In June 2015 Lehal was appointed campaign director for Andy Burnham's bid to become Labour Party leader. He was assisted by director of communications and Burson Marsteller lobbyist Katie Myler, who also worked on Ed Miliband's successful campaign, and campaign chair Michael Dugher.
Although Burnham's campaign was unsuccessful, Lehal was according to Public Affairs News 'said to have impressed many of the Labour MPs who backed Burnham – including Owen Smith'.
In July 2016 Lehal was appointed chief of operations for Smith's leadership campaign against Jeremy Corbyn. He is working alongside ex-City Hall operative Neale Coleman, who was most recently employed by Corbyn’s team as ‘director of policy and rebuttal’. Coleman is now Smith's chief policy adviser, whereas Lehal has responsibility for operations.
FT Summer Party
In June 2015, key lobbying figures, Lehal, Tim Allan (MD of Portland) and Charles Lewington (founder and MD of Hanover Communications) attended the FT Summer Party at the Mondrian London Hotel. Labour MPs Andy Burnham, Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt, Emma Reynolds and Chris Bryant also attended, along with peer Lord Mandelson, Conservative MP Sajid Javid and Mayor of London candidate Sol Campbell.
- Twitter: John Lehal
- Linkedin John Lehal, accessed 8 June 2015.
- BBC News Bedfordshire North East, accessed 8 June 2015.
- David Singleton Andy Burnham adds corporate firepower to leadership team by hiring two top lobbyists, Total Politics, 5 June 2015, accessed 8 June 2015.
- David Singleton, Labour hopeful hires Lehal, Public Affairs News, 22 July 2016
- David Singleton Labour MPs and lobbyists out in force at FT summer party Total Politics, 24 June 2015, accessed 24 June 2015.