested individuals. The difficulties in attempting to list all such contacts are obvious. But as long as relevant contacts take place without being acknowledged in the public domain suspicion is likely to continue.' 
UK: The Committee on Standards in Public Life publish a press release in response to the governments proposals for a register of lobbyists. Key points made by the Committee include:
- Convincing reform of lobbying needs to address issues of real public concern. The Committee is not convinced that the transparency of multi-client consultancies is the issue of greatest concern.
- The information in the register about those engaged in lobbying should include former legislators, even where they have not held ministerial positions, and any close relatives of former or serving ministers.
- To make it more easily accessible, consideration should be given to a single data base including relevant information about both lobbyists and ministerial meetings.
- Any contact with ministers which has a bearing on their official duties should be included in the published lists of ministerial meetings, however that contact occurs, not just meetings arranged by their departments.
The full press release can be downloaded here.
UK: Conservative Lord lobbies on behalf of Cayman Islands.
A joint investigation by The Independent and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that Conservative peer David Maclean (Lord Blencathra) is lobbying on behalf of the Cayman Islands government whilst sitting in the House of Lords. Maclean is being paid to represent the interests of the Cayman Islands financial service industry whilst at the same time being able to vote on legislation that affects the territory. The Independent reports:
- In the past few months, Lord Blencathra has:
- Lobbied the Chancellor George Osborne to reduce the burden of air passenger transport taxes on the Caymans.
- Facilitated an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caymans for three senior MPs with an interest in the islands over the Easter recess, including the chairman of the influential Conservative backbench 1922 Committee.
When asked whether his activities were acceptable under the House of Lords code of conduct Maclean responded 'You have confused lobbying Parliament, which I do not do, with lobbying the Government, which I do.' Maclean continued 'I have been meticulous in ensuring that I have no conflict of interest between that role and my duties in the Lords. You cannot point to one single incident, speech, vote or question where I have sought to advance the Cayman Islands in the Lords.'
In a question and answer session in the Cayman Islands on 5 April 2012 Maclean explained who exactly paid his salary. Maclean said 'The Cayman Islands Government – I work for the Cayman Islands government in London not for the UK Government in Cayman: Very clear about that.'  A short news clip of the 5 April 2012 event showing Maclean explaining his role can be viewed here.
The Cayman Islands are amongst the worlds most popular tax havens. Inhabitants of the Caymans are outnumbered by the number of businesses registered there. Seventy percent of all hedge funds are registered in the islands and the Caymans has the 14th highest GDP in the world.
Labour MP Paul Flynn is to refer Conservative peer David Maclean (Lord Blencathra) to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards after it was revealed he was lobbying on behalf of the Cayman Islands government whilst also claiming attendance allowance for his work in the House of Lords. Flynn also said he would be referring Maclean to the Committee for Standards in Public Life. Flynn stated '‘I was mystified by Lord Blencathra’s concept of a distinction between Parliament and Government when it comes to the prohibition on paid lobbying – this is an entirely novel excuse for abusing the system.'
Liberal Democrat President Tim Farron added 'With all the controversy surrounding lobbying and tax at the moment, it’s astonishing that a Tory peer is now the lead advocate in Britain for one of the world’s biggest tax havens.' 
UK: Cruddas complaint over Sunday Times undercover investigation.
Peter Cruddas lodges a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission over a recent Sunday Times story which revealed he had offered access to the Prime Minister David Cameron in return for donations to the Conservative Party.
Editor of the Sunday Times John Witherow said 'This investigation was wholly in the public interest and the use of subterfuge was entirely justified and we will make this clear in a robust defence to the PCC.'
UK: Links between MPs and private healthcare industry revealed.
An analysis of the Lords’ Register of Interests by Social Investigations reveals that almost a fifth of peers who voted on the Health and Social Care Bill, a bill that would open up the NHS to the private sector, have financial interests in companies involved in private healthcare. The analysis found that 1 in 4 Conservative peers, 1 in 6 Labour peers and 1 in 10 Liberal Democrat peers were found to have interests in private healthcare.
The full Social Investigations article can be read here.
UK: News Corp dossier shows contact with ministers.
Emails disclosed during the Leveson Inquiry appear to show that the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his department passed on sensitive information to News Corp relating to its proposed takeover of BSkyB. The Guardian reports:
- Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, has begged the Leveson inquiry to give him a chance to salvage his reputation after emails released by News Corp appeared to show that Hunt and his office passed confidential and market-sensitive information to the Murdoch empire to support its takeover of BSkyB.
- Facing calls from the Labour leader Ed Miliband to resign, Hunt urged Lord Justice Leveson to change his hearings timetable and give him a chance to clear his name.
- As the day-long questioning of James Murdoch ended, Hunt rushed to a meeting with David Cameron and the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to explain the emails and texts that appeared to show he ignored his commitment to MPs to act in a quasi-judicial and impartial capacity over the £8bn bid, one that only failed in the wake of the Milly Dowler phone-hacking furore.
Adam Smith, Special Adviser to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, resigns following the publication of emails at the Leveson Inquiry that show News Corp's public affairs director, Frédéric Michel had received inside information regarding ministers thinking of the proposed Murdoch takeover of BSkyB. In a statement Smith said:
- 'While it was part of my role to keep News Corporation informed throughout the BSkyB bid process, the content and extent of my contact was done without authorisation from the secretary of state. I do not recognise all of what Fred Michel said, but nonetheless I appreciate that my activities at times went too far and have, taken together, created the perception that News Corporation had too close a relationship with the department, contrary to the clear requirements set out by Jeremy Hunt and the permanent secretary that this needed to be a fair and scrupulous process.
- 'Whilst I firmly believe that the process was in fact conducted scrupulously fairly, as a result of my activities it is only right for me to step down as special adviser to Jeremy Hunt.'
Scotland: Salmond to appear before Leveson Inquiry.
Alex Salmond is to appear before the Leveson Inquiry after emails seem to suggest that he was willing to contact Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, 'whenever' News Corp asked him. The revelations occurred on the day James Murdoch gave evidence to the inquiry. The Scotsman reports:
- Alex Salmond offered to lobby UK ministers in support of News International’s takeover of BSkyB “whenever we need him to”, according to e-mails released to the Leveson Inquiry yesterday.
- The First Minister was accused of “hawking himself around” to curry favour after the publication of an e-mail in which a senior executive at the news organisation told the company’s former chairman, James Murdoch, that Mr Salmond would call the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in support of the BSkyB bid.
- Mr Salmond also chased up executives at the news organisation, hoping they could “smooth the way” to ensure the Sun backed the SNP ahead of last year’s Scottish elections, according to a slew of e-mails made available to the inquiry.
- Alex Salmond called. He had a very good dinner with the Editor of Sun in Scotland yesterday.
- The Sun is now keen to back the SNP at the election. The Editor will make his pitch to the Editorial team tomorrow.
- On the Sky bid, he will make himself available to support the debate if consultation is launched.
Scotland: Salmond planned to speak to Hunt over BSkyB bid.
Alex Salmond's spokesman admits that the First Minister planned to speak to Jeremy Hunt regarding Rupert Murdoch's takeover of BSkyB just one day after agreeing a deal for The Sun's backing of his election campaign. The Guardian reports:
- The call – which did not take place – was due to happen the day after Salmond had dinner with the editor of the Scottish Sun, Andy Harries, where the two men cemented a deal for the Sun to endorse Salmond at the Scottish elections.
- After initially refusing to comment, Salmond's spokesman admitted on Wednesday that the first minister had called James Murdoch's right-hand man and News Corp government relations executive, Frédéric Michel, on 3 March, and asked for Murdoch to "smooth the way" for the Sun's endorsement.
The Guardian continues:
- Salmond did not place his call to Hunt because the culture secretary announced on the same day that he was ready to allow the BSkyB deal after winning assurances from Murdoch about the independence of Sky News.
- The admissions came as Salmond came under intense pressure from his opponents at Holyrood to make a full emergency statement on the BSkyB affair, following Hunt's decision to make a statement in the Commons and James Murdoch's evidence to Leveson.
UK: Hunt / News Corp communications given to Leveson Inquiry.
Further pressure mounts on Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt as the Office of Fair Trading provide a dossier to the Leveson Inquiry about the proposed BSkyB takeover. The dossier contains emails and correspondence between Hunt's office and News Corp and includes text messages sent by Hunt to News Corp lobbyist Frédéric Michel. One such text message read 'Hopefully when consultation over we can have a coffee like the old days!' 
UK: 'No plans' to investigate Hunt says No 10.
Downing Street announces that there are 'no plans' to investigate Jeremy Hunt over whether he broke the ministerial code. Hunt's Special Adviser, Adam Smith, resigned on 25 April 2012 after News Corp emails showed a close relationship existed between Hunt's department and News Corp during the proposed takeover of BSkyB. Ed Miliband said 'If he (Hunt) goes, the questions will move to David Cameron's conversations with Rebekah Brooks, with James Murdoch, and others.'
UK: PM's aide discussed BSkyB takeover with News Corp lobbyist.
The Guardian reports that Rohan Silva, a senior aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, discussed Rupert Murdoch's proposed takeover of BSkyB with News Corp lobbyist, Frédéric Michel in December 2010. The Guardian reports:
- An email about the meeting sent to James Murdoch said Michel and "David's adviser" discussed four different matters, including the "Sky transaction".
- The correspondence was produced by Murdoch in his evidence to the Leveson inquiry last week, but it did not name the aide. Silva's position in Cameron's inner circle of advisers will increase pressure on Downing Street to give detailed assurances the prime minister had no involvement in the attempted BSkyB deal.
- Downing Street said on Wednesday that any text or email exchanges between Downing Street and Michel over the BSkyB deal would be released if Lord Justice Leveson asked for them.
David Cameron has repeatedly stated that he had no involvement in the attempted BSkyB deal.
UK: Ruder Finn to provide PR for Maldives regime.
Ruder Finn, a London based lobbying firm, has won a commission to provide both lobbying and public relations expertise to the Maldives regime bringing condemnation from human rights campaigners. The current regime, led by Mohammed Waheed Hassan, came to power in February 2012 following a military coup which toppled the first democratically elected president of the Maldives. The regime has been widely criticised for violence by the security forces against peaceful protesters. The contract won by Ruder Finn is believed to be worth £300,000.
Abbas Faiz, South Asian researcher for Amnesty International said 'If a government hires any firm to whitewash human rights violations with impunity we would be very concerned. I was in the Maldives in March and the level of atrocity that we witnessed was entirely different from what we were being told by the Government'.
EU: Head of EFSA resigns over possible conflict of interest.
The head of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) board, Diana Banati, resigns over a possible conflict of interest because of her close links to the food industry. In 2010 Banati failed to declare her membership of the ILSI Board of Directors. Banati is to move to the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), a lobbying group which acts on behalf of numerous food and biotech multinationals including Danone, Kraft Foods, Monsanto, Nestle and Procter & Gamble.
UK: Andy Coulson appears before the Leveson Inquiry.
Andy Coulson tells the Leveson Inquiry that he met News Corp lobbyist Frédéric Michel 'on a few occasions for coffee including one occasion, possibly, in No.10'. In April 2012 Jeremy Hunt's special adviser Adam Smith resigned following the publication of emails between Smith and Michel which showed that News Corp was being tipped off about developments concerning the Government's scrutinising of the proposed BSkyB bid.
Coulson also revealed that he may have had unsupervised access to top-secret material whilst working for David Cameron despite only having mid-level security clearance. The Guardian reports:
- No 10 has insisted it no has evidence showing Coulson was sent information incorrectly or for which he was not authorised, but when Robert Jay, QC, counsel for the Leveson inquiry, asked if he had unsupervised access to top-secret material, he replied: "I may have done, yes."
- Coulson told the inquiry that he had undergone vetting to "security check" level in order to work inside Downing Street, which is less rigorous than almost all of his predecessors and successors in a similar role.
UK: Lobbying register 'to be introduced by 2015'.
UK: Jeremy Hunt to be investigated over donations.
The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to be investigated over allegations that he failed to register donations from media firms. The investigation follows a complaint made by Labour MP Steve McCabe. The BBC reports:
- Parliamentary standards commissioner John Lyon launched an inquiry after a complaint from a Labour MP.
- It concerns meetings organised by private companies between July 2009 and March 2010, when Mr Hunt and his deputy Ed Vaizey were in opposition.
- These were described as "networking events" where senior Conservatives met figures from the creative industries.
Hunt's deputy Ed Vaizey recorded eight sponsored events between July 2009 and March 2010 where both he and Hunt were present. Hunt did not record any of the events in the register of interests but has since amended the register to show that he attended three out of the eight events recorded by Vaizey.
UK: Hunt BSkyB memo to Cameron published.
- The draft, sent on his private Gmail account to his aide Adam Smith on the afternoon of 19 November, goes much further in explicitly backing the bid than the final, more sanitised draft.
- Hunt demands of the bid: "Why are we trying to stop it?" and claims that if ministers do not back the bid, they could end in the wrong place "politically". Both phrases were removed from the later draft, about which Smith emailed: "Much happier with this version!"
The release of the memo adds to the pressure already on Hunt over his handling of the BSkyB bid. Hunt's special adviser Adam Smith has already resigned over his communications with News Corp lobbyist Frédéric Michel.
UK: The Prime Minister David Cameron strongly defends embattled Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt stating 'The key thing was it wasn't what [Hunt] had said in the past, it was how he was going to do the job. And I think, if you look at how he did the job, he asked for independent advice at every stage and he took that independent advice and he did it in a thoroughly proper way'.
UK: Blair: Murdoch did not lobby me.
- Blair said on Monday that he and Murdoch had "a working relationship until after I left office". After this they became closer and Blair was godfather to Murdoch's daughter Grace, he added.
- He told Lord Justice Leveson that Murdoch "didn't lobby me on media stuff", but said that was "not to say we weren't aware of the positions their companies had", in particular his strong views in opposition to European integration.
- But he said on regulatory matters affecting Murdoch's business directly, "we decided more often against than in favour".
- Lance Price, former Labour and No 10 press officer, had previously described Murdoch as the "24th member of the cabinet".
- Blair said: "Am I saying he's not a powerful figure in the media? Well no, of course he is, and, of course you're aware of what his views are, and that's why I say part of my job was to manage the situation so that you didn't get into a situation where you were shifting policy.
Japan: Nuclear lobby to blame for Fukushima says former PM.
Japan's former Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a parliamentary select committee that Japan's nuclear lobby were largely responsible for the Fukushima disaster. Kan told the committee compared the nuclear lobby to the nations military during the Second World War. Kan said 'Before the war, the military came to have a grip on actual political power. Similarly, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (and other power companies) held sway over the nation’s nuclear administration over the past 40 years.'
Kan defended his handling of the crisis, claiming Tepco had kept his government in the dark over what was happening at Fukushima. Kan said 'We could hardly get information. We couldn’t do anything. It was like a battle against an invisible enemy.'
UK: Jeremy Hunt gives evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.
Embattled Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt gives evidence at the Leveson Inquiry. During the six hours of questioning it is revealed that Hunt, just hours before he was appointed to oversee the Murdoch's proposed BSkyB takeover, sent a text to James Murdoch to congratulate him that the European commission did not object to the takeover on competition grounds. Hunt texted: 'Great and congrats on Brussels, just Ofcom to go!'
Hunt acknowledged that he was generally in favour of the proposed BSkyB takeover prior to being appointed to oversee and judge the deal. Hunt said that once he was appointed he put his personal views aside and was impartial throughout.
Other details to emerge from Hunt's evidence included:
- Hunt contacted George Osborne following the revelations that Vince Cable had declared war on the Murdoch's in secret footage recorded by Sunday Times journalists posing as constituents. Hunt texted Osborne stating 'Just been called by James M. His lawyers are meeting now and saying it calls into question legitimacy of whole process from beginning 'acute bias' etc.' Osborne replied 'I hope you like our solution', the solution being the appointing of Hunt to oversee the News Corp/Sky bid.
- Hunt didn't consider the phone-hacking scandal relevant to the bid until he heard that News International was closing the News of the World following The Guardian's revelations that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked. Hunt had received prior legal advice that the phone-hacking scandal may be relevant as it raised questions of trustworthiness on the part of News Corp management.
- Hunt admitted that he had considered resigning following the disclosure of hundreds of emails and texts between Smith and Michel however decided not to as he had acted 'scrupulously fairly' throughout the process.
- Hunt said that his gmail account was the only account he used and that his departmental emails were looked after by his private office.
UK: Jeremy Hunt will not face ministerial code inquiry.
David Cameron has stated that he will not call for an investigation into whether Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt broke the ministerial code. Following Hunt's evidence at the Leveson Inquiry No.10 decided that Hunt had acted properly when he was responsible for overseeing the BSkyB takeover bid. Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman called the decision not to investigate Hunt as 'disgraceful'.
UK: Labour to call for investigation into Jeremy Hunt.
Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman has said that Labour will use its opposition day debate on Wednesday June 13 to demand that Jeremy Hunt be investigated by the Prime Minister's adviser on the ministerial code, Sir Alex Allan. The Independent reports:
- Labour believes Mr Hunt misled Parliament about his role in the bid for BSkyB and must also take responsibility for the actions of his special adviser Adam Smith who was forced to quit when a slew of damaging emails were released showing close contact with News Corporation lobbyist Fred Michel.
- Ms Harman said: "Jeremy Hunt has broken the ministerial code and misled parliament. It is not acceptable that these rules have been broken and we will call a vote insisting that Jeremy Hunt's breaches of the code are referred to the independent adviser on ministerial interests.
Nick Clegg has refused to give his unequivocal backing to Jeremy Hunt over his handling of the BSkyB takeover as Liberal Democrat MPs and peers join Labour in insisting that Jeremy Hunt is referred to the official adviser on the ministerial code, Sir Alex Allan. Adrian Sanders, the Lib Dems representative on the culture, media and sport select committee said 'The public will accept the verdict from the person who is supposed to investigate these issues far more readily that it will the verdict of the prime minister. What is the point of having an adviser on the ministerial code if you never use him?'
UK: Jeremy Hunt 'acted wisely' says Cameron.
Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show Cameron said 'The advice I was given was that what mattered was not what Jeremy Hunt had said publicly or privately but how he was going to conduct himself during the bid. That's how I think we should judge him: did he adjudicate this bid wisely and fairly? And he did. He took legal advice at every stage, and he followed that legal advice and he did many things that were not in the interests of the Murdochs or BSkyB and that side of things.'
UK: Scotland Yard to investigate Peter Cruddas's claims of cash-for-access.
The Independent reports that Scotland Yard has begun an investigation into claims made by the former Conservative Party treasurer that £250,000 would buy 'premier league' access to the Prime Minister David Cameron. Cruddas resigned after his comments were shown in an undercover video secretly recorded by Sunday Times journalists. Cruddas told the undercover journalists that the donation would be 'awesome for your business' despite knowing that the money would come from a Liechtenstein-based fund. Donations from foreign funds are illegal under current electoral law.
Michael Dugher, Labour's shadow Cabinet Office minister, said 'Allegations that David Cameron's chief fundraiser was attempting to solicit illegal donations and selling access to the Prime Minister called into question the whole integrity of the Government. So it is right that the Metropolitan Police are taking them seriously.
On 15 November 2012 The Independent retracted and apologised for the suggestion Cruddas was under a criminal investigation. As a result Cruddas dropped his threat of libel action against the paper over this claim.
UK: Hunt should have resigned says Lib Dems' Lord Oakeshott.
In the wake of Jeremy Hunt's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry Lord Oakeshott, a Liberal Democrat peer and former member of the coalition government, publicly states that Hunt should have resigned. Oakeshott said that 'no self-respecting minister could possibly carry on' and that 'clearly Mr Hunt should have resigned some time ago'.
UK: John Major: Murdoch 'threatened to drop Tories over Europe'
John Major told the Leveson Inquiry today that Rupert Murdoch threatened to drop his papers support for the Conservative Party unless they changed their policy on Europe. 'It became apparent that Mr Murdoch didn't like our European policies and he wished me to change. If we didn't change our policies, his papers could not and would not support the Conservative government' Major told the inquiry.
- 'Certainly he never asked for anything directly from me but he was not averse to pressing for policy changes. In the runup to the 1997 general election in my third and last meeting with him on 2 February 1997 he made it clear that he disliked my European policies which he wished me to change.
- 'If not, his papers could not and would not support the Conservative government. So far as I recall he made no mention of editorial independence but referred to all his papers as 'we'.
- 'Both Mr Murdoch and I kept our word. I made no change in policy and Mr Murdoch's titles did indeed oppose the Conservative Party. It came as no surprise to me when soon after our meeting the Sun newspaper announced its support for Labour'.
UK: Finance industry spent £92m lobbying for favourable policy changes
An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed that the British financial sector spent £92m in 2011 lobbying politicians and regulators, securing many policy victories in the process. The BIJ reports:
- As the industry prepares to fight off renewed calls for root-and-branch reform in response to the Barclays rate-fixing scandal, an investigation by the Bureau has revealed the firepower of the City’s lobbying machine, prompting concern that its scale and influence puts the interests of the wider economy in the shade.
- The Bureau’s four-month study also gained previously undisclosed documents that show how finance lobbyists won a host of important policy changes in Whitehall and Westminster. These include:
- • The neutering of a national not-for-profit pension scheme launching in October that was supposed to benefit millions of low paid and temporary workers.
- • The killing of government plans for a new corporate super-watchdog to police quoted companies.
Tamasin Cave, director of SpinWatch and head of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, said: 'People have long understood the power the finance sector has over British politics. Here, for the first time, we can now see something of its scale and firepower. To spend such enormous sums of money to influence our government, its decisions, and the way this country is run is shocking.'
UK: House of Bankers: 16% of Lords are paid by City firms
An investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed that 124 out of 775 active unelected members of the House of Lords have financial services clients or hold paid positions in finance firms.
UK: Osborne accused over gas lobbyist father-in-law
The Independent reports:
- George Osborne was facing fresh questions yesterday over his controversial push to make Britain a worldwide hub for fossil fuels, after it emerged that his father-in-law is the head of a lobbying organisation for big oil and gas companies.
- Lord Howell of Guildford, who is an energy minister at the Foreign Office, is also the president of the British Institute of Energy Economics (BIEE), which is sponsored by Shell and BP – prompting suggestions of a conflict of interest.
- Green campaigners demanded to know whether Lord Howell, a former energy secretary under Margaret Thatcher and who was a political influence on the young Mr Osborne, had pressed his son-in-law to promote oil and gas from inside the Treasury while weakening the renewable energy sector.
The article continues:
- Louise Hutchins, senior energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said yesterday: "We'd hate to think that the UK's direction of travel on energy policy was being decided over claret and duck chez Osborne. But Lord Howell's links with big oil and gas special interests are well established. Questions must surely be asked about whether he has been bending the ear of his son-in-law to help his friends in the fossil fuel lobby."
UK: Lobbyists dominating party conference, say senior Tories
Senior members of the Conservative Party have voiced concern over the growing number of lobbyists who attend the party's annual conference. The Guardian reports:
- Tim Yeo, chair of the energy and climate change select committee, said the influx was stifling debate. "Conference has become too dominated by lobbyists and special interest groups, and it is driving away those genuinely interested in party matters," he said.
- One minister said: "The party is making a lot of money off the back of this week. But it might be putting off the rank and file who will, after all, be the ones we will be asking to knock on doors come the next election."
- Meetings with lobbyists have to be declared by ministers or special advisers if organised through official channels in Whitehall, but meetings at party political conferences do not.
UK: Arms firms call up ‘generals for hire’
The Sunday Times releases secretly recorded footage of former military officers offering to lobby on behalf of the defence industry. In response to the revelations Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, states that the ex-officers concerned may have broken official rules on lobbying ministers and former colleagues.
UK: Liam Fox sues over Adam Werritty claims
Conservative MP Liam Fox, who resigned as defense secretary over his working relationship with close friend Adam Werritty, is to sue the Dubai businessman Harvey Boulter. In an interview with Sky News, Boulter claimed that Fox "reprehensibly and dishonourably" failed to tell the truth about a business meeting that took place at a five-star hotel in Dubai.
UK: Labour urges tougher lobbying rules after generals sting
In light of the recent Sunday Times sting (see October 14th above) Labour's Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, said 'The government should consider a tough new code of conduct for the defence industry and lobbyists. There must be sanctions for wrongdoers and deterrents for others. Advocacy is important but it must be totally transparent, which is why we are arguing that companies must disclose their lobbyists and military figures must be open about their meetings. Important rules are in place, but they must be enforceable and strengthened.'
UK: David Cameron adviser Jonathan Luff quits to join payday lender Wonga as lobbyist
David Cameron's adviser on digital strategy, Jonathan Luff, is to quit his Downing Street role to become a lobbyist for Wonga, the controversial short-term money lender. Luff has been given clearance to begin work immediately for the company, raising fresh concerns about the 'revolving door' between government and big business.
UK: Adam Werritty fraud investigation dropped over insufficient evidence
The City of London police have dropped their year-long investigation into possible fraud charges against Adam Werritty due to insufficient evidence. The Guardian reports:
- The City of London police have dropped their year-long investigation into whether Adam Werritty committed fraud by posing as Liam Fox's official adviser.
- Fox resigned as defence secretary last year following revelations surrounding his close working relationship with Werritty, who was not an official adviser, did not have security clearance and allegedly accepted donations as part of his role. The police said the case against Werritty had been dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service advised that there was insufficient evidence to justify criminal charges.
- A spokesman for the CPS said there was not enough evidence to prove that Werritty had acted fraudulently by handing out business cards that falsely described him as "adviser to the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP".
- The CPS added that there was also insufficient evidence that Werritty had "fraudulently used donations to his company because he had used those funds within the parameters he had explained to the donors".
UK: Iain Duncan Smith adviser being paid by thinktank lobbying his department
Iain Duncan Smith's adviser, Philippa Stroud, is being paid by the Centre for Social Justice, a thinktank that Duncan Smith himself set up and one which lobbies his own Department of Work and Pensions. The Guardian reports:
- Duncan Smith set up the Centre for Social Justice in 2004 as a rightwing research and lobby group focusing on poverty as he rebuilt his political career after being ousted as party leader the previous year, but cut active ties with the thinktank when he rejoined government in 2010.
- His policy special adviser, Philippa Stroud, is being paid an income by the CSJ to be co-chair of its board of advisers.
- Stroud was formerly executive director at the CSJ, and the arrangement was cleared by both her department and the Cabinet Office, but her continued paid work for the thinktank has now drawn criticism because of the potential for a direct conflict of interest.
- The special advisers' code of conduct, largely based on the civil service code, stipulates that they "should not receive benefits of any kind which others might reasonably see as compromising their personal judgment or integrity".
Scotland: Calls for lobbyists to declare their dealings with MSPs
A private member’s bill proposing a statutory register of lobbyists has been overwhelmingly endorsed in a public consultation. The bill, put forward by Labour's MSP Neil Findlay, was backed by nearly 90% of respondents. The UK government has already put forward proposals to introduce a register of lobbyists but this would not apply to the Scottish Parliament.
The proposals would create a register that covered in-house lobbyists, public affairs firms, voluntary groups, trades unions and associations and campaign bodies. The register would apply to lobbyists who contact MSPs, ministers, civil servants and executive agencies.
UK: David Cameron's former NHS privatisation adviser becomes lobbyist
The Guardian reports that David Cameron's former adviser on NHS privatisation is now working for lobbying firm MHP Communications:
- Sean Worth, who was No 10's special adviser on health until June, became a part-time strategic adviser to MHP Communications last month.
- The firm's clients include the Priory Group, which sells mental health care services to the NHS; Laing O'Rourke and Interserve, construction firms with hospital private finance initiative interests; and private equity firm Hg Capital, which owns care home operator Voyage Group.
- The disclosure comes amid fears about the close relationship between senior Conservatives and the private health sector as £20bn worth of contracts have come on to the market following ongoing reforms. At least five former advisers to Cameron and chancellor George Osborne now work for lobbying firms with private health clients.
UK: Nuclear lobbyists wined and dined senior civil servants, documents show
Senior civil servants at the Office for Nuclear Development (OND) have received hospitality from representatives from the nuclear industry on dozens of occasions since 2009. The Guardian reports:
- Mark Higson, the OND's chief executive, received his first hospitality in the role just a few weeks after the office's creation with a dinner at the Lancaster hotel in Kensington hosted by Westinghouse, the US nuclear plant construction company, and the Nuclear Industry Association. In the intervening period up to last month, Higson and his colleagues Hergen Haye and Stephen de Souza separately accepted hospitality from a range of companies with a vested interest in the nuclear industry, including Babcock, EDF, Areva, and GE Hitachi, as well as a range of industry consultants and trade associations.
Scotland: Leveson criticises Salmond for offering to lobby on behalf of Murdoch
From the Guardian:
- Lord Justice Leveson has criticised Alex Salmond for being willing to breach the Scottish ministerial code by lobbying on behalf of Rupert Murdoch, while clearing the first minister of any specific wrongdoing.
- The judge said the first minister showed a "striking" willingness to lobby the UK government in favour of Murdoch's buyout of BSkyB, by giving "irrelevant" advice about Scottish jobs, at the same time as negotiating with the Sun newspaper to win its editorial support in the Scottish elections.
- Leveson said Salmond, who insisted throughout his inquiry evidence that he had a duty to protect Scottish jobs, was saved from criticism for acting improperly essentially because he failed to carry through with his promised lobbying of either Vince Cable, the business secretary, or Jeremy Hunt, then culture secretary.
UK: Lib Dem deputy investigated over lobbying
The Independent reports:
- The Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Simon Hughes, is under investigation for allegedly lobbying on behalf of a company that donated thousands of pounds to his local constituency party, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
- The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, John Lyon, has launched an investigation into claims that Mr Hughes broke House of Commons rules by lobbying "public office holders" – and that he failed to register donations made by three companies to the Bermondsey and Old Southwark Liberal Democrats.
- The investigation was sparked by a Labour complaint that Mr Hughes's team did not declare £10,000 given to his local party in May by Southwark Metals when they tried to arrange meetings about a related company's proposal to develop premises for a free school and 160 flats in the area.
UK: Companies Pay MPs In Lobbying Free-For-All At Westminster
The Times reports:
- MPs and peers have received hundreds of thousands of pounds from arms manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and foreign governments to sponsor parliamentary special interest groups.
- Dozens of all-party parliamentary groups have received funding and other benefits from outside organisations during the past 12 months, reaching a total of more than £1 million a year. Many of the groups have produced reports that echo the views of their industry funders and petitioned ministers on policy, raising questions about the relationship with their backers.
The Telegraph added 'Among the examples of such backing from outside bodies is the case of the Associate Parliamentary Health Group, which was allegedly paid over £190,000 from pharmaceutical companies, including GSK, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca. In exchange, the firms were permitted to send representatives to meetings held by the group. The All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group was said to have received £60,000 last year from brewers and other industry figures and organisations.'
Scotland: MSPs fail to follow financial declaration rules on lobbyists
The Scotsman reports that despite strict rules numerous cross-party groups at the Scottish Parliament have failed to declare if they received any financial backing from companies and pressure groups eager to lobby MSPs.
- Out of more than 70 cross-party groups listed at Holyrood – which exist to give MSPs a chance to engage with experts in a particular field – 63 have not filed an annual return setting out donations received or support given.
- They include groups covering industries with major financial interests at stake in legislation at the parliament, including aviation, the brewing industry, construction, oil and gas, and life sciences, prompting fresh calls for a more transparent regime.
- As critics of the system raised fears about “back-door lobbying”, parliamentary authorities last night issued a pointed reminder that all the groups must show publicly any connections they have with trade, industry or charitable bodies.
UK: Ernst & Young lobbies against tax transparency at Downing Street
Accounting firm Ernst & Young have held a top-level lobbying meeting at Downing Street, calling on Prime Minister David Cameron not to support calls for greater financial and tax transparency. Ernst & Young audit the accounts of Google, Amazon and Facebook. All three companies have been in the news recently over their tax arrangements with Amazon and Google both being grilled before the Parliamentary public accounts committee over their tax affairs.
Scotland: Final proposal of the Lobbying Transparency (Scotland) Bill lodged
Neil Findlay (Labour MSP for Lothian) has lodged the Proposed Lobbying Transparency (Scotland) Bill which will require individuals and organisations who lobby relevant public officials and parliamentarians to record relevant information about their lobbying activity in a published register.  A summary of the consultation process can be found here (pdf).
UK: MP Patrick Mercer resigns following BBC Panorama lobbying claims
MP Patrick Mercer resigns from the Conservative Party following a joint BBC and Daily Telegraph undercover investigation in which he was secretly filmed offering to lobby on behalf of Fijian business interests in return for £4,000.
The BBC reports:
- Panorama said Mr Mercer had been approached by a fake company set up by the programme, in conjunction with the Daily Telegraph.
- The fake company, Alistair Andrews Communications, had claimed to lobby on behalf of Fijian business interests for Fiji to be re-admitted to the Commonwealth.
- A clip of Mr Mercer being filmed undercover has been released by Panorama. It shows the MP meeting with an undercover reporter, who was posing as a representative of the fake company.
- Mr Mercer can be heard saying: "I do not charge a great deal of money for these things. I would normally come out at £500 per half day, so £1,000 a day."
- The undercover reporter replies: "Ok fine."
- Panorama said it had paid Mr Mercer £4,000 for working two days a month at a rate of £2,000 per month, but that the money had yet to be declared to the parliamentary authorities.
- In a statement the programme said: "Patrick Mercer MP said he agreed to be a consultant for work he said was outside parliament.
- "But he submitted five parliamentary questions, which were all answered, as well as an early day motion - all in relation to Fiji."
It was also revealed that Mercer agreed to secure a parliamentary pass for one of the journalists posing as a lobbyist, raising fresh questions over potential security implications of the deal. The Telegraph reports:
- In secretly recorded conversations, Mr Mercer admitted that APPGs can be “utterly useless”.
- “Frankly, they can be a way of getting passes for people to get into Parliament,” he said, before going on to explain to an undercover journalist that “when you start an APPG you are allowed to employ one functionary who has a … well, you can have as many as you like but there’s one functionary who gets access to an APPG parliamentary pass.” At a later meeting, Mr Mercer explained that he had “called in my other pass” from someone else he had offered it to.
- “That’s just a question of getting that physically handed back, which means I then have a pass to spare. Which we will take whoever you want, to be whatever appointment you want the person to be.”
- Asked how the person given the pass would be described, the MP replied: “Well I don’t think it matters, you can call her the first aid worker if you want, she will be the secretary, and she will be on my pass.” But he added: “[I would] quite like to meet her at some stage.”
UK: Patrick Mercer's parliamentary questions on Fiji
In recent months Patrick Mercer tabled five parliamentary questions, as well as an Early Day Motion, relating to Fiji and its status with regards to the Commonwealth.
On 26 March, Mercer tabled an Early Day Motion that read:
- "That this House recognises that the government of Fiji is making all reasonable efforts to restore democracy; believes that in the light of ongoing hardship being endured by its businesses, there is no justification for Fiji's continued suspension from the Commonwealth; and, therefore, urges the Government to arrange a ministerial visit in order to help prepare for and assist its readmission."
On 16 May, Mercer asked four parliamentary questions:
- "To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs:
- (1) what discussions his department has had with the government of Fiji about that country's human rights record;
- (2) what discussions his department has had with the government of Fiji about the status of Fiji within the Commonwealth;
- (3) what discussions his department has had with the government of Fiji about the effects on Fiji of its suspension from the Commonwealth;
- (4) what his policy is on the readmission of Fiji to the Commonwealth; and if he will make a statement."
On 20 May, Mercer asked another parliamentary question relating to Fiji:
- "To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the UK's investment in public transport in Fiji; and if he will make a statement."
UK: Lobbying claims: Two peers suspended, one resigns
An undercover Sunday Times investigation has secretly filmed three members of the House of Lords offering to help a fake energy company in return for payment. Ulster Unionist John Laird (Lord Laird) and Labour's Brian Mackenzie (Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate) and John Cunningham (Lord Cunningham) all deny any wrongdoing.
Both Labour peers have been suspended from the party and John Laird has resigned the party whip pending an investigation into the affair. Laird has been caught in two separate undercover investigations in a matter of days, one by the BBC's Panorama and another by the Sunday Times.
The BBC reports on John Laird and the Panorama investigation:
- Lord Laird is alleged to have told reporters posing as lobbyists for a fake company representing business interests in Fiji that he would be interested in accepting a retainer of £2,000 a month.
- He told the Panorama undercover team that he would help start an All Party Parliamentary Group for Fiji. He indicated that he would use the promise of a trip to Fiji as a "bribe" in order to get people to join the group.
- Lord Laird said: "I'll deny having said this, but it's a bribe. The sort of thing I can say to these guys. 'Look, you put that question down now. I thought you were interested in Fiji. Would you like to come down to it, y'know? I believe it's quite nice.' But that's why I can say that."
UK: Lobbying bill will be brought to parliament by end of July, says No 10
Proposals for a statutory register of lobbyists are to be brought before Parliament by the end of July. The announcement comes as a fresh lobbying scandal forced a Conservative MP and an Ulster Unionist peer to resign the party whip and two Labour peers to be suspended after it was alleged they'd breached parliamentary rules.
UK: Cash for questions: Lobbyists stripped of Westminster passes
Following the recent lobbying revelations, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has suspended 80 parliamentary passes. It follows after details emerged that Patrick Mercer had offered a parliamentary pass to journalists posing as lobbyists. More than half of the 80 passes suspended belong to professional lobbyists.
UK: David Cameron is accused of using lobbying scandal to curb Labour’s trade union support
Downing Street has been accused of exploiting the latest lobbying scandal by using the opportunity to curb trade union support for the Labour Party. The Independent reports:
- The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Government would couple plans to limit the amount of money which unions could spend at general elections with moves to bring in a statutory register of lobbyists. They would also force unions to undergo annual audits on the size of their membership.
- But within hours of the announcement, senior Liberal Democrats claimed the proposed anti-union legislation had not been agreed by Nick Clegg and distanced themselves from the official Downing Street briefing.
- Conservative sources had insisted the plans represented Coalition policy – a claim angrily denied by the Lib Dems. “None of what they told you has been agreed in government,” said a senior source. “We will not be part of any sort of grubby political deal to attack the unions.”
UK: Lobbying scandal: some Westminster passes to be banned
House of Commons speaker John Bercow stated that no new Westminster passes are to be issued to researchers of all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs). The Guardian reports:
- In a statement, the Speaker called for "urgent and effective action" after recent press coverage about lobbying of parliamentarians which has led to the suspension, expulsion or resignation of three peers and one MP from their respective parties.
- The House of Commons commission, which is chaired by the Speaker, considered the 83 parliamentary passes that have been issued to staff working for APPGs at a meeting on Monday night. The passes have to be sponsored by peers or MPs.
- The commission has asked the serjeant at arms to:
- • Consider with the administration committee "whether it is necessary or appropriate for this category of passes to exist at all".
- • Demand that applicants for passes provide more information.
- • Ask MPs sponsoring the passes to confirm that they have been properly requested and allocated.
- Bercow said: "As Speaker I have long felt that the operation of all-party parliamentary groups needed to be improved to meet the high expectations of transparency and accountability required in public life. To that end the Lord Speaker and I established a review of APPGs in 2011. Recent events have heightened my concern and underlined the need for urgent and effective action." 
UK: Research reveals £2.2m in 'extras' for MPs and Lords
Guardian research into all-party groups reveals that over £2.2m in sponsorship, research and freebies has been given to all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) by corporations and other interest groups. From The Guardian:
- The value has increased by 22%, up from £1.8m which previous research revealed last year. The number of APPGs has also increased from 450 last year to 589 of these informal cross-party groups, each of which are listed as part of the register of MPs financial interests.
- The 'gifts, benefits and hospitality' received through these groups includes:
- • A grant of £65,000 from BT to support the parliament choir. A full list of choir members is unavailable from their public site which requires a password.
- • A donation of £40,000 from Barclays and £40,000 from Prudential to the Trade and Investment group.
- • The Internet and Communications Technology group has the largest sums at its disposal - £0.2m including donations from Google, Vodafone and BT. Chinese firm Huwei, currently being investigated by parliament's intelligence and security committee for its relationship with BT, also donated £200,000 to the group.
- • The 'continence care' all-party group receives support from the Absorbent Hygiene Products Manufacturers Association which acts as the group's secretariat.
The full data can be viewed here.
UK: Lobby register plans face legal challenge by industry bodies
Government attempts to push through a statutory register of lobbyists could face a legal challenge from industry bodies. PR Week reports:
- Backed by the APPC and CIPR, the PRCA has sought legal advice and is mooting a legal challenge to the Government’s attempts to push through a statutory register of lobbyists that does not include in-house public affairs teams.
- The Government has accelerated plans to create the register in the wake of a series of media stings involving parliamentarians allegedly offering improper influence in exchange for money.
- Francis Ingham, director-general of the PRCA, said excluding in-house staff could break European laws on equality: ‘We think the Government has come up with a proposal that is the worst of all possible worlds.
- ‘This is potentially illegal in that it is discriminatory and says two people doing the same job are treated differently from one another.’
UK: Cash for questions: Promise of MP in pay of lobby group
Further details emerge from the joint Telegraph and BBC Panorama undercover investigation into lobbying. The investigation found that Patrick Mercer was prepared to produce a Parliamentary report for a client paying him £2,000. Mercer also stated that he would speak to a Foreign Office minister regarding the reports conclusions.
UK: Former Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas wins libel action over 'cash for policy' claims
Peter Cruddas, the former Conservative Party co-treasurer, wins his libel case against Times Newspapers Ltd. From the London Evening Standard:
- Former Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas has won his libel action over an allegation in the Sunday Times about charging £250,000 to meet David Cameron.
- The 59-year-old businessman brought an action for defamation and malicious falsehood against Times Newspapers Ltd and two members of the newspaper's Insight team over three articles which appeared in March 2012.
- They appeared after the journalists pretended to be agents for foreign investors who wanted to explore making donations to the party and hired a lobbyist, through whom they arranged to meet Mr Cruddas.
- Unknown to him, said Mr Justice Tugendhat at London's High Court, each reporter carried a concealed camera with an audio recording facility.
UK: Lobby row: Energy policy MP Tim Yeo 'filmed boasting about introducing businessmen to Government'
Tim Yeo, chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, is filmed by undercover reporters claiming he can introduce businessmen to the right people, including Government figures. The Telegraph reports:
- Tim Yeo, the chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, also said he had coached John Smith, managing director of GB Railfreight, before the executive gave evidence to the committee last month. Yeo is a paid director and shareholder of Eurotunnel — the firm’s parent company.
- Mr Yeo was filmed by undercover reporters working for The Sunday Times saying: "I told him [Mr Smith] in advance what to say. Ha-ha."
- When asked if he would be interested in a £7,000-a-day consultancy contract with a solar company, the MP said: "If you want to meet the right people, I can facilitate all those introductions and I use the knowledge I get from what is quite an active network of connections."
- The reporters queried if this included Government figures. Mr Yeo replied "Yes".
- The House of Commons' code of conduct forbids MPs from acting as paid advocates, including by lobbying ministers.
Responding, Tim Yeo issues a statement refuting the allegations. Yeo stated "Today's Sunday Times makes a number of damaging allegations about me. I want to make clear that I totally reject these allegations".
UK: Tim Yeo steps aside as committee chair amid lobbying claims
Following allegations that he offered to advise energy companies in return for money, Tim Yeo has decided to temporarily step down as chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. The Guardian reports:
- Yeo made his decision after it became clear that Labour members of the committee were losing confidence in him and wanted him to step aside.
- He said on Monday that he needed time to concentrate on clearing his name with the parliamentary commissioner for standards, to whom he has referred his case.
UK: Peers cleared of breaching the lobby code
From ITV News:
- Two peers accused of boasting about the way they lobbied top officials to secure military contracts did not break any rules, according to a Whitehall investigation.
- The report cleared the former Head of the Army, Lord Dannatt and former Chief of the Defence staff Lord Stirrup. It dismissed a complaint that they used their influence to secure the contracts for private firms.
UK: Bank lobby needs 'ground rules' to prevent another crisis
The Deputy Governor for prudential regulation calls for a crackdown on 'private lobbying', stating that it had contributed to the financial crash of 2008. Andrew Bailey claimed that 'there was great pressure on regulators to back off because we were in good times.' The Telegraph reports:
- Mr Bailey said lobbying “has increased over the last 20 years” and now threatens to undermine efforts to build a “stable, accountable and transparent institutional structure” at the Bank of England.
- “To do that there have to be ground rules about how things are done and the very large amount of private lobbying is not consistent with having a transparent accountable and open process where we can be held to account, the banks can be held to account, and the government can be held to account,” he said.
- “It makes it all the more hard to achieve a stable institutional structure for regulation.”
UK: Call to broaden register of lobbyists as new figures show extent of meetings
Current government plans to regulate lobbyists would leave the vast majority of the lobbying industry relatively unaffected. The Guardian reports:
- The extent to which government plans to regulate lobbyists will leave the industry unaffected are revealed by new figures which show that business ministers held 988 meetings with outside organisations in 2012, and just two with a formally defined lobbying company.
- In total ministers received hospitality with outside bodies 175 times in 2012 and twice with a lobbying firm according to the figures from the business department.
- Vince Cable, the business secretary, had 106 meetings with outside organisations and none with a lobbying firm. Similarly the business department permanent secretary Martin Donnelly had 36 meetings with outside organisations and one with a lobbyist. The business department is probably the one that lobbyists are most likely to target.
- The only business minister to meet a lobbying agency was Lord Green who meet individuals from Brunswick and Montrose.
- The government is due to publish a bill next Tuesday introducing a statutory register of lobbyists, but draft proposals published last year suggested that the register will exclude the full-time public affairs lobbyists working in-house for companies, or trade associations and charities. But any organisation paid to lobby on behalf of a third party will be required to put its name on the statutory register, along with details of its client list.
UK: Government rejects Labour's cigarette 'U-turn' claim
The government has rejected claims that it has caved in to the tobacco industry after it decided to put on hold plans for the introduction of plain cigarette packaging in England. The BBC reports:
- In an urgent question in the Commons, shadow health minister Dianne Abbott said the "disgraceful" announcement showed the government had "caved in to big business" and the "health of the nation has been sacrificed to the interests of big tobacco".
- "We have to ask on this side of the House what happened," she added. "We suspect that Lynton Crosby happened."
- Mr Crosby's lobbying firm Crosby Textor was employed by British American Tobacco in Australia, but the company said the lobbyists did not work on its campaign against plain packaging there.
UK: David Cameron told to sack strategy chief over link to tobacco giants
In the wake of the government decision to shelve plans to introduce plain packaging on cigarettes, David Cameron faced calls from senior Liberal Democrats to sack Lynton Crosby, the Conservative party's election co-ordinator. Crosby runs an international consultancy, Crosby Textor, which represents the tobacco giant Philip Morris.
Steven Williams, Liberal Democrat MP and chairman of the all-party group on smoking and health, said 'It is a massive conflict of interest to have someone who works for the tobacco industry at the heart of government.'
UK: Ed Miliband demands Lynton Crosby 'conflict of interest' inquiry
The Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for an inquiry into whether Lynton Crosby had any influence over the governments decision to shelve plans for plain cigarette packets. Crosby runs a PR company that represents Philip Morris. The BBC report:
- Labour says Mr Crosby's job advising the Tories on election strategy and his company's work for tobacco giant Philip Morris is a clear conflict of interest.
- Mr Miliband has written to cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to demand an inquiry.
- Mr Cameron and senior ministers insist Mr Crosby has no influence on policy.
- Labour has seized on Mr Crosby's background as a lobbyist for tobacco companies to portray the prime minister as being in the pocket of big business, with Mr Miliband saying Mr Cameron was the prime minister for "Benson and Hedge funds".
It also emerged that tobacco firm Philip Morris International (PMI) held a meeting with government officials in January 2013 over the plain cigarette packaging proposals. PMI told government officials that it was too early to decide whether to follow Australia's introduction of the plain packaging policy.
UK: Cameron challenged over Crosby tobacco links in PMQ
From The Guardian:
- Miliband asked Cameron whether he had ever had a conversation with Crosby about plain cigarette packaging. The prime minister sidestepped the question, saying Crosby had never lobbied him.
- Cameron said: "I'll answer the question. He [Crosby] has never lobbied me on anything. But if he [Miliband] wants a lobbying scandal why doesn't he try the fact that the trade unions buy his policies, buy his candidates, they even bought and paid for his leadership? That is a scandal and he should do something about it."
- Miliband hit back: "The whole of the country will have heard – it is those same weasel words he is sticking to. He can't deny that he had a conversation with Lynton Crosby about this issue.
- "Even by the standards of this prime minister this is a disgraceful episode. His own [MP] for Totnes [Dr Sarah Wollaston] described it as a day of shame for this government.
- "He is the prime minister for Benson and hedge funds and he knows it. Can't he see there is a devastating conflict of interest between having your key adviser raking it in from big tobacco and then advising you not to go ahead with plain packaging?"
UK: David Cameron: I'm not giving any more answers on Lynton Crosby tobacco talks
In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr, David Cameron refuses three times to say whether he talked to Lynton Crosby about the introduction of plain cigarette packaging. Cameron would only say that he was never 'lobbied' by Crosby, who is an official government adviser with links to the tobacco industry.
UK: Tory strategist Lynton Crosby in new lobbying row
From The Guardian:
- The lobbying firm founded by the Tories' chief election strategist, Lynton Crosby, advised private healthcare providers on how to exploit perceived "failings" in the NHS, according to a leaked document obtained by the Guardian.
- The existence of the presentation by Crosby Textor to the H5 Private Healthcare Alliance will add to pressure on David Cameron, who on Sunday declined once again to say whether he discussed tobacco policy with Crosby, whose company advises Philip Morris International.
- Labour warned of a "shocking conflict of interest" involving the man charged with running the Tory general election campaign.
- The leaked document – which consists of slides from a presentation – show that Crosby Textor advised the H5 Private Healthcare Alliance on how to promote themselves amid a highly sensitive debate on the future of the NHS.
- The slides state that people believe the NHS provides good healthcare, though they believe it has "failings" and is "too bureaucratic with long waiting lists". Crosby Textor advised its clients that 63% of those questioned in a poll conducted for the presentation believed that "going private frees up the NHS waiting list".
- The H5 Private Healthcare Alliance advised by Crosby Textor was an umbrella group for private healthcare providers established in December 2010 before the publication of the government's highly controversial health and social care bill. The bill devolved commissioning powers to GPs and relaxed the rules for private providers, though the initial plans were tightened under pressure from the Liberal Democrats.
UK: Just 23% of lobbyists believe they will be captured by statutory lobbying Register
A survey of lobbyists by the Public Relations Consultants Association's (PCRA) public affairs group has revealed that only 23% of those questioned believed they would be included in the government's proposed statutory Register of lobbyists.
UK: Tory adviser Crosby: Cigarette lobby claim false
Lynton Crosby, the Conservative Party election strategist, denies having 'any conversation or discussion' with David Cameron regarding the issue of plain packaging of cigarettes. In a statement issued through Crosby's company CTF Partners he said:
- "The Prime Minister has repeatedly and clearly said that I have never lobbied him on anything, including on the issue of tobacco or plain packaging of cigarettes.
- “What the PM said should be enough for any ordinary person but to avoid any doubt or speculation let me be clear. At no time have I had any conversation or discussion with or lobbied the Prime Minister, or indeed the Health Secretary or the health minister, on plain packaging or tobacco issues.
- “Indeed, any claim that I have sought to improperly use my position as part-time campaign adviser to the Conservative Party is simply false.”
UK: Cash-for-access: £1,750 for access to the Prime Minister’s bed...
Ahead of the Conservative Party Conference, the Tories are offering companies a chance to "room drop" David Cameron in return for money. The Independent reports:
- For just £1,750 companies are being offered the chance to “room drop” David Cameron and other cabinet ministers at this year’s Conservative Party Conference.
- Every day during the conference companies or lobbying firms will be able to pay to have their “message or promotional item” placed on the bed of the 350 most senior Tories staying in the official conference hotel. They can also pay to get messages printed on the Tories’ key cards.
- There appears to be no limits or restrictions on the gifts or messages they supply – and as party conferences don’t count as official government occasions there will be no need to declare the lobbying.
- The innovative fundraising idea is one of many contained in an official Conservative Party sales document which has been distributed to potential sponsors ahead of this year’s annual meeting in Manchester.
- Among other offers is access to the official VIP lounge where “the Cabinet, Government Ministers and senior Party Officials” go to “relax or grab a quick snack”. For £20,000 plus VAT company executives or lobbyists can buy “access to lounge” with “complimentary passes”. They can also brand the lounge with their logo.
UK: Lobbyists take up third of Tory conference seats
Members of the Conservative Party accounted for only 38% of delegates at the party's annual meeting whilst 36% were from companies, charities and other 'exhibitors'.
UK: Report calls for withdrawal of Government's lobbying reforms
A cross party report has labelled the Government's proposed lobbying bill as "seriously flawed" and recommended it be delayed by up to six months to allow it to be improved. From The Independent:
- “Unnecessarily rushed” reforms had failed to address large sections of the lobbying industry, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said in an unflattering report.
- The Government’s planned new laws on third-party political campaigning to prevent future lobbying scandals have been roundly criticised by MPs for being badly thought out and rushed, with one MP labelling them a “dog’s breakfast’.
- Charities and pressure groups could have their websites shut down and their meetings cancelled if they were thought to be in breach of the proposed legislation, the Electoral Commission has warned, while adding the proposals could be an assault on free speech.
EU: Tobacco giant Philip Morris 'spent millions in bid to delay EU legislation'
Confidential documents have revealed the scale of Philip Morris's powerful lobbying operation against a proposed tobacco products directive (TPD), a major piece of European Union legislation that health campaigners say would save lives. The Guardian reports:
- Delaying the directive has been a key goal of the tobacco lobby. Internal PMI EU public affairs briefings from 2011 and 2012 – marked "private and confidential. For internal discussion and illustration purposes only" – show that the tobacco giant, which now employs David Cameron's election strategist Lynton Crosby as a consultant, was intent on derailing the directive.
- In one slide dated 9 August 2012, PMI discusses whether its strategic objective is to "push" (ie remove elements of the directive) or to "delay" it. A company spreadsheet reveals that it used 161 employees and consultants in lobbying. It shows that in the year to June 2012, the lobbyists claimed almost £1.25m in expenses for their meetings with MEPs. The spreadsheet shows that by 22 June last year, 233 MEPs – 31% of the total – had been met by PMI at least once. In a separate spreadsheet, several MEPs are listed as having been met four or five times. Almost half of the European People's Party and European centre-right groups met with PMI's lobbyists, the documents show.
- The internal slides also show how PMI targeted farmers' organisations, retail bodies and trade and business associations to reach high-level decision makers in the European parliament and the European Commission.
- There is also evidence that the company commissioned academic and economic studies to promote its claims.
UK: Energy firms begin lobbying operation against Miliband price-freeze plan
From The Guardian:
- The UK's big six energy companies have already begun deploying a powerful and multi-pronged lobbying operation against Ed Miliband's pledge of a 20-month freeze on consumer bills, according to insiders.
- The firms will use the employees they have already placed on secondments in the heart of government, friendly media and their scores of public affairs experts, sources said, to reinforce the carefully cultivated impression that they are indispensable to the government's plans to create a low-carbon energy system.
- "The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) is under the strong impression that it cannot do the things it wants to do without the big six – it just simply doesn't believe it is possible," one lobbyist said. "Independent generators actually provide a third of the energy, but they say they don't stand a chance because the big six set the policy."
- Current government policy, developed by the Conservatives while in opposition, was heavily influenced by two of the big six, EDF and British Gas-owner Centrica, according to industry sources.
- "They were terribly helpful in spending lots of time writing policy for them," said one source. "EDF and Centrica are now just an offshoot of Decc – they are all so in bed with each other they are indistinguishable."
EU: Philip Morris accused of applying ‘intense pressure’ on MEPs ahead of vote on banning some cigarettes
Philip Morris has been accused of putting extreme pressure on MEPs ahead of an EU vote on the banning of some types of cigarettes. The Independent reports:
- Under plans to be debated in Strasbourg on Monday, menthol and “slim” cigarettes would be banned across the EU while all packs would have to carry health warnings over three quarters of the packaging. But following intense lobbying from Philip Morris International (PMI), the makers of Marlboro, right-wing MEPs have tabled a series of amendments that would gut the directive of its most far-reaching proposals.
- PMI has a contract with the lobbying firm Crosby Textor Fullbrook (CTF) that is partly owned by Lynton Crosby – the Conservative’s chief election strategist. CTF said it could not comment on whether it had been involved in the European lobbying campaign.
- At a briefing in Brussels, Green MEPs revealed details of what they said were internal documents from PMI that showed the extent of their lobbying operation. A company spreadsheet showed that it used 161 employees and consultants in lobbying, and that in the year to June 2012, the lobbyists claimed around €1.25m in expenses for their meetings with MEPs. It also revealed that by 22 June last year, 233 MEPs – 31 per cent of the total – had met PMI at least once. In a separate spreadsheet, several MEPs were listed as having seen PMI four or five times.
UK: Energy rip-off: 'Big Six' firms too close to ministers, says Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband has accused Government ministers of being too close to the Big Six energy companies after it was revealed that they had met representatives from the energy giants 128 times since the Coalition was formed in 2010. During the same time period, ministers met groups representing energy consumers only 26 times.
Ed Miliband said: “The Government’s Lobbying Bill will not capture the big energy lobbyists, who will continue to escape scrutiny. We will bring in a universal register of all professional lobbyists, along with a code of conduct backed by sanctions.”
EU: Merkel on the ropes over claims she has been 'bought' by car lobby
Following a donation from the Quandt dynasty of €690,000 to Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party in early October, Merkel has had to defend herself from accusations of having been "bought" by the German car industry. The Quandt dynasty own BMW and the donation was given just days before European environment ministers gave in to German demands to scrap an agreement to cap car emissions with the German government arguing it would harm its car industry.
UK: New MPs need training on lobbyists, says committee
From the Guardian:
- New MPs and peers could engage in role-playing exercises to help them avoid developing unhealthy relationships with lobbyists, a parliamentary committee has said.
- The committee on standards in public life said scenario-based ethics training could be part of the induction process when a new member first enters parliament.
- It is one of a number of recommendations made to David Cameron by the committee on how to deliver a greater culture of openness and transparency around lobbying of those in public office.
UK: Lobbying bill paused for six weeks to allow government rethink
The Government agrees to pause the lobbying bill in the House of Lords in order to give ministers more time to rethink plans to regulate the way charities campaign, particularly during general elections. An alliance of charities, NGOs and thinktanks oppose the government introduced changes to the regulation of the political activities of charities without prior consultation.
USA: Facebook and Microsoft help fund rightwing lobby network, report finds
The Guardian reports:
- Some of America’s largest technology and telecoms companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and AT&T, are backing a network of self-styled “free-market thinktanks” promoting a radical rightwing agenda in states across the nation, according to a new report by a lobbying watchdog.
- The Center for Media and Democracy asserts that the State Policy Network (SPN), an umbrella group of 64 thinktanks based in each of the 50 states, is acting as a largely beneath-the-radar lobbying machine for major corporations and rightwing donors.
- Its policies include cutting taxes, opposing climate change regulations, advocating reductions in labour protections and the minimum wage, privatising education, restricting voter rights and lobbying for the tobacco industry.
- The network’s $83.2m annual warchest comes from major donors. These include the Koch brothers, the energy tycoons who are a mainstay of Tea Party groups and climate change sceptics; the tobacco company Philip Morris and its parent company Altria Group; the food giant Kraft; and the multinational drugs company GlaxoSmithKline.
- More surprisingly, backers also include Facebook and Microsoft, as well as the telecoms giants AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Verizon.
UK: Activists and MPs take on City’s influence on Parliament
- The campaigners are urging an inquiry into the role of the City Remembrancer, a post dating back to 1571. The incumbent, Paul Double, is entitled to sit in the House of Commons chamber and heads an office with an annual budget of more than £5m.
- His remit is to act as the “formal channel of communication” with Parliament, although it has not disclosed how many meetings Mr Double holds with politicians. There is no suggestion that Mr Double has behaved improperly
- The letter’s signatories say they are concerned the Lobbying Bill, currently going through Parliament, “will not include any measures to monitor or make publicly transparent the constant lobbying activities of the office of the Remembrancer and his staff”.
- Lord Bew is also being asked to examine meetings between representatives of City UK, a lobbying organisation closely linked to the City of London Corporation.
UK: Alcohol pricing: government 'dancing to the tune of drinks industry'
The government was accused of "dancing to the tune of the drinks industry" by senior doctors after it was revealed that health officials and ministers held 130 meetings with alcohol and supermarket lobbyists whilst in the process of considering new pricing controls on alcohol. The Guardian reports:
- An investigation by the British Medical Journal was undertaken after David Cameron backed plans to impose a minimum price per unit of alcohol, and then dropped the policy in July last year over a lack of "concrete evidence" it would reduce harmful drinking.
- The policy had been opposed by several senior ministers over fears it would raise the cost of beer, wine and spirits for shoppers. However, others, including Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Tory MP for Totnes, and Labour, raised concerns about the impact of lobbying by the drinks industry.
- In its new report, the BMJ found only very few of the 130 meetings between the Department of Health and the industry since 2010 were publicly documented because they were mostly with officials, rather than at ministerial level.
- It also found one with Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, and another, with the then public heath minister, Anna Soubry, took place after the end of an official consultation into the policy last year.
- The government said the meetings were entirely proper and there were a similar number with health campaigners, but on Tuesday night, Labour and medical professionals condemned the access given to lobbyists on such a major public health issue.
UK: Peers bid to exempt charities from lobby bill
From The Guardian:
- A former lord chancellor is to lead a cross-party bid to exempt charities from a bill that would impose funding limits on political campaigning.
- Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who served as lord chancellor from 1987-1997, has joined forces with Lord Low of Dalston and the charity lawyer Lord Phillips of Sudbury to table an amendment to the bill. The amendment to the transparency of lobbying, non-party campaigning and trade union administration bill is expected to attract strong support when it is tabled at report stage in the House of Lords on Wednesday. The campaigners are hoping that if the amendment is passed by peers, the government will back down on the grounds that it would struggle to muster support in the Commons to overturn the vote in the upper house.
USA: Google Leads Pack As 10 Tech Firms Pump $61.15 Million Into 2013 Lobbying Efforts
From Consumer Watchdog:
- Google led in lobbying spending by ten tech firms who pumped a combined $61.15 million into efforts to influence federal regulators and lawmakers in 2013, up 15.9 percent from a combined total of $52.78 million, according to records filed with the Clerk of the House this week.
- Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, analyzed the spending records today. “Policymaking in Washington is all about how much money you can throw around,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. “These tech guys are increasingly willing to spend whatever it takes to buy what they want.”
- Google spent $14.06 million on lobbying in 2013, a 14.7 percent decrease from 2012 when it was the target of an antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The Internet giant outspent the second highest spending company on the list, archrival Microsoft, by $3.570 million. Google’s fourth quarter lobbying expenditure was $3.98 million, an increase of 20.3 percent from $3.35 million in 2012.
UK: Lobbying bill passes through House of Lords
The Guardian reports:
- Charities have expressed their disappointment after the government's controversial lobbying bill squeezed through the House of Lords on Tuesday, despite fears it could limit freedom of speech in the run-up to an election.
- Many voluntary groups and trade unions have been campaigning against the legislation, branding it the "gagging bill", because it would put new restrictions on how much they can spend while campaigning on political issues before an election.
- Ministers were forced to back down in several areas after peers rejected key parts of the legislation. Graham Allen, the Labour MP in charge of scrutinising the bill, accused ministers of presenting a "dog's breakfast". But on Tuesday the government won votes on two amendments and tied on another, meaning the bulk of the original proposal will pass into law.
Scotland: Holyrood lobbying register ‘should have no fees’
Charity and union leaders have told MSPs on Holyrood's Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee that there should be no fee for signing up to the proposed register of lobbyists. The Scotsman reports:
- Dave Moxham, deputy general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, stressed if a register was created there should be “no fee” for those registering.
- Jenny Kemp, the co-ordinator for the charity Zero Tolerance, said: “I would say no fee as well, I think that would not align with the founding principles of the Parliament. I think the money for it would have to come from the public purse.”
- Sarah Collier, from Children in Scotland, agreed there should be no charges for registering.
- “No fees, that would be the response given by our members,” she told MSPs on Holyrood’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.
- The committee is considering if a register should be established as part of its inquiry into whether there is a problem with lobbying and access to politicians in Scotland.
UK: House of Lords code of conduct may be tightened up
New proposals from the Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct would mean that any gift, benefit or hospitality worth more than £140 would have to be registered, a reduction from the £500 threshold at present. The Guardian reports:
- The changes would also clarify that it breaches the code of conduct to have demonstrated a "clear willingness" to break the rules, for example by negotiating a deal to provide parliamentary services for payment, even if in the end no money changed hands.
- In December the House of Lords suspended Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate for six months and Lord Laird for four months over lobbying claims.
- The decision followed an investigation by the Sunday Times, which recorded the peers discussing the creation of an all-party group on solar energy with reporters posing as consultants acting for a South Korean solar energy company.
Scotland: Call for probe into health forum link to Big Pharma
The Holyrood Parliament's Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee has been asked to probe two parliamentary health forums administered by businesswoman Jacquie Forde who has links to the drugs industry. The Herald reports:
- The secretariat service for two of the Parliament's cross-party health groups (CPGs) is provided by the head of the Wellbeing Alliance, a body that has worked with pharmaceutical firms. Its CEO, Jacquie Forde, also owns a public affairs firm that has a pharma client.
- CPGs allow politicians and other interested parties to debate areas of common interest, compile reports and flag up issues of public concern.
- However, concerns have been expressed about the role on CPGs of commercial lobbyists and public affairs specialists, who can gain access to MSPs through the groups.
- Forde is listed as secretary and treasurer of the CPG on health inequalities and secretary of the chronic pain group.
- She is also the sole shareholder of the Wellbeing Alliance, a not-for-profit social enterprise set up in October 2012 which lists its address as Newton Terrace in Glasgow.
- Its website describes it as a team, of "public health trained social entrepreneurs who want to make a difference".
- Forde's other firm, Quorate Public Affairs, has the same Glasgow address and was created in the same month as the Alliance.
- Until recently, Forde's social media profile said of Quorate: "We provide high quality public relations and political lobbying services and our team have decades of experience working in and around the disciplines of Pharma, NHS, Media, Politics and Charities."
- It added: "Due to the nature of our base we have particular experience in the Scottish Healthcare market. This includes Market Access involving [the] Scottish Medicines Consortium, Health Boards, Scottish Government and Parliament."
Scotland: Global medical company pay bill for parliament committee's refreshments
From The Herald:
- A Holyrood health group is facing questions after it emerged that a global medical corporation had supported it financially for a number of years, the Sunday Herald can reveal.
- A charity paid for refreshments at the Parliament's cross-party group (CPG) on chronic pain, but the cash had actually come from medical devices giant, Medtronic. The charity stopped providing the CPG's secretariat after senior members of the group questioned the funding arrangement.
- CPGs bring politicians and external groups together, but fears have been expressed about the role of commercial companies on the groups.
- In 2011, as it had done in previous years, Edinburgh-based charity Pain Concern provided the secretariat to the CPG on chronic pain, including £949 worth of food and drink for two meetings that year and one in 2012. However, following the election of new MSP conveners - including Labour's Jackie Baillie, Nationalist John Wilson and latterly Conservative Jackson Carlaw - discussion focused around the source of the funds.
- Pain Concern had received a £1500 grant from Medtronic - a US-based firm that makes products to alleviate physical distress - to fund the meeting refreshments. A Holyrood source said this method of funding triggered a debate within the group.
- At the May 2012 annual general meeting of the CPG, a new secretary was elected and Pain Concern was thanked for its services.
Scotland: Groups campaigning for medicine reform received cash from drug companies
From the Sunday Herald:
- Two campaign groups whose Holyrood petitions led to the Scottish Government creating a new £21 million fund for rare conditions are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The PNH Alliance and Rare Disease UK, which had urged reform of the medicine approval system, received financial support from firms that provide drugs in this area.
Scotland: Big Pharma's links to doctors
According to a Sunday Herald article almost 50% of those who sit on or advise the Scottish Medicines Consortium have interests in drugs companies, sparking concerns the SMC is compromised. The Sunday Herald reports:
- The SMC, which has a £1.5 million taxpayer-funded budget, is the gatekeeper body that makes recommendations to NHS boards on newly licensed medicines. It consists of the SMC itself, its New Drugs Committee (NDC), and a large pool of advisers.
- The NDC makes an initial assessment, after which the SMC issues a judgment. The SMC, comprising clinicians, lay members and members of the [[Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry[[ (ABPI), does not produce an annual report and meets in private.
- The Sunday Herald can now reveal the extensive links between SMC figures and an industry that has a huge commercial interest in the decisions it makes.
- Members of the consortium, the NDC, and the clinical advisers have to provide a declaration of interest revealing links to pharmaceutical companies.
- These are "personal" interests, including consultancies, fees, shares and hospitality, or "non-personal" items, such as grants or fellowships that benefit an individual's department.
- The interests have to be declared annually to the SMC and at meetings. The Scottish Government ratifies new members to the SMC.
- Of the 21 members of the NDC in 2013, around 48% declared some form of interest in the pharmaceutical industry.
UK: Labour pledges to repeal Lobbying Act in transparency drive
The Labour Party will repeal the Lobbying Act if it wins power at the next General Election. Shadow leader of the Commons, Angela Eagle, said 'The lobbying laws had been cooked up in a shabby deal between David Cameron and Nick Clegg. It lets vested interests off the hook, and it gags charities and grassroots campaigners who want to hold the government to account. In the next parliament, we will introduce a universal register of all professional lobbyists backed by a code of conduct and sanctions. We will do what Cameron and Clegg didn't and consult with charities and campaigners about how to ensure transparency in our elections while protecting freedom of speech.'
Sources inside the Labour Party confirmed that it planned to include all in-house lobbyists on a new register, alongside agency practitioners. One party operative told PAN (Public Affair News) that Labour’s register would be “much, much wider” than the Government’s scheme.
UK: Nick Clegg employs 'cash for access’ lobbyist
- Tim Collins, the former Conservative MP, embroiled his lobbying company Bell Pottinger in an embarrassing “cash for access” row when he boasted to undercover reporters of the access that he had to, among others, Vince Cable, the Business Secretary.
- “Stephen Lotinga, my colleague, knows [Cable’s aide] Giles Wilkes very well, he headed up the Lib Dem home policy unit until the General Election... so he knows all of them, still talks to them socially,” the hapless Collins had told a journalist posing as a potential client. “We actually took a client in to see Giles last week, so it’s not something that is difficult for us to do.”
- Three years on, it is clear Collins wasn’t bluffing about Lotinga. Nick Clegg, the man who once called on Parliament to “clean up” the lobbying industry, has just appointed him as his director of communications.
- Lotinga had in the intervening period been working at Edelman, another lobbying company, which happens to employ Jamie Lundie, the boyfriend of David Laws, the Schools Minister. In 2010, Laws had to resign as Chief Secretary to the Treasury after The Daily Telegraph disclosed that Laws had claimed more than £40,000 on his expenses in the form of second home costs, from 2004 to late 2009, during which time he had been renting rooms at properties owned by Lundie.
Lotinga said of his appointment 'I’m delighted to be joining Nick Clegg and his talented team at such an interesting time in British politics. I’m immensely proud of what the Party has achieved in Government. This role is an enormous opportunity to communicate those achievements to the voting public.'
Scotland: Revealed: how Big Pharma funds trials for the drugs you are prescribed
From the Sunday Herald:
- The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) approved Nalmefene, licensed by Lundbeck, after assessing the studies and a positive submission by a charity also funded by the pharmaceutical company.
- The revelations have raised questions about whether the health body is scrutinising conflicts of interest.
- The SMC has the responsibility of considering whether new medicines should be recommended for use in the health service.
- Over £1 billion of the NHS budget in Scotland is spent on drugs every year: a hugely lucrative pot for the pharma industry.
- The Sunday Herald recently revealed how dozens of doctors who either sit on the SMC or advise the body have financial links to health firms.
- A BBC Panorama investigation tomorrow will also probe the links between doctors and "Big Pharma" at a UK level.
- This newspaper can reveal the SMC is facing further scrutiny, this time over the way its recommendations are made.
- The SMC last year approved the use of Nalmefene, a tablet used to tackle alcohol dependence by reducing cravings.
- It costs around £43 for 14 pills and Scotland was the first country in Europe to prescribe it.
- The SMC judgment was based on three clinical trials, which concluded that Nalmefene reduced alcohol consumption.
- However, the trials were funded by Lundbeck - the Danish pharma company that holds the licence for the drug. Lundbeck's bid was also supported by the British Liver Trust (BLT), which argued that the pill would provide a treatment option for people with liver disease.
UK: Former Tory MP Mercer resigns after Commons suspension
From the BBC:
- A former Tory MP has resigned after he was suspended from the Commons for six months for allegedly asking questions in Parliament in return for money.
- Patrick Mercer said he was "ashamed" and had decided to "fess up" by standing down straightaway.
- This will trigger a by-election in his Newark constituency in Nottinghamshire, which he has represented since 2001.
In his resignation speech Mercer said:
- "I am an ex-soldier and I believe that when I have got something wrong you've got to 'fess up and get on with it. No point in shilly-shallying and trying to avoid it. What has happened has happened. I am ashamed of it.
UK: Patrick Mercer made one of worst ever breaches of rules, watchdog finds
A report by the Commons standards committee has found that former MP Patrick Mercer committed one of the worst ever breaches of parliamentary lobbying rules. The Guardian reports:
- Mercer stepped down as an MP on Tuesday and triggered a byelection in his Newark seat, just ahead of the report that would have recommended his suspension from parliament for six months.
- However, the damning findings will still make uncomfortable reading for the Conservatives, just weeks after the culture secretary, Maria Miller, stepped down following a controversy over her expenses in which the same committee asked her to repay £5,800.
- Mercer was caught in a sting by journalist Daniel Foggo, leading to reports by BBC Panorama and the Daily Telegraph. This prompted a standards investigation into allegations that he signed a deal with an undercover reporter posing as a public affairs consultant for Fiji that paid him £4,000. He subsequently tabled Commons questions and offered up a Westminster security pass.
- The report by the Commons standards committee, published on Thursday, said the MPs were "not aware of a case relating to a sitting MP which has involved such a sustained and pervasive breach of the house's rules on registration, declaration and paid advocacy."
- It agreed with the judgement of Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary standards commissioner, which found Mercer inflicted significant reputational damage on the house and its members.
- They reached this conclusion after finding he allowed payment to influence his actions in parliamentary proceedings, failed to declare his interests on appropriate occasions, failed to recognise that his actions were not in accordance with his expressed views on acceptable behaviour, repeatedly denigrated fellow MPs both individually and collectively, and used racially offensive language.
- It found Mercer's dealings with the fake public affairs consultant "were motivated by the desire for commercial gain".
UK: Tory cigarette packaging rebel Priti Patel is ex-tobacco lobbyist
The Guardian reports that the Conservative MP Priti Patel, who is leading a rebellion against plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes, is a former tobacco lobbyist and also chairs a parliamentary group whose secretariat is provided by two tobacco industry-funded organisations. The Guardian continues:
- Patel was for several years a lobbyist working for British American Tobacco, in a team that sought to derail government plans for an advertising ban and responded to a Department of Trade and Industry investigation into alleged cigarette smuggling.
- Internal company documents obtained by the Observer show that in 2001, while working for lobbyist Weber Shandwick, Patel billed for 126 hours of work a month at £165 an hour on the BAT contract. One Weber Shandwick memo explains that Patel will "provide strategic advice on the account, with a particular focus on the Conservative Party".
- The secretariat for Patel's parliamentary group is provided by the Independent Retailers Confederation via the National Federation of Retail Newsagents and the Association of Convenience Stores. Both the latter receive tobacco funds.
Note: The Guardian article from which the above is taken is currently the subject of a legal complaint made on behalf of Priti Patel MP.
Scotland: MSPs warned over business links code
Two Holyrood cross-party groups have been found to have breached the MSP code of conduct over their relationship with businesswoman Jacquie Forde who has links to pharmaceutical firms. The Sunday Herald reports:
- The cross-party groups on health inequalities and chronic pain were found to have broken the rules regarding the secretariat provided by Wellbeing Alliance chief executive Jacquie Forde.
- Professor David Miller, above, whose complaint sparked the investigation, welcomed the findings but said Parliament should probe further. CPGs bring outside bodies and MSPs together to discuss policy, but fears have been raised about the influence of commercial interests in the groups.
- Forde is listed as secretary of the chronic pain group and secretary and treasurer of the CPG on health inequalities.
- She is also CEO of the Wellbeing Alliance, which has worked with pharmaceutical firms. She has also previously been employed by pharma companies.
- Her role on the CPGs was described as voluntary, and carried out in her own time, but the Wellbeing Alliance was listed as a member of the two groups.
- Miller, a Bath University academic who campaigns for transparency in lobbying, complained about the groups' links to Forde and the Alliance.
- CPGs have to declare financial support and Miller argued that "the time she [Forde] donates might be regarded as a cost on the Wellbeing Alliance".
- Holyrood's Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee investigated and issued its report last week.
- MSPs on the committee noted that it was the Alliance, rather than Forde, that was listed as a member of the groups in the annual returns, adding: "[The rules] do not allow for an individual to volunteer their time on behalf of an organisation."
- The committee quoted rules which state that employees of organisations should declare the time spent working on CPGs, as well as noting that Forde is a self-employed director of the Alliance.
- The MSPs added that individuals listed as representing organisations on a group could "not then consider themselves to be the secretary in a voluntary capacity".
- On this basis, the committee found there was a breach of the code of conduct, but it was not serious enough to warrant a sanction. Forde must now change the status of her membership, or assess the financial value of her time spent on the CPGs.
UK: Ministers 'reliant' on lobbyists
Businessman Lawrence Tomlinson, who spent a year as the Business Department’s “entrepreneur in residence”, has revealed his shock at the 'revolving door' of corporate lobbyists in government. The Telegraph reports:
- He (Lawrence Tomlinson) spent a year as the Business Department’s “entrepreneur in residence”, advising Vince Cable, the business secretary, on how to improve policy for small firms.
- Many former senior officials and special advisors who write government policy go on to work for major corporations, he said.
- “The influence of certain organisations, trade associations and individuals within government came as a real shock to me. I believe that lobbying serves a valid purpose, and can raise important issues, but only if conflicts and interests are declared and the process is transparent,” Mr Tomlinson said.
- “In parts of government, there is a revolving door with the large corporates who have a deep interest in government policy.”
- Mr Tomlinson, who has been deeply critical of the banking industry’s treatment of small firms, said the British Banking Association “have their foot through the door” of government and can overwhelming attempts from business to change policies.
- He said: “Having taken control of many data sources, and funded government programmes they are, to an extent, deemed indispensable. The conflicts of interest are plainly apparent, and the number of lobbyists and force they have, can hardly be matched by the business community. These interests need to be made more transparent to prevent these conflicts having an impact on our policy making processes.”
UK / Scotland: Tobacco industry funding fight against plain cigarette packaging
Three trade groups lobbying against the introduction of plain packaging of cigarettes have received fees or funding from tobacco companies. The Sunday Herald reports:
- Three groups in particular - the Scottish Grocers' Federation (SGF), the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) and the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) - have been vocal in their opposition.
- PRA chairman Brian Madderson hit out at the support for plain packaging, urging both governments to "pause and thoroughly review the wider, detrimental impacts it will have before it is too late".
- His organisation, which represents 5300 independent UK filling stations, revealed a member survey last month showed concern about plain packaging. But it was funded by Philip Morris Limited, a cigarette firm.
- The group says that tobacco manufacturers and suppliers are among its "associates and retail members".
- The SWA, which is based in Edinburgh, launched its Plain Nonsense campaign in 2012 as an early attempt to head off the plans, arguing there was "no credible evidence" that plain packaging would reduce smoking.
- But the campaign was "made possible" by "support" from British American Tobacco (BAT) UK Ltd.
- James Barge, the head of regulatory affairs at Philip Morris, is a scheduled speaker at the organisation's conference next month.
- The SGF - a trade body for convenience stores - has also lobbied the Scottish and UK governments.
- In a letter to the Chancellor in March, the SGF urged him to consider the "serious impact" of the policy which it said would harm jobs.
- The SGF website states that three tobacco firms - JTI, Imperial and Philip Morris - hold "gold" corporate memberships costing £9999 per year.
Scotland: Urgent review as nearly half of health boards ignore pharma disclosure rule
A government investigation has been launched after it was revealed that nearly 50% of health boards failed to record if doctors are being paid by drug companies. The Sunday Herald reports:
- Six out of 14 boards, including Greater Glasgow, failed to record if doctors are being paid by drug companies. Civil servants have launched an urgent review of the oversight. Several exposes have revealed the financial links between doctors and Big Pharma.
- The industry paid £38.5 million to UK doctors last year, a sum that included consultancy services and fees for attending conferences. But drug companies do not have to name the doctors who benefit until 2016.
- Dr Peter Gordon, a consultant psychiatrist at NHS Forth Valley, last year lodged a petition at Holyrood calling for legislation to ensure employees declared payments. It then emerged that NHS guidance had been in place for a decade.
- The 2003 circular states that, in respect of the pharma industry, boards must establish a register of interest for all NHS employees and primary care contractors. Hospital doctors are classed as NHS staff, while GPs are primary care contractors. The Scottish Government wrote to the 14 regional boards about their compliance with the guidance. The responses reveal big divergences on the section relating to GPs.
The Sunday Herald article continues:
- A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Health Secretary has asked officials to urgently investigate why some NHS boards have not put in place registers as covered by the 2003 circular. Alex Neil believes the guidance is clear that this action should have been taken, and we are looking for clarification on why some boards have not acted."
UK: Questions over the funding of miracle skin cancer 'cure'
From the Sunday Herald:
- Pembrolizumab attracted international coverage last week after a patient's tumours disappeared following treatment with the drug, which is manufactured by pharma giant Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD).
- Warwick Steele, a 64-year-old who had advanced cancer, was said to have been cured after a six-month round of treatment with the experimental drug. It was part of a wider trial on advanced melanoma.
- MSD, which has its headquarters in New Jersey, is expected to apply for a European licence for the drug. If successful, applications for use in the NHS in Scotland are inevitable.
- Steele's doctor, Dr David Chao, from the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We cannot say for certain that he has been cured, but he is doing very well. He was aware that without an effective treatment his survival prospects were not good - maybe months.
- "Pembrolizumab looks like it has potential to be a paradigm shift for cancer therapy and is firmly helping to establish immunotherapy as one of the most exciting and promising treatments in recent years.
- "Some of these results are really astonishing, almost jaw-dropping. And these drugs may be applicable to many different cancer types, including ones that are hard to treat, such as lung cancer."
- But the health service has been urged to closely examine the findings before making a decision.
- According to a spokesman for MSD, the study came about after a "clinical trial agreement" was struck between the drugs firm and the trust, which will receive funding for the services provided.
- In 2012, the trust was granted "foundation" status, meaning that it was given greater financial freedom.
- Chao was not paid for his work on the clinical trial.
- There is no suggestion of impropriety, but the financial ties have raised questions about the relationship between Big Pharma and the NHS. Professor David Miller, a sociology expert who campaigns for corporate transparency, said: "Headlines about so-called miracle cures are good news for pharmaceutical companies. They are rarely good science or good for the public.
- "The increasingly close links between the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry raise questions about the quality of science produced. More than 20 scientific studies have shown a positive correlation between industry funding and favourable results in science."
Scotland: Patient groups taking cash from drug firms
A Sunday Herald investigation has revealed that patient groups lobbying the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for new treatments are at the same time receiving funds from the pharmaceutical companies making the applications. The Sunday Herald reports:
- In a letter to the Sunday Herald, Professor David Webb of Edinburgh University and Professor Kenneth Paterson wrote: "We are enthusiastic proponents of the involvement of patient advocacy groups in the work of SMC and beyond, but share concern that there is a need for greater clarity around the funding, membership and management of such groups.
- "Perhaps we need debate as to whether some groups or individuals have interests that make it inappropriate for them to be involved in the decision-making process, or at least to ensure such interests are firmly on the table in discussions."
- On this basis, the Sunday Herald examined recent SMC decisions in which patient group submissions were made. A number were made by groups with a financial link - either past or present - to the applicants.
- There is no suggestion of impropriety on the part of any of the charities and the financial links were declared to the SMC. However, the revelations have raised questions about the funding of charities and whether there are perception problems with patient groups accepting support from Big Pharma.
- Professor David Miller, a sociology professor at Bath University who campaigns for transparency in lobbying, said: "The financial connections between patient groups and pharmaceutical firms give rise to possible conflicts of interest, especially where the patient groups then support the drug with the Scottish Medicines Consortium. The SMC should work towards eliminating advice from patient groups that have potential conflicts of interest."
UK: David Cameron faces calls to publish guest list for lavish Tory summer dinner
David Cameron has come under pressure to release the guest list for the Conservative Party's annual dinner, the party's second biggest fundraising event. The Guardian reports:
- The Tories have refused to publish the guest list for the annual dinner, which is An investigation by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that in the week after the 2013 event, which attracted 449 guests paying up to £1,000 per seat, £1.1m in donations to the party were registered with the Electoral Commission. Attendees included 73 financiers, 47 retail and property tycoons, 10 people in oil, gas and mining and 19 working in public affairs and PR.
UK: Conservative election guru Lynton Crosby lobbied minister over tobacco
Lynton Crosby lobbied against the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes only days before it was announced that he would be made the Conservative Party's chief election strategist. The Guardian reports:
- Crosby's London-based lobbying firm, Crosby Textor Fullbrook (CTF), was hired by Philip Morris International (PMI) in the autumn of 2012 because the owner of the Marlboro brand sought to derail plans to sell cigarettes in unbranded cartons, a move health campaigners claim will save lives by making smoking less appealing. Soon after winning the account Crosby made the case against plain packaging to Lord Marland, then parliamentary undersecretary for intellectual property and a former Conservative party treasurer.
Read the full story here.
UK: Tories charge £2,500 a head for access to ministers at party conference
The Guardian reports:
- The Conservatives are charging business executives and lobbyists £2,500 each for access to David Cameron, George Osborne and other ministers at their party conference in Birmingham this year.
- The paying guests will attend the conference's "business day", which will include lunch with the prime minister and dinner with the chancellor. They will also have a chance to talk to ministers about their specific concerns in "policy break-out" sessions.
- Some of the senior frontbenchers on offer include a foreign office minister hosting a session on exports, defence ministers discussing procurement and treasury ministers talking about tax. Jo Johnson, the head of the Downing Street policy unit, will speak about Conservative business policy.
Read the full story here.
UK: Civil service head received hospitality from Centrica and Goldman Sachs
The Guardian reports:
- Britain’s most senior civil servant has received hospitality from energy company executives and bankers, it has emerged.
- Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, accepted dinners from big companies and was taken to the opera, music recitals and private gallery visits, the Daily Mail reported.
- Many of the organisations with whom he dined, including the energy group Centrica and the investment bank Goldman Sachs, are directly affected by government policy.
- As the head of the civil service, Heywood is supposed to be neutral. Critics will say that it should be politicians, rather than Whitehall mandarins, who meet such figures. Labour has promised a freeze on energy bills and has accused the government of not being hard enough on the big six firms.
- In addition, the government opposed European calls for a crackdown on bankers’ bonuses and the way the City operates – at a time when Heywood was meeting investment bankers and City lobbyists.
Read the full story here.
UK: David Cameron’s election guru faces new attack over tobacco lobbying
Lynton Crosby faces renewed pressure over links to the tobacco lobby after it was revealed his company Crosby Textor Fullbrook sought to obtain internal government opinions about tobacco policy. The Guardian reports:
- Mark Fullbrook, co-founder of Crosby Textor Fullbrook (CTF), which represents tobacco giant Philip Morris, asked Tory grandee Sir Robert Atkins to track down comments issued by the government relating to Ireland’s plans for the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes. Atkins, an MEP and former government minister, was MP for South Ribble in Lancashire, a seat now represented by Fullbrook’s wife, Lorraine.
- In an email to Atkins dated 21 September 2014, Fullbrook tells Atkins: “Lovely to see you and Dulcie [Atkins’s wife] last night.” He goes on to explain that it is “in the public domain” that the government has issued the comments and asks: “Can you help identify which Dept issued these comments and what these comments are? On this one time is critical.”
Read the full story here.
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- Robert Watts, Lobby row: Energy policy MP Tim Yeo 'filmed boasting about introducing businessmen to Government', The Telegraph, 9 June 2013.
- Nicholas Watt, 'Tim Yeo denies claims he offered to advise solar energy lobbyists for cash', The Guardian, 9 June 2013.
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- 'Ed Miliband demands Lynton Crosby 'conflict of interest' inquiry', BBC, 17 July 2013.
- 'Tobacco firm argued against plain packaging in meeting with UK government', BBC, 16 July 2013.
- Nicholas Watt and Patrick Wintour, Labour calls for investigation into Lynton Crosby 'conflict of interest', The Guardian, 17 July 2013.
- Rowena Mason, 'David Cameron: I'm not giving any more answers on Lynton Crosby tobacco talks', The Telegraph, 21 July 2013.
- Nicholas Watt, 'Tory strategist Lynton Crosby in new lobbying row', The Guardian, 21 July 2013.
- 'Just 23% of lobbyists believe they will be captured by statutory lobbying Register', PCRA website, 23 July 2013.
- Angus Howarth, Tory adviser Crosby: ‘Cigarette lobby claim false, The Scotsman, 24 July 2013.
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- Rowena Mason, 'Lobbyists take up third of Tory conference seats', The Guardian, 17 August 2013.
- Alex Delmar-Morgan, 'Report calls for withdrawal of Government's lobbying reforms', The Independent, September 5 2013.
- Jamie Doward, Tobacco giant Philip Morris 'spent millions in bid to delay EU legislation', The Guardian, 7 September 2013.
- Damian Carrington, Energy firms begin lobbying operation against Miliband price-freeze plan, The Guardian, 25 September 2013.
- Oliver Wright, Philip Morris accused of applying ‘intense pressure’ on MEPs ahead of vote on banning some cigarettes, The Independent, 4 October 2013.
- Andrew Grice, Energy rip-off: 'Big Six' firms too close to ministers, says Ed Miliband, The Independent, 7 October 2013.
- Tony Patterson, 'Merkel on the ropes over claims she has been 'bought' by car lobby', Irish Independent, 17 October 2013.
- Rajeev Syal, New MPs need training on lobbyists, says committee, The Guardian, 5 November 2013.
- Patrick Wintour, Lobbying bill paused for six weeks to allow government rethink, The Guardian, 5 November 2013.
- Ed Pilkington, 'Facebook and Microsoft help fund rightwing lobby network, report finds', The Guardian, 14 November 2013.
- Nigel Morris, Activists and MPs take on City’s influence on Parliament, The Independent, 24 November 2013.
- Rowena Mason, Alcohol pricing: government 'dancing to the tune of drinks industry', The Guardian, 8 January 2014.
- Nicholas Watt, Peers bid to exempt charities from lobby bill, The Guardian, 12 January 2014.
- Google Leads Pack As 10 Tech Firms Pump $61.15 Million Into 2013 Lobbying Efforts, Consumer Watchdog, 22 January 2014.
- Rowena Mason, Lobbying bill passes through House of Lords, The Guardian, 28 January 2014.
- Holyrood lobbying register ‘should have no fees’, The Scotsman, 30 January 2014.
- House of Lords code of conduct may be tightened up, The Guardian, 17 February 2014.
- Paul Hutcheon, Call for probe into health forum link to Big Pharma, Sunday Herald, 2 March 2014.
- Paul Hutcheon, Global medical company pay bill for parliament committee's refreshments, Sunday Herald, 30 March 2014.
- Paul Hutcheon, Groups campaigning for medicine reform received cash from drug companies, Sunday Herald, 30 March2014.
- Paul Hutcheon, Big Pharma's links to doctors, Sunday Herald, 30 March 2014.
- Patrick Wintour, Labour pledges to repeal Lobbying Act in transparency drive, The Guardian, 3 April 2014.
- David Singelton, Labour's shock lobbying plan, Public Affairs News, 10 April 2014.
- Tim Walker, Nick Clegg employs 'cash for access’ lobbyist, The Telegraph, 5 April 2014.
- Daniel Farey-Jones, Nick Clegg hires Edelman's Stephen Lotinga as director of comms, PR Week, 4 April 2014.
- Paul Hutcheon, Revealed: how Big Pharma funds trials for the drugs you are prescribed, Sunday Herald, 13 April 2014.
- Former Tory MP Mercer resigns after Commons suspension, BBC, 29 April 2014.
- Nicholas Watt, MP Patrick Mercer resigns Commons seat in wake of lobbying allegations, The Guardian, 29 April 2014.
- Rowena Mason, Patrick Mercer made one of worst ever breaches of rules, watchdog finds, The Guardian, 1 May 2014.
- Jamie Doward, Tory cigarette packaging rebel Priti Patel is ex-tobacco lobbyist, The Guardian, 3 May 2014.
- Paul Hutcheon, MSPs warned over business links code,Sunday Herald, 11 May 2014.
- Matthew Holehouse, Ministers 'reliant' on lobbyists, The Telegraph, 12 May 2014.
- Paul Hutcheon, Tobacco industry funding fight against plain cigarette packaging, Sunday Herald, 18 May 2014.
- Paul Hutcheon, Urgent review as nearly half of health boards ignore pharma disclosure rule, Sunday Herald, 18 May 2014.
- Paul Hutcheon, Questions over the funding of miracle skin cancer 'cure', Sunday Herald, 8 June 2014.
- Patient groups taking cash from drug firms, Sunday Herald, 15 June 2014.
- Robert Booth, 'David Cameron faces calls to publish guest list for lavish Tory summer dinner', The Guardian, 2 July 2014.
- Jamie Doward, 'Conservative election guru Lynton Crosby lobbied minister over tobacco', The Guardian, 6 September 2014.
- Rowena Mason, 'Tories charge £2,500 a head for access to ministers at party conference', The Guardian, 17 September 2014.
- Rajeev Syal, 'Civil service head received hospitality from Centrica and Goldman Sachs', The Guardian, 2 October 2014.
- Jamie Doward, 'David Cameron’s election guru faces new attack over tobacco lobbying', The Guardian, 11 October 2014.