Lobbying regulation - chronology 2020-2029
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
- 1 2020 - 2029
- 1.1 2020
- 1.1.1 8 January 2020 - Rod Rosenstein joins law and lobbying firm
- 1.1.2 22 January 2020 - Tech giants led by Amazon, Facebook and Google spent nearly half a billion on lobbying over the last decade, new data show
- 1.1.3 23 January 2020 - Trump weakened environmental laws after BP lobbying
- 1.1.4 13 February 2020 - Mapped: Boris Johnson's Cabinet and the Tufton Street Lobbying Network
- 1.1.5 25 February 2020 - Watchdog ‘disappointed’ with review of State’s lobbying Act
- 1.1.6 25 February 2020 - Richard Grenell once touted his foreign clients. Now he's the top US intelligence official
- 1.1.7 26 February 2020 - Top Senate Democrat asks Justice Department to investigate Richard Grenell's consulting work
- 1.1.8 3 March 2020 - Exclusive: Tory MP Paul Bristow Quits Private Lobbying Firm And Hands Directorship To...His Own Wife
- 1.1.9 6 March 2020 - ExxonMobil 'tried to get European Green Deal watered down'
- 1.1.10 2 April 2020 - Tracking Corporate Climate Lobbying in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis
- 1.1.11 7 April 2020 - Coronavirus pandemic breeds Washington lobbying boom
- 1.1.12 27 May 2020 - Former Tory donor's housing project 'unlawfully approved to avoid £40m hit'
- 1.1.13 25 June 2020 - Robert Jenrick under pressure to resign after donor-row documents released
- 1.1.14 25 August 2020 - Facebook accused of poaching UK officials to influence policy
- 1.1.15 25 August 2020 - Government lobbying transparency tool revamped and updated
- 1.1.16 13 September 2020 - Revealed: ex-MPs use parliament access passes over 2,500 times in a year
- 1.1.17 17 September 2020 - Tory MP breached Commons rules by lobbying for company which paid him £10k
- 1.1.18 8 October 2020 - Former Tory minister criticised for new job at firm she lobbied for
- 1.1.19 8 October 2020 - Ex-Trump fundraiser charged with foreign lobbying
- 1.1.20 20 October 2020 - Elliott Broidy Pleads Guilty in Foreign Lobbying Case
- 1.2 2021
- 1.2.1 14 January 2021 - Revealed: business secretary accepted donations from fossil fuel investors
- 1.2.2 18 January 2021 - Former SNP MSP's lobbying firm blasted for appointing sitting Tory peer as consultant
- 1.2.3 20 January 2021 - Trump revokes rule barring lobbying by former officials as he leaves office
- 1.2.4 20 January 2021 - Trump pardons former GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy
- 1.2.5 21 January 2021 - Biden signs executive order invoking 2-year lobbying ban for appointees
- 1.2.6 24 January 2021 - Facebook and Amazon were the top spenders in lobbying efforts in 2020
- 1.2.7 19 March 2021 - Cameron lobbied UK government on behalf of Greensill Capital
- 1.2.8 30 March 2021 - Business card puts Greensill founder at the heart of Downing Street
- 1.2.9 12 April 2021 - Greensill: No 10 orders investigation into David Cameron’s lobbying of ministers
- 1.2.10 12 April 2021 - David Cameron breaks silence on Greensill lobbying row
- 1.2.11 21 April 2021 - Boris Johnson told Sir James Dyson by text he would 'fix' tax issue
- 1.2.12 11 May 2021 - Greensill: the scale of David Cameron’s lobbying texts revealed
- 1.2.13 15 May 2021 - Covid contracts: Priti Patel accused of lobbying for face mask firm
- 1.2.14 9 June 2021 - European airlines have been lobbying against EU climate plans
- 1.2.15 9 June 2021 - The Price of Zero - A Look at $450 Million in Political Spending by 55 corporations that Paid Zero Federal Corporate Income Tax
- 1.2.16 14 June 2021 - Increase lobbying ban for ex-ministers, urges watchdog
- 1.2.17 14 July 2021 - Former UK Chancellor Philip Hammond to advise Saudi government
- 1.2.18 20 July 2021 - David Cameron showed ‘significant lack of judgment’ on Greensill, inquiry finds
- 1.2.19 28 July 2021 - Queen secretly lobbied Scottish ministers for climate law exemption
- 1.2.20 29 July 2021 - Scottish government refuses to publish details about Queen’s secret lobbying
- 1.2.21 4 August 2021 - Labour questions link between Tory co-chair and Huawei PR firm
- 1.2.22 8 August 2021 - Labour accuses Philip Hammond of breaking ministerial code
- 1.2.23 9 September 2021 - Lobbying watchdog warns Tory co-chair to separate roles more clearly
- 1.2.24 12 September 2021 - Priti Patel under fire over reports of 'secret lobbying lunch' with Tory donor
- 1.2.25 1 October 2021 - Home Office, Foreign Office and MoJ worst for openness, finds report
- 1.2.26 21 October 2021 - COP26: Document leak reveals nations lobbying to change key climate report
- 1.2.27 26 October 2021 - British MP Owen Paterson faces Commons ban over lobbying rule breaches
- 1.2.28 1 November 2021 - Major reform needed as lobbying rules 'not fit for purpose' says Standards Committee
- 1.2.29 3 November 2021 - Tory MP avoids suspension after Boris Johnson intervenes in sleaze row
- 1.2.30 4 November 2021 - Owen Paterson row: Government U-turn over MPs' conduct plan & Owen Paterson resigns
- 1.2.31 5 November 2021 - Johnson will not declare Spanish holiday in MPs’ register, says No 10
- 1.2.32 8 November 2021 - Hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists flooding COP26 climate talks
- 1.2.33 9 November 2021 - At least a quarter of Tory MPs have second jobs, earning £5m a year
- 1.2.34 10 November 2021 - Geoffrey Cox accrued at least £6m from second job while a parliamentarian
- 1.2.35 15 November 2021 - Labour asks for lobbying by four Tory MPs to be investigated
- 1.2.36 26 November 2021 - Letting Hammond off shows PM won’t tackle corruption, says Labour
- 1.3 2022
- 1.3.1 24 January 2022 - Former Tory minister Steve Brine criticised for lobbying role on Covid contract
- 1.3.2 4 February 2022 - Revealed: Tory MP Bob Blackman was ‘fed’ propaganda by Azerbaijani embassy for parliamentary debates
- 1.3.3 11 February 2022 - MP watchdog investigates Conservative Andrew Bridgen over donation
- 1.4 16 February 2022 - Meta’s Clegg Promoted as Zuckerberg Steps Back From Policy
- 1.1 2020
- 2 Notes
2020 - 2029
8 January 2020 - Rod Rosenstein joins law and lobbying firm
US: From The Hill:
Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was named a partner at law and lobbying firm King & Spalding. Rosenstein will work in the firm’s special matters and government investigations group, which represents corporate, institutional and individual clients in sensitive legal challenges, the firm announced on Wednesday. Rosenstein oversaw former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and announced his resignation in April.
22 January 2020 - Tech giants led by Amazon, Facebook and Google spent nearly half a billion on lobbying over the last decade, new data show
US: New data shows the tech giants spending record sums of money on lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. The Washington post reports:
Facebook, for example, spent almost $81 million in the nation’s capital between 2010 and 2019, according to new lobbying records as well as historical data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That includes nearly $17 million last year, its highest amount ever, as it sought to assuage federal regulators who were furious at Facebook’s failures to protect users’ data, crack down on dangerous content and stop the spread of viral misinformation ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The company declined comment for this story.
Amazon said it is “focused on ensuring we are advocating on issues that are important to our customers, our employees and policymakers,” according to spokeswoman Jill Kerr. It also spent roughly $17 million on lobbying last year, setting a new record for the e-commerce giant.
Full article here.
23 January 2020 - Trump weakened environmental laws after BP lobbying
US: The Guardian reports:
BP has successfully lobbied US policymakers to weaken a landmark environmental law, clearing the way for major infrastructure projects to bypass checks.
US government documents show BP America lobbied in favour of Donald Trump’s decision to dilute legislation, which could make it easier for new projects, such as oil pipelines and power plants, to move forward with far less federal review of their impact on the environment.
Many green groups fear the changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa) will increase greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis.
The changes, unveiled by Trump this month, would narrow the list of projects that require an environmental impact assessment and in some cases eliminate the need for federal agencies to consider the cumulative effects of projects, including the impact on the climate crisis.
Full article here.
13 February 2020 - Mapped: Boris Johnson's Cabinet and the Tufton Street Lobbying Network
UK: DeSmog UK have mapped out in detail the links between Boris Johnson's Cabinet and the Tufton Street Lobbying Network. Tufton Street is a road in Westminster, London, that is known as a centre for Brexit-related eurosceptic and right-wing aligned think-tanks. These groups are primarily based in 55, but also in 57, Tufton Street.
The full study by DeSmog Uk can be viewed here.
25 February 2020 - Watchdog ‘disappointed’ with review of State’s lobbying Act
Ireland: The Irish Times reports:
Ireland’s lobbying watchdog has criticised the Government for failing to give it extra powers to police the “revolving door” between the private and public sectors.
Sherry Perrault, who is in charge of ethics and lobbying at the Standards in Public Office commission (Sipo), said it was “disappointed none of its recommendations were adopted” during a review of the State’s lobbying Act.
She told The Irish Times that despite its requests the law be strengthened, “the commission doesn’t have all the tools it could have to ensure the effective operation of the legislation”.
Sipo made a total of 22 separate recommendations during the review of the lobbying laws, and asked for stronger legislative powers. Among these were concerns about how tightly existing obligations were being adhered to, and its own lack of powers to investigate or sanction some transgressions.
However, the Government’s review, published on Tuesday, limited its proposals for reform to “more education and guidance”. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which ran the review, found there was no convincing case for updating lobbying laws introduced in 2014.
Full article here.
The Second Statutory Review of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 can be viewed here.
25 February 2020 - Richard Grenell once touted his foreign clients. Now he's the top US intelligence official
US: CNN reports on Richard Grenell‘s consultancy work for foreign governments before joining the Trump administraion:
Years before becoming the nation's top intelligence official, Richard Grenell touted his consulting work for clients in Iran, China and other countries, which included projects that could violate foreign lobbying laws or jeopardize his security clearance.
Last week, President Donald Trump appointed Grenell as the acting director of national intelligence, elevating him to an influential position that oversees all US intelligence agencies, even though he has no experience working in the intelligence community.
An archived version of Grenell's personal website says, "Grenell has worked with clients based in the U.S. as well as Iran, Kazakhstan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, China, Australia, Timor-Leste, and throughout Europe." The site was apparently taken down in 2018.
Two years before Grenell joined the Trump administration in 2018 to become the US ambassador to Germany, his company earned more than $100,000 from a foundation tied to the far-right Hungarian government, according to federal tax records. And Grenell also once published a series of columns favorable toward a Moldovan oligarch who is now a blacklisted fugitive facing allegations of massive corruption.
Full article here.
26 February 2020 - Top Senate Democrat asks Justice Department to investigate Richard Grenell's consulting work
US: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer contacted the assistant attorney general for national security, John Demers, asking his office to "immediately investigate" reports of Grenell's work in support of the Hungarian government and a Moldovan politician. Failure to disclose previous work as a foreign agent is a potential violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires those who lobby in the U.S. on behalf of foreign entities to disclose their efforts. According to CBS a search of FARA filings shows Grenell did not register.
3 March 2020 - Exclusive: Tory MP Paul Bristow Quits Private Lobbying Firm And Hands Directorship To...His Own Wife
UK: Conservative MP Paul Bristow has been accused by transparency campaigners of a conflict of interest over his decision to hand his PR business over to his wife. Bristow set up PB Consulting in 2010 with the company specialising in helping private tech and healthcare companies influence law-makers. PB Consulting is currently engaged in lobbying three separate all party parliamentary groups (APPGs) of MPs, which are exploring issues around obesity, women’s health and vascular disease. Bristow was elected in December 2019 and decided to transfer the company to his wife Sara Petela on January 9 2020.
Tamasin Cave, of the transparency campaign group Spinwatch said: “Paul Bristow says he’s ditched his interest in his lobbying firm but [could] still benefit through his wife’s involvement, which seems like a sleight of hand. His case highlights the problem in this country: there is no public scrutiny of who is influencing whom and about what.”
6 March 2020 - ExxonMobil 'tried to get European Green Deal watered down'
EU: The Guardian reports:
Documents unearthed by InfluenceMap revealed that Exxon lobbyists met Brussels officials in November to urge the EU to extend its carbon-pricing scheme to “stationary” sources, such as power plants, to include tailpipe emissions from vehicles using petrol or diesel.
Green groups believe this would be the least effective way to disincentive fossil fuel vehicles, and would rather allow countries to set their own emissions standards and targets for road emissions. Sign up to the Green Light email to get the planet's most important stories Read more
The move appears to be an attempt to stall the rollout of electric vehicles by keeping a lid on the cost of driving a traditional combustion engine vehicle running on fossil fuels. The European commission stopped short of proposals to phase out combustion engine vehicles and has plans to consult on whether to include vehicles in its carbon-pricing scheme.
Edward Collins, a director at InfluenceMap, said the document “represents yet another evidence piece” of ExxonMobil’s long-term strategy of delaying climate action by focusing on “long-term technical solutions” to try to avert “decisive regulatory action” that is urgently required to tackle the climate crisis.
A Guardian investigation last year found that Exxon has spent €37.2m (£32.4m) lobbying the EU since 2010, more than any other major oil company, according to the EU’s transparency register. It revealed that Shell spent €36.5m and BP spent €18.1m lobbying Brussels officials to shape EU climate policy.
Full article here.
2 April 2020 - Tracking Corporate Climate Lobbying in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis
Global: The Ecologist reports:
InfluenceMap, which tracks and measures corporate influence over climate policy, focused on recent corporate lobbying for both financial interventions and relating to climate or energy regulations.
“The oil and gas sector appears to be the most active globally in the above two lobbying areas, demanding both financial support and deregulation in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” the report states.
In the U.S., the top oil and gas producer in the world, this activity has been particularly pronounced. While the oil and gas sector is struggling amid plummeting prices and demand, the struggle is due to factors far beyond the pandemic, and mostly of the industry’s own making.
Many shale companies had amassed large debts that allowed them to rapidly spend and expand production, for example. And the oil and gas giant ExxonMobil’s stock hit a 10-year low in late January, and a 15-year low by March 5, before the pandemic reached a crisis point in the U.S.
Nevertheless, the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers have looked to use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to shore up the petroleum producers.
The full InfluenceMap briefing can be downloaded here.
US: The Associated Press reports on the dramatic rise of the lobbying industry during the COVID-19 crisis:
An Associated Press analysis of federal lobbying filings shows the number of companies and organizations hiring lobbyists shot up dramatically across the months of February, March and early April. Of the more than 700 registrations filed since the beginning of the year, at least 70 specifically mention the new virus, COVID-19 or a global health crisis. Dozens of other lobbyists and firms who were previously retained list the virus or the stimulus legislation in recent quarterly lobbying reports.
And there has also been a stark increase in medical groups, drug makers and others connected to the medical industry who have hired lobbyists, even if the virus was not specifically given as a reason in the disclosures.
The surge in lobbying provided another potent example of the power and sway Washington’s permanent influence industry can hold during times of crisis.
Full article here.
27 May 2020 - Former Tory donor's housing project 'unlawfully approved to avoid £40m hit'
UK: Robert Jenrick has accepted that his approval of one-time Conservative supporting billionaire Richard Desmond’s project at the Isle of Dogs was unlawful. Two weeks after Jenrick's intervention in the planning decision (in January 2020 Jenrick overruled the local council and the government’s planning inspectorate to approve the 1,500-apartment, 44-storey complex for Desmond), Desmond donated £12,000 to the Conservative Party.
The Guardian reports:
Documents related to the consent order for the development show that the minister was aware that a council-imposed community infrastructure levy (CIL) would have been introduced on 15 January this year.
Against the advice of his own planning inspector, the minister gave the go-ahead for the construction of more than 1,500 apartments in a 44-storey complex on 14 January. Jenrick’s decision was made just 24 hours before the Tower Hamlets CIL would have cost Desmond at least £40m.
CILs were to be used to tax large property developments at £280 per square metre with the cash raised channelled back into the council area for building schools and health clinics.
The full Guardian article can be viewed here.
25 June 2020 - Robert Jenrick under pressure to resign after donor-row documents released
UK: Robert Jenrick has come under pressure to resign after newly released documents indicate that he insisted a planning decision for a £1bn property development should be rushed through so a Conservative donor’s company could reduce costs by £45m.
The Guardian reports:
In one document, a civil servant in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government wrote that the secretary of state (SoS) wanted the Westferry development in east London to be signed off the following day so that Richard Desmond’s company would avoid the community infrastructure levy (CIL).
“On timing, my understanding is that SoS is/was insistent that decision issued this week ie tomorrow – as next week the viability of the scheme is impacted by a change in the London CIL regime,” the official wrote.
Text message exchanges reveal how Desmond, the former Express titles newspaper owner and pornographer, lobbied Jenrick to expedite the development to avoid the need to pay an extra £45m to Labour-run Tower Hamlets council, the poorest borough in London, saying: “We don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe [sic] for nothing!”
Jenrick subsequently overturned a decision by the council and the government’s planning inspectorate in order to approve a 1,500-apartment, 44-storey development at Westferry Printworks, a former printing plant in east London.
The full Guardian article can be veiwed here
25 August 2020 - Facebook accused of poaching UK officials to influence policy
'UK:' Since the start of 2019 the social media giant Facebook has recruited 10 former Whitehall policymakers with knowledge of the regulatory process. The systematic hiring of former UK government officials comes as Facebook has faced increased pressure on a number of issues, from the amount of tax the company pays in the countries it operates to the platform being used to spread hate and misinformation.
Conservative Damian Collins, the former chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, told the Times: 'Facebook is clearly hiring people who have both direct personal knowledge of the latest thinking on how this could be developed, and extensive networks amongst the officials who will be advising ministers on these issues.
'They are doing this to try and change the direction of policy before it is even launched.'
25 August 2020 - Government lobbying transparency tool revamped and updated
'UK:' Transparency International UK has launched a revamped version of its free-to-use Open Access tool, which makes it easier for the public to find out which ministers have been meeting lobbyists, when and for what purpose.
The update includes the latest data published by UK Government departments covering January to March 2020. The Government was more than a month late in publishing this data.
The Open Access tool can be found here.
13 September 2020 - Revealed: ex-MPs use parliament access passes over 2,500 times in a year
UK: The Guardian reports on the scale of grace and favour access enjoyed by 324 former MPs:
A “strategic counsel” for the lobbying firm Crosby Textor is among 324 former MPs who together used grace and favour passes to access the Houses of Parliament more than 2,500 times in a single year.
Data released after a significant freedom of information victory by the Guardian reveals how frequently individual former MPs have been using their “category X” parliamentary pass, which grants the bearer continued access to the corridors of power after they step down, along with parliament’s subsidised restaurants and bars.
MPs who serve a single parliamentary term are automatically eligible to apply for a pass, but critics argue the system is open to abuse.
Commons authorities attempted to prevent the information being released, claiming it would infringe former members’ personal data rights. However, the information commissioner ruled in the Guardian’s favour, determining that the public interest in the material was of such strength that it should override data protection safeguards.
The data revealed that Stewart Jackson, the Conservative MP for Peterborough from 2005 to 2017, used his grace and favour pass 82 times in the year from July 2018 to June 2019 – almost one in every two days on which parliament sat in that period.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he has worked as a lobbyist since August 2018, first for Crosby Textor as a “strategic counsel” and latterly for his own outfit, Political Insight, as well as being a columnist for The Telegraph. Jackson did not respond to attempts to contact him.
Full article here.
17 September 2020 - Tory MP breached Commons rules by lobbying for company which paid him £10k
UK:' Conservative MP David Morris has been found to have broken the paid advocacy rule when he asked a question in the Commons after accepting a £10,000 donation. Morris accepted a donation of £10,000 from Aquind Ltd, which was declared on his register of interests. Mr Morris's question sought for Ofgem - the energy watchdog - to "protect" companies such as Aquind Ltd through new regulations. The following day, Mr Morris also emailed a copy of his question and the minister's reply to the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. The commissioner found that the question and the email breached the rules on MPs conduct.
8 October 2020 - Former Tory minister criticised for new job at firm she lobbied for
UK: The Guardian reports:
Former Tory shipping minister Nusrat Ghani is facing criticism for taking up a £60,000 role at a firm leading a maritime consortium which successfully bid for a £33m grant she had lobbied a fellow minister for while she was serving in government.
The Belfast Maritime Consortium, led by Artemis Technologies, won the multi-million pound UK government innovation grant in May to develop zero-emission ferries in Belfast, pledging to “revolutionise the future of maritime transport”.
Now the Guardian can reveal that while serving as a transport minister in September 2019, Ghani wrote a letter to then business minister, Chris Skidmore, in support of the consortium’s bid for the funding. Ghani also visited Artemis Technologies’ facility in January 2019 and met its CEO, double Olympic champion sailor Iain Percy.
The £33m comes via the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strength in Places Fund, aimed at boosting local economic growth. UKRI is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Ghani will serve as non-executive chairman of the Belfast Consortium Supervisory Board at Artemis Technologies Ltd for a year from 4 September 2020, receiving £60,000 for seven hours of work per month, according to the latest register of MPs’ financial interests. The board is responsible for the oversight of the newly established 13-partner consortium led by Artemis. It means she will earn the equivalent of more than £700 an hour for the job, on top of her MP’s salary of nearly £82,000.
Labour’s shadow maritime minister, Mike Kane, said: “This again shows the revolving door between ex-ministers and private firms. This can’t be right. The maritime industry like so many others is desperate for government action to protect jobs and livelihoods in the face of wholesale redundancies. The timing of this just won’t sit well for ordinary people when as recently as last week over 100 jobs at P&O alone were lost.”
The full article can be viewed here
8 October 2020 - Ex-Trump fundraiser charged with foreign lobbying
US: A former fundraiser for Donald Trump and the Republican Party has been charged over his alleged part in a scheme aimed at influencing the US government on behalf of foreign actors. Elliot Broidy allegedly lobbied the Trump administraion in an effort to halt ongoing investigations into an embezzlement scandal at the 1MDB investment fund. The fund is state-run in Malaysia.
The Independent reports:
Mr Broidy is accused of accepting $6m from a Malaysian fugitive at the head of the scheme, Jho Low, to undermine the US Justice Department's investigation into the embezzlement scheme.
The former right wing donor was then promised an addition $75m if his lobbying attempt was successful. He has been charged with conspiring to lobby for a foreign national without registering.
In addition to Mr Broidy, his business associate, Nickie Mali Lum Davis, and a former Justice Department official, George Higginbotham, were involved in the scheme. Those two individuals have already pleaded guilty to their involvement. Ms Lum Davis not only lobbied against the 1MDB investigation, she also lobbied for the country to release the wealthy Chinese exile Guo Wengui to China.
Mr Guo recently burst into Americans' consciousnesses when Steve Bannon, a formerly invaluable part of Mr Trump's campaign team, was arrested on his yacht in connection with fraudulently fundraising to build the president's promised border wall.
Mr Broidy's connection to the Republican Party and to Mr Trump is not solely tied to his donations; from 2017 to early 2018, he worked as the deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee.
The full article can be viewed here.
20 October 2020 - Elliott Broidy Pleads Guilty in Foreign Lobbying Case
US: Elliot Broidy pleads guilty to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a covert campaign to influence the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.
The New York Times reported:
Mr. Broidy, 63, agreed to forfeit $6.6 million to the federal government and to cooperate with prosecutors on a range of potential investigations related to his fellow conspirators and others.
The charge is a felony that could carry a prison sentence of up to five years, but his cooperation is likely to result in a lesser sentence. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 12.
Mr. Broidy’s guilty plea relates to his arrangement with the fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low, who was not identified by name in court filings or during the hearing on Tuesday.
Mr. Broidy admitted that he had accepted $9 million from Mr. Low, some of which was then paid to an associate, to push the Trump administration for the extradition of a Chinese dissident and to drop a case related to an embezzlement scheme from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund that the United States has accused Mr. Low of engineering.
He also admitted to meeting with a Chinese government official who was seeking the extradition of the dissident, who was not identified in court, but who is known to be the billionaire Guo Wengui, an outspoken critic of China who has been charged by its government with corruption and is seeking asylum in the United States.
Mr. Broidy did not disclose the foreign lobbying work with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, but he knew that he should have, he told Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in a virtual hearing.
The full New York Times article can be viewed here.
14 January 2021 - Revealed: business secretary accepted donations from fossil fuel investors
UK: The Guardian reports:
The UK’s new business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, accepted substantial donations from fossil fuel investors and advisers as part of his 2019 general election campaign, despite the government’s commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Kwarteng was energy minister until earlier this month, when he was promoted to secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy. He replaced Alok Sharma, who has now taken full-time responsibility for the UK’s hosting of this year’s UN climate talks, Cop26.
In the 2019 election campaign, Kwarteng received £16,000 from companies and individuals with a direct interest in fossil fuels, and a further £4,500 from companies that advise on or facilitate trading in fossil fuels.
The donations, according to the MPs’ register of interests, included £7,500 from IPGL, a holding company with a 40% stake in Cluff Energy Africa, a London-based company that prospects for oil in west Africa. IPGL is owned by the former Conservative party treasurer Michael Spencer, and donated £48,000 to Conservative MPs, of whom Kwarteng received the highest single amount.
He also received £4,000 from Majid Jafar, chief executive of Crescent Petroleum, a privately held company with oil and gas operations in the Middle East, and a board member of Dana Gas. A further £4,500 came from Helios Investment Partners, whose portfolio includes Eland Oil and Gas, Impact Oil and Gas, Vivo Energy and Africa Oil Corp.
In addition to these donations, Kwarteng accepted £2,500 from Capital Generation Partners, which advises on investments including fossil fuels, and £2,000 from CQS, an asset management firm that facilitates trades in fossil fuel interests among other commodities.
Labour has called on Kwarteng to give back the donations. Alan Whitehead, the shadow energy and green new deal minister, said: “Ministers should not accept money from donors where there is a clear conflict of interest, and I hope he will pay it back. Our democracy should never be up for sale to Tory donors.”
The full article can be viewed here
18 January 2021 - Former SNP MSP's lobbying firm blasted for appointing sitting Tory peer as consultant
Scotland: Lobbying firm Charlotte Street Partners decision to appoint sitting peer Ian Duncan as a consulting partner has been criticised by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA). The PCRA argues that a lawmaker should not also be a lobbyist, and that the decision brings the House of Lords into disrepute. The Herald reports:
Liam Herbert MPRCA, PRCA Public Affairs Committee Chairman said: “It is simply wrong for lobbying firms to employ members of the House of Lords, and unthinkable that the Deputy Speaker of the Lords himself would think it appropriate to accept such a job.
“The PRCA Public Affairs Code is crystal clear - you cannot be a legislator and a lobbyist. You have to pick one or the other”.
Francis Ingham MPRCA, PRCA Director General added: “While I am aware that Charlotte Street Partners has chosen not to be covered by any Code of Conduct, I would nonetheless urge them to do the ethical thing, and to rethink this incredibly unwise appointment, which brings the House of Lords into disrepute.”
Charlotte Street Partners, which appears on the Government’s statutory Lobbying Register, was set up by economist and former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson, and Malcolm Robertson, son of Labour peer George Robertson.
It does not declare an adherence to the PRCA code of conduct.
The appointment of Lord Duncan comes after Ruth Davidson, current Scottish Conservatives Holyrood group leader, was forced to turn down a job at PR firm Tulchan Communications due to the public backlash about the appointment.
The full article can be viewed here.
20 January 2021 - Trump revokes rule barring lobbying by former officials as he leaves office
US: In one of his last actions as US President, Donald Trump revoked a rule that he had introduced during his first week in office. The order, "Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees" imposed a five-year lobbying ban for adminsitration officials and a lifetime ban on lobbying for foreign governments and was part of Trump's campiagn promise to "drain the swamp". With Trump now scrapping the order it seems that he and his advisors are now free to begin lobbying once they leave government.
20 January 2021 - Trump pardons former GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy
US: Newsweek reports:
Former Donald Trump and Republican Party fundraiser Elliott Broidy has been pardoned in one of the outgoing president's final uses of his clemency powers. Pardons to 73 individuals were detailed overnight.
Among them was Broidy, who had pleaded guilty to charges that he illegally lobbied the U.S. government in attempt to have it drop an investigation into embezzlement in Malaysia.
He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of having conspired to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act. This requires people who lobby the U.S. government on behalf of foreign entities to register with the Justice Department. Broidy admitted to not doing this, Reuters reported. Prosecutors alleged he received millions of dollars to try to end the investigation. He would have faced a maximum prison sentence of five years.
The full Newsweek article can be viewed here.
21 January 2021 - Biden signs executive order invoking 2-year lobbying ban for appointees
US: President Biden signed an executive order requiring all political appointees to sign an ethics pledge. The pledge includes a ban on certain lobbying for two years after a person leaves the administration. In an attempt to stamp down on the so-called revolving door, appointees leaving government are banned for 2 years from lobbying any covered executive branch offical or lobby for any foreign government. The order also states that as a condition of employment, officials must commit themselves to not accept gifts from registered lobbyists.
24 January 2021 - Facebook and Amazon were the top spenders in lobbying efforts in 2020
US: Facebook and Amazon were the biggest spenders on US lobbying in 2020, outspending companies such as AT&T and Boeing, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Facebook spent around $20 million in 2020, up 18% on the previous year, while Amazon spent around £18 million, up 11% from 2019.
Read more about the Wall Street Journal analysis here (paywall).
19 March 2021 - Cameron lobbied UK government on behalf of Greensill Capital
UK: Former prime minister David Cameron stands accused of lobbying senior government officials on behalf of Greensill Capital. Cameron, an advisor and shareholder in Greensill, is reported to have approached former colleagues in the UK government in order to secure Greensill, a supply chain finance firm, access to 100% government-backed loads through the Covid corporate financing facility (CCFF). When Treasury officials rejected Greensill's request for access to CCFF loans, Cameron intervened, approaching both the Treasury and 10 Downing Street via his personal email and phone calls. Labour is now calling for an investigation into Cameron and Greensill’s alleged lobbying efforts.
The Sunday Times reported that Cameron sent multiple texts to Rishi Sunak's private phone in April 2020, in hopes of gaining access to cheap, 100% government-backed loans through the Covid corporate financing facility (CCFF).
30 March 2021 - Business card puts Greensill founder at the heart of Downing Street
UK: Labour continues to push for a full investigation into David Cameron's role in lobbying on behalf of doomed finance firm Greensill Capital. The latest revelation to come to light is the existence of a business card which appears to confirm that Lex Greensill, founder of Greensill, held a previous role at the heart of Downing Street. The business card described Lex Greensill as 'Senior Adviser, Prime Minister’s Office' and is thought to date from a period prior to 2014.
12 April 2021 - Greensill: No 10 orders investigation into David Cameron’s lobbying of ministers
UK: The Independent reports:
Boris Johnson has ordered an independent investigation into David Cameron’s controversial lobbying of ministers for the collapsed financier Lex Greensill.
A leading lawyer will probe “how business representatives engaged with government” in discussions over supply chain finance and how contracts were awarded, No 10 said.
The move comes amid a storm of criticism of the former prime minister after he directly lobbied Rishi Sunak, including by text, to give Greensill a role in the government’s Covid-19 loan scheme.
At the weekend it emerged he had also organised a “private drink” with the health secretary Matt Hancock, with at least four ministers contacted.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson had launched the independent review because he recognised the “significant interest” in the controversy.
Full article here.
It is understood that the inquiry will have licence to recommend changes to lobbying regulations.
The Guardian added:
Campaigners including Transparency International have said the saga “highlights deep flaws in the UK’s approach” and that an inquiry should cover the lack of transparency in lobbying, enforcing the ministerial code and the revolving door between government and the private sector.
The group said ministerial meetings that are meant to be reported are often left unpublished and unpoliced and have called for a change in the direction of the US, Canada, Ireland and Scotland, where attempts to influence ministers must be reported by lobbyists themselves.
The independent review will be led by Nigel Boardman, a corporate lawyer with experience of government inquiries and a non-executive board member of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Full article here.
12 April 2021 - David Cameron breaks silence on Greensill lobbying row
UK: David Cameron issues a statement to the media regarding the row over his involvement in the Greensill lobbying scandal. In his statement Cameron says he should have acted differently and used only “the most formal channels”. The full text of Cameron's statement can be viewed here.
21 April 2021 - Boris Johnson told Sir James Dyson by text he would 'fix' tax issue
UK: From the BBC:
Boris Johnson assured Sir James Dyson his employees would not have to pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the pandemic.
Sir James, whose firm is now based in Singapore, wrote to the Treasury to ask for no change in tax status for staff.
But in text messages sent in March 2020 - seen by the BBC - Sir James then went directly to the PM, with Mr Johnson replying: "I will fix it."
The government said it did everything it could to get the right equipment.
And Sir James said it was "absurd to suggest that the urgent correspondence was anything other than seeking compliance with rules" and that his company did not receive "any benefit from the project".
Labour called the revelations "jaw-dropping", with shadow business minister Lucy Powell telling the BBC: "Frankly it stinks that a billionaire businessman can text the prime minister and get an immediate response and, apparently, an immediate change in policy."
Full article here.
11 May 2021 - Greensill: the scale of David Cameron’s lobbying texts revealed
UK: David Cameron and his personal employees bombarded senior ministers and officials with at least 50 emails, texts and WhatsApp messages about Greensill between 5 March and 26 June 2020.
15 May 2021 - Covid contracts: Priti Patel accused of lobbying for face mask firm
UK: Labour has accused the Home Secretary Priti Patel of a “flagrant breach” of the ministerial code by allegedly lobbying Michael Gove over a £20m deal. n a letter signed by the deputy Labour leader, Angela Rayner, and shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, the party urged the cabinet secretary Simon Case to investigate the home secretary over alleged efforts to sway the award of a contract.
In May 2020, Ms Patel wrote a letter to Mr Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, about a company called Pharmaceuticals Direct Ltd that was in talks with the government about an order for face masks.
She said the government's "late stage" decision not to use the company had caused problems for the firm.
"I would be most grateful if you could review this matter urgently," she wrote in the letter to Mr Gove.
The contact at Pharmaceuticals Direct Ltd was a man called Samir Jassal, a Conservative activist who Ms Patel knew. According to his LinkedIn, he worked as an adviser to Ms Patel between 2014 and 2015 and on social media describes her as a "good friend".
Health Secretary Matt Hancock wrote back to Ms Patel to say the masks being offered by the firm were "not suitable for use in the NHS".
But the company was later awarded a contract in July 2020, worth just under £103m, to supply a different type of mask.
Full article here.
9 June 2021 - European airlines have been lobbying against EU climate plans
EU: The New Scientist reports on European airlines efforts to counter EU climate policies:
Several European airlines have been engaged in wide-ranging lobbying to challenge European Union climate policies, including imminent plans to force them to use more green biofuels, a UK-based think tank has found.
InfluenceMap, a think tank that monitors corporate lobbying around climate change, used freedom of information requests and research to draw up its new report. It reveals that while the 10 European airlines looked at for this report have received around €30 billion in government bailouts during the pandemic – some of which came with conditions attached to encourage climate-friendly actions – most have simultaneously lobbied to delay new proposals to cut aviation emissions.
Air France-KLM, IAG (the parent company of British Airways), Lufthansa and Ryanair – Europe’s four biggest airlines by carbon dioxide emissions – were found in the report to be the most regressive with their stance towards climate policies. InfluenceMap rated their position roughly on a par with the airline trade bodies IATA and Airlines for Europe (A4E). The airline Easyjet was seen as taking a slightly more progressive stance.
The InfluenceMap report 'The Aviation Industry and European Climate Policy' can be found here.
9 June 2021 - The Price of Zero - A Look at $450 Million in Political Spending by 55 corporations that Paid Zero Federal Corporate Income Tax
US: A new report by Public Citizen details lobbying expenditures of 55 corporations that paid no federal corporate income tax in 2020, according to an analysis from the liberal Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
The key findings from the report were:
- The 55 corporations that paid no federal corporate income tax in 2020 spent nearly $450 million on lobbying and campaign contributions over the last three election cycles. This total includes $408 million in lobbying and $42 million in campaign contributions.
- FedEx spent the most of any company ($71 million) followed by Charter Communications ($64 million), American Electric Power ($42 million), Duke Energy ($37 million) and Textron ($22 million).
- On average each year, these companies together have sent 526 lobbyists to influence the federal government.
- The companies contributed $4 million to the four national party committees and another $650,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC.
- Of the top 25 recipients of money from the corporations that paid zero in taxes in Congress, 20 are Republicans. Each of these recipients voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which lowered the corporate tax rate.
- Many of the companies also received huge rebates from the federal government in 2020. Four of the top 10 political spenders in 2020 could use their leftover rebate money to cover political spending costs for at least the next half century.
The full report can be viewed here.
14 June 2021 - Increase lobbying ban for ex-ministers, urges watchdog
UK: A report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life has said the current two-year ban on lobbying by former ministers and top officials "may be too short in some cases". Publishing its interim findings it said government departments should be able to issue longer lobbying bans "where they deem it appropriate" - although it should "not become the default".
The recommendations come in the wake of the Greensill Capital lobbying row where former Prime Minister David Cameron lobbied the government on behalf of the now-collapsed finance firm just two years after leaving office.
14 July 2021 - Former UK Chancellor Philip Hammond to advise Saudi government
UK: The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) has given its approval to Philip Hammond taking up an advisory role with the Saudi government. Despite being less than two years since he left ministerial office, ACOBA gave Hammond the green light to advise Riyadh on 'fiscal reform'. “The Committee were concerned about the risks associated with a former senior minister of the Cabinet advising a foreign government, not least in terms of the access and influence you are seen to offer,” the committee wrote in its response to Hammond’s application. One member, Larry Whitty, a Labour member of the House of Lords, registered his dissent from the committee’s majority view to allow the appointment.
In response to the approval, Labour called the ACOBA "toothless". Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner said: "This is yet more evidence that the system of rules and regulations that is supposed to prevent the revolving door between government office and lobbying is completely unfit for purpose. The Acoba system is pointless and toothless. If anything, it causes more harm than good by giving a veil of respectability to the rampant cronyism, sleaze and dodgy lobbying that is polluting our democracy under the Tories."
20 July 2021 - David Cameron showed ‘significant lack of judgment’ on Greensill, inquiry finds
UK: David Cameron's lobbying efforts on behalf of Greensill Capital showed a “significant lack of judgment”, an official parliamentary inquiry has found. Despite finding that Cameron had not broken any lobbying rules, the Treasury Select Committee's report said “that reflects on the insufficient strength of the rules”. It said Cameron’s behaviour highlighted a “strong case for strengthening [the rules]” to prevent former prime ministers from lobbying serving ministers in search of personal economic gain.
The full report can be viewed here.
28 July 2021 - Queen secretly lobbied Scottish ministers for climate law exemption
UK: The Guardian reports:
The Queen’s lawyers secretly lobbied Scottish ministers to change a draft law to exempt her private land from a major initiative to cut carbon emissions, documents reveal.
The exemption means the Queen, one of the largest landowners in Scotland, is the only person in the country not required to facilitate the construction of pipelines to heat buildings using renewable energy.
Her lawyers secured the dispensation from Scotland’s government five months ago by exploiting an obscure parliamentary procedure known as Queen’s consent, which gives the monarch advance sight of legislation. Queen Elizabeth II, Balmoral Castle
The arcane parliamentary mechanism has been borrowed from Westminster, where it has existed as a custom since the 1700s.
In a series of reports into Queen’s consent in recent months, the Guardian revealed how the Queen repeatedly used her privileged access to draft laws to lobby ministers to change UK legislation to benefit her private interests or reflect her opinions between the late 1960s and the 1980s.
The new documents, uncovered by Lily Humphreys, a researcher for the Scottish Liberal Democrats using freedom of information laws, disclose how the monarch used her special access to Scottish legislation to intervene in the parliamentary process as recently as February.
The documents also suggest Nicola Sturgeon’s government failed to disclose the monarch’s lobbying this year when a Scottish politician used a parliamentary debate to query why the Queen was securing an exemption from the green energy bill.
29 July 2021 - Scottish government refuses to publish details about Queen’s secret lobbying
UK: Following on from the revelation that in February, the Queen’s lawyers successfully lobbied Scottish ministers to change a draft law to exempt her private land from a major initiative to cut carbon emissions, the Scottish government is refusing to publish details about the lobbying efforts. Civil servants claimed that by doing so it would undermine “the appearance of political neutrality” that the monarch adopts in public.
UK: Ben Elliot, co-chairman of the Conservative party since July 2019, is at the centre of a controversy reagrding the the existence of a secretive “advisory board” for wealthy Conservative donors who have received regular access to the prime minister and Rishi Sunak. The existence of the board has been confirmed by the Conservative Party.
Labour party chair Anneliese Dodds said: “This appears to be less of an advisory board than a means for a select group of elite donors to gain privileged access to the prime minister and the chancellor. The Conservative party needs to explain what access this group had, what they have used that access to lobby for, and why they think it’s OK for there to be one rule for high-ranking Conservatives and another rule for everyone else.”
8 August 2021 - Labour accuses Philip Hammond of breaking ministerial code
UK: Following closely on from Philip Hammond's controversial appointment as an advisor to the Saudi government The Guardian reports on the latest scandal to embroil Hammond:
The former chancellor Philip Hammond has been accused by Labour of breaking the ministerial code, after reportedly writing to the Treasury to advocate for a bank he is a paid adviser for.
The former MP, who is now a Conservative peer, became the latest figure embroiled in questions over lobbying, following a government-commissioned review which found the rules regarding access and influence of politicians and senior civil servants “worked well”.
Since leaving the Commons, Lord Hammond has taken on several roles, including as a non-executive director of OakNorth International bank.
In an email sent during the first few months of the Covid crisis, the Sunday Telegraph said Hammond contacted Charles Roxburgh – the Treasury’s second most senior civil servant – to tell him of a “toolkit” OakNorth had developed to assess possible borrowers. Advertisement
An attachment to the message contained OakNorth’s pitch, and Hammond asked Roxburgh to “pass it on to anyone else who might be appropriate”, the newspaper said.
The communication came under scrutiny because Labour claimed it violated an explicit ban imposed on Hammond after he left the government in July 2019 when Theresa May stepped down and was replaced as prime minister by Boris Johnson.
A letter from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments – which advises frontbenchers and those who have recently stepped down on what activities they can and cannot use their positions for – reportedly told Hammond that for two years after quitting he should not make use of his “government and/or ministerial contacts to influence policy or secure business on behalf of OakNorth”.
The ministerial code also says former ministers “must abide by the advice of the committee”.
Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said Hammond had broken the ministerial code and called for an investigation by the cabinet secretary.
“Hammond has entirely disregarded the conditions that were made clear to him when he took the job with OakNorth Bank,” she said. “If the rules are treated with such derision by the former chancellor then the whole system is rotten.”
The full article can be viewed here.
9 September 2021 - Lobbying watchdog warns Tory co-chair to separate roles more clearly
UK: The Conservative party co-chair, Ben Elliot, has been cleared of any wrongdoing following an investigation by the Office of the Registrar of the Consultant Lobbyists. The investigation was launched following reports that Elliot’s two roles had potentially crossed through the creation of a secretive “advisory board” for wealthy Conservative donors, who paid £250,000 a year or more for regular access to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak (see 4 August 2021 - Labour questions link between Tory co-chair and Huawei PR firm).
Despite being cleared, Harry Rich, the registrar, had written to Elliot advising him “to be cautious about the possibility of engaging in consultant lobbying activity (perhaps unintentionally) by not making a clear enough distinction between his role as a director of Quintessentially and his other activities connected to government”.
The investigation summary can be found here.
12 September 2021 - Priti Patel under fire over reports of 'secret lobbying lunch' with Tory donor
UK: Home Secretary Priti Patel is once again facing questions over her conduct in relation to reports of a 'secret lobbying lunch' with a Tory donor and British Airways without a government official being present. Patel is reported to have attended the meeting on 11 August 2021 at Heathrow Airport's Hilton Garden Inn. In attendance were Arora chief financial officer Carlton Brown, the chief executive of Dubai Airports Paul Griffiths and BA corporate affairs director Lisa Tremble, as well as Ms Patel and fellow Tory MP, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. Kwarteng also wasn't accompanied by any government official.
The ministerial code states: “A private secretary or official should be present for all discussions relating to Government business.”
Patel resigned in 2017 as international development secretary after it emerged she had held unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “The Home Secretary is a serial offender with no regard for the ministerial code. It’s time the Prime Minister took away her get out of jail free card. This secret lobbying lunch would break the rules three times over. She has serious questions to answer and must be investigated by the Cabinet Secretary immediately.” 
Full article here.
1 October 2021 - Home Office, Foreign Office and MoJ worst for openness, finds report
UK: A leading thinktank has named the Home Office, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Justice as the worst-performing government departments for transparency. Launched following the Greensill affair, the report by the Institute for Government found:
- The Home Office published the required data on senior officials’ meetings in just three of 23 quarters between the 2015 election and March 2021.
- The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, which was created in September 2020, did not publish any information on meetings held by ministers or officials until September 2021.
- The Ministry of Justice is by far the least reliable department on ministerial releases, often publishing data late, and failing to publish any information on five occasions.
- The MoJ is also the least reliable department on special adviser data, failing to publish on six occasions.
The full report can be viewed here.
21 October 2021 - COP26: Document leak reveals nations lobbying to change key climate report
World: The BBC has been handed a huge leak of documents by Greenpeace UK's team of investigative journalists, Unearthed. The documents show Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are among countries asking the UN to downplay the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels. It also shows some wealthy nations are questioning paying more to poorer states to move to greener technologies.
An adviser to the Saudi oil ministry demands "phrases like 'the need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales…' should be eliminated from the report". One senior Australian government official rejects the conclusion that closing coal-fired power plants is necessary, even though ending the use of coal is one of the stated objectives the COP26 conference. Saudi Arabia is the one of the largest oil producers in the world and Australia is a major coal exporter.
Full BBC article here.
26 October 2021 - British MP Owen Paterson faces Commons ban over lobbying rule breaches
UK: Politico reports:
Former U.K. Cabinet minister Owen Paterson faces a 30-day ban from the House of Commons after its watchdog found he “repeatedly” used his position as an MP “to promote the companies by whom he was paid.”
In a hard-hitting report, the Commons standards committee said the Conservative MP, who has served as Northern Ireland secretary and environment secretary, breached lobbying rules in his role as a paid consultant for clinical firm Randox and meat producer Lynn’s Country Foods.
Paterson — whose wife Rose took her own life last year — strongly pushed back against the watchdog’s findings, saying the investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards had gone “against the basic standard of procedural fairness.”
The commissioner launched its investigation into Paterson in 2019 following media reports alleging the MP for North Shropshire had lobbied for the two companies.
Its report found that Paterson made three approaches to the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency relating to Randox and the testing of antibiotics in milk; seven approaches to the same agency concerning Lynn’s Country Foods products; and four approaches to ministers at the Department for International Development relating to Randox and blood testing technology. Those approaches were, it ruled, in breach of a clause in the MP code of conduct prohibiting paid advocacy work.
The probe also found Paterson breached rules on declarations of interest by failing to disclose his interest as a paid consultant to Lynn’s Country Foods in emails to officials at the Food Standards Agency. It admonished him for using his parliamentary office for business meetings with clients 16 times and sending two letters on House of Commons headed notepaper.
The commissioner’s findings were passed to MPs on the standards committee, who today backed its conclusions and said Paterson had “repeatedly used his position as a Member to promote the companies by whom he was paid.”
While it found “no immediate financial benefit” to the two companies because of the approaches, it said Paterson’s contact “could clearly have conferred significant benefits on Randox and Lynn’s in the long term” and called for the MP to be suspended from the Commons for 30 sitting days.
“No previous case of paid advocacy has seen so many breaches or such a clear pattern of behavior in failing to separate private and public interests,” the committee said.
Full politico article here.
The full House of Commons Committee on Standards report into Owen Paterson can be read here.
1 November 2021 - Major reform needed as lobbying rules 'not fit for purpose' says Standards Committee
UK: The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published 'Upholding Standards in Public Life', the final report and recommendations of the Standards Matter 2 review. Writing in the foreword, the committee’s chair, Lord Evans, said: “Transparency around lobbying is poor, and requires better coordination and more consistent publication by the Cabinet Office. He added the reforms were needed “to restore public confidence in the regulation of ethical standards in government”.
34 recommendations are made in the report, among them:
- The Ministerial Code should be reconstituted solely as a code of conduct on ethical standards.
- The Independent Adviser should have the authority to determine breaches of the Ministerial Code.
- The Business Appointment Rules should be amended to prohibit for two years appointments where the applicant has had significant and direct responsibility for policy, regulation, or the awarding of contracts relevant to the hiring company.
- The Business Appointment Rules should be amended to allow ACOBA and government departments to issue a ban on lobbying of up to five years.
- The lobbying ban should include a ban on any work for lobbying firms within the set time limit. *Government departments should publish a list of all unregulated and regulated public appointments.
- The government should update guidance to make clear that informal lobbying, and lobbying via alternative forms of communication such as WhatsApp or Zoom, should be reported to officials.
- Consultant lobbyists should also have to register on the basis of any communications with special advisers, directors general, and directors.
- Consultant lobbyists should have to declare the date, recipient, and subject matter of their lobbying.
The full report can be viewed here.
3 November 2021 - Tory MP avoids suspension after Boris Johnson intervenes in sleaze row
UK: the Conservative government intervenes to prevent MP Owen Paterson from being suspended from Westminster and also the triggering of a possible byelection. An ammendment to the motion to suspend Paterson put forward by Andrea Leadsom was backed by Boris Johnson and whips told Tory MPs to vote in favour of the ammendment. The amendment was passed by 250 votes to 232. Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “We would expect the independent process to be followed and not changed after the verdict – it’s one rule for them, and one rule for the rest of us.”
With the passing of the ammendment a new committee chaired by John Whittingdale will be set up with four other Tory MPs, three from Labour and one from the SNP. The committee will make recommendations about overhauling the standards commissioner role by 3 February 2022.
4 November 2021 - Owen Paterson row: Government U-turn over MPs' conduct plan & Owen Paterson resigns
UK: The government has U-turned on its own plans to overhaul the policing of MPs' conduct just 24 hours after government whips told Tory MPs to vote for its plans via an ammendment put forward by Andrea Leadsom.
Boris Johnson's spokesman said the prime minister had "recognised the strength of feeling on all sides of the House" and "changed his mind when it became clear that a cross-party consensus on the changes was not possible".
Following the government's U-turn Owen Paterson resigned as an MP stating he now wanted a life "outside the cruel world of politics".
5 November 2021 - Johnson will not declare Spanish holiday in MPs’ register, says No 10
UK: The Guardian reports:
Boris Johnson will not declare a free luxury holiday he received at the Spanish villa belonging to the Goldsmith family in the register of MPs’ interests, Downing Street has said, meaning he does not have to detail the value of the gift.
Johnson listed the near week-long stay in the Marbella property in October in the register of ministerial interests. It confirmed the holiday was provided free of charge by the family of Zac Goldsmith, the former Conservative MP who is now a peer and an environment minister.
However, this register does not detail monetary values. The separate register of MPs’ interests does but on Friday Johnson’s spokesman said the prime minister had no plans to list it there.
Full article here.
Labour's deputy leader, Angela Rayner, has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, saying the public would draw the conclusion the PM was "dishing out cushy jobs to his friends who pay for his luxury holidays".
8 November 2021 - Hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists flooding COP26 climate talks
World / UK: Data analysis by Global Witness shows that there are more lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry at COP26 than any national delegation. There were at least 503 fossil fuel lobbyists in attendance.
The analysis found:
- If the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation at COP it would be the largest with 503 delegates – two dozen more than the largest country delegation.
- Over 100 fossil fuel companies are represented at COP with 30 trade associations and membership organisations also present
- Fossil fuel lobbyists dwarf the UNFCCC’s official indigenous constituency by around two to one.
- The fossil fuel lobby at COP is larger than the combined total of the eight delegations from the countries worst affected by climate change in the last two decades - Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Mozambique, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Pakistan.
- 27 official country delegations registered fossil fuel lobbyists, including Canada, Russia and Brazil.
Full press release here.
9 November 2021 - At least a quarter of Tory MPs have second jobs, earning £5m a year
UK: Analysis by The Guardian shows that more than a quarter of Tory MPs have second jobs with firms whose activities range from gambling to private healthcare, making about £5m in extra earnings in a year. The study of the register of MPs' interests shows that more than 90 Tory MPs (out of a total of 360) have extra jobs outside of parliament. By comparison, only 3 Labour MPs have extra jobs on top of their parliament work.
The Guardian reports:
Geoffrey Cox, the former attorney general, is making £1.6m a year as a barrister, while Chris Grayling, the former transport secretary, is earning £100,000 a year from Hutchison Ports Europe, the register shows.
John Redwood, a former Welsh secretary, is earning more than £230,000 working for an investment advisory company, Charles Stanley, and a private equity firm, while Alun Cairns, a former Welsh secretary, acts as adviser to a Wales-based global diagnostics company, BBI, with all his consultancy roles bringing in a total of £60,000.
Liam Fox, a former trade secretary, has a £10,000 contract with WorldPR, a Panama-based PR company for advice on business and international politics, while Julian Smith, the former chief whip, is making about £144,000 a year from advisory roles with marine, renewables and hydrogen firms.
Although ministers are not supposed to have second jobs, some have managed to hold on to them in currently unpaid capacities. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, remains an unpaid partner in Somerset Capital Management LLP, an investment management firm. Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, is also still an unpaid director of Atlantic Solway Holdings, an investment company in the sport fishing sector.
Two Tories have jobs linked to the gambling industry: Laurence Robertson, Tory MP for Tewkesbury, gets £24,000 a year to be a parliamentary adviser to the Betting and Gaming Council, while Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, is paid £16,660 by GVC Holdings, owner of Coral and Ladbrokes, plus £12,000 a year by the National Pawnbroking Association.
Full article here.
10 November 2021 - Geoffrey Cox accrued at least £6m from second job while a parliamentarian
UK: The Gaurdian reports:
Sir Geoffrey Cox has earned at least £6m from his second job since he entered parliament, a Guardian analysis reveals, and records show that he skipped 12 recent votes on days when he was doing paid legal work.
The revelations came as Boris Johnson, the prime minister, took the unusual step of seeking to reassure the public that the UK was “not remotely a corrupt country” as the Conservative party continued to be engulfed in a slew of sleaze allegations.
Johnson pointedly did not defend the under-fire Cox, however, whose earnings since becoming a Conservative MP in 2005 have come under intense scrutiny in recent days following the revelations that he spent a month in the British Virgin Islands this year doing paid legal work.
Further questions about Cox’s commitment to his job as MP are likely to be raised after the Guardian also discovered that he had skipped at least 12 parliamentary votes on four days when he appeared by video link in a hearing for the British Virgin Islands (BVI) authorities this autumn.
In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson stressed that MPs should always put their constituents’ interests first, and avoid paid lobbying.
Full article here.
15 November 2021 - Labour asks for lobbying by four Tory MPs to be investigated
UK: Labour's Fleur Anderson, the shadow cabinet office minister has asked cabinet secretary Simon Case to investigate pfficials' communication with four Conservative MPs with lobbying jobs with firms that secured multimillion government contracts or significant beneficial rule changes. Anderson highlighted Iain Duncan Smith, who is facing questions over a conflict of interest over his £25,000-a-year second job advising Byotrol, a multimillion-pound hand sanitiser company and his chairing of a government taskforce that recommended new rules benefiting the firm. Anderson also asks for Alun Cairns, Mark Pawsley and Philip Dunne to be investigated for ‘possible breaches of rules’.
26 November 2021 - Letting Hammond off shows PM won’t tackle corruption, says Labour
UK: Former chancellor Philip Hammond will face no disciplinary action despite an official ruling against his use of government connections. In August 2021 (see 8 August 2021 - Labour accuses Philip Hammond of breaking ministerial code), the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) said it was an “unwise step” for Hammond to contact a senior Treasury official about a project developed by OakNorth, a bank he was paid to advise.
Former Tory MP, peer and chair of Acoba, Eric Pickles, ruled that Hammond should not have sought to use contacts made in government. Pickles wrote to Michael Gove who was then lead Cabinet Office Minister as it would be up to Gove to determine what, if any, sanctions Hammond would face. Gove has since moved to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
Labour's Angela Raynor tabled a written parliamentary question on 22 November asking whether any sanctioning of Hammond was forthcoming. The reply, from Michael Ellis, who as paymaster general holds a more junior Cabinet Office title, told Rayner that “although we concur with the committee’s conclusion, we do not believe further sanctions should be taken given the particular circumstances of this case”.
Raynor said: “By letting Hammond off the hook, the government has muzzled its own watchdog. Even when their own hand-picked anti-corruption tsar, a former Tory cabinet minister, asks them to take action over a flagrant breach of the rules they have outright refused.”
24 January 2022 - Former Tory minister Steve Brine criticised for lobbying role on Covid contract
UK: Conservative MP Steve Brine has been rebuked by the Westminster lobbying watchdog for setting up a meeting between Sigma Pharmaceuticals and the then Covid-19 vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi. Brine was paid £200 an hour as a “strategic adviser” to Sigma Pharmaceuticals and two months after the meeting the company was awarded a £100,000 contract to deliver lateral flow tests to pharmacies.
Eric Pickles, chair of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), said on he was “growing increasingly concerned that not all former Ministers of the Crown are sufficiently clear on the various standards of behaviour, rules and legislation that are incumbent on them.” He added there was “reasonable concern that [Brine’s] direct involvement with the then minister for Covid vaccine deployment during the pandemic was only made available to Sigma as a direct result of Mr Brine’s time as a minister at the Department of Health and Social Care”.
Pickles said it was not “in keeping with the letter or the spirit of the government’s rules for a former minister at DHSC [the Department of Health and Social Care] to contact a minister with responsibilities for health on behalf of a pharmaceutical company which pays him” and called on Steve Barclay, the Cabinet Office minister, to “decide what appropriate action to take”.
Full report here.
4 February 2022 - Revealed: Tory MP Bob Blackman was ‘fed’ propaganda by Azerbaijani embassy for parliamentary debates
UK: Senior Tory MP Bob Blackman boasted that he was handed propaganda by the Azerbaijani embassy to lobby the UK government, according to an investigation by openDemocracy. Blackman, chair of the Azerbaijan All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) made the boast on an episode of the eye2eyepodcast podcast (watch here). He also said "On a regular basis I put down positions on behalf of our good friends in Azerbaijan.".
Blackman – an executive secretary of the Conservatives’ influential backbench 1922 Committee – has taken seven free trips, worth tens of thousands of pounds, to oil-rich Azerbaijan since 2011. The three most recent trips were paid for by either the Azerbaijani parliament or its London embassy.
In 2020, he urged the then foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, to take Azerbaijan’s side in its bloody territorial dispute with Armenia over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in which thousands of people are believed to have died. Both sides have been accused of carrying out war crimes.
Blackman has received a series of briefings from high-level Azerbaijani figures, including Azerbaijani MP Javanshir Feyziyev – who was at the centre of a high-profile court case that saw £5.6m of laundered cash ordered to be seized from his family’s bank accounts this week.
As well as writing to Raab, Blackman has tabled four pro-regime motions in the Commons since July 2020 and written to Raab’s successor, Liz Truss, urging her to strengthen ties with Azerbaijan. Apart from in one instance, the MP did not mention that he had accepted hospitality connected to the state within the preceding year.
Full report here.
11 February 2022 - MP watchdog investigates Conservative Andrew Bridgen over donation
UK: The BBC reports:
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen is being investigated by the parliamentary watchdog over claims of lobbying and failing to fully declare interests.
Last month, The Times said he accepted £5,000 through his local Conservative association from a firm after having raised its tax issues with a minister.
The paper said Mr Bridgen contacted the minister following a trip to the firm's teak plantation in Ghana in 2019.
The MP told the BBC the trip and donation had been "fully declared".
He said the accusations being investigated by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone were a "repeat of the allegations made in an article by The Times" and that he had "never personally received any money from Mere Plantations or anyone associated with them".
Mr Bridgen also has an advisory role with the company, Mere Plantations, which the BBC has been told is unpaid.
Full report here.
16 February 2022 - Meta’s Clegg Promoted as Zuckerberg Steps Back From Policy
Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has promoted his top policy executive, Nick Clegg, to an even greater role inside the company -- a move that will mean less involvement in future policy decisions for the CEO and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. Clegg was already running Meta’s global policy organization, but Zuckerberg said in a post Wednesday that he will now “lead our company on all our policy matters,” including interactions with governments and how Meta will “make the case publicly for our products and our work.” Clegg, who was reporting to Sandberg, is now reporting to Zuckerberg too, with the new title of president for global affairs.
Full report here.
17 February 2022 - Lobbying fears as MPs’ interest groups receive £13m from private firms
UK: Analysis by the Guardian and openDemocracy highlights the scale of private sector funding of all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs). Since 2018 the private sector provided over half of all funding (more than £13 million) to APPGs.
Chris Bryant, chair of the Commons standards committee called for new powers to allow parliamentary authorites to shut down groups where there are clear conflicts of interest. Bryant said "APPGs cannot be a back door means of peddling influence around the corridors of power without scrutiny. Nor should they purport to carry the seal of approval of the whole House."
The Guardian reports:
A number of APPGs are sponsored by companies with interests in the policy areas the groups seek to influence. In situations where there is no conflict of interest, concerns may arise over the perception of one. Examples include:
- The obesity APPG, which has sought to promote medical interventions for obesity, received £178,500 to £183,000 between 2019 and 2021 from three private healthcare companies that make or promote gastric bands or drugs used in obesity surgery and treatment: Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic and Novo Nordisk. The support was used to pay for a lobbyist, HealthComms Consulting, to run the APPG’s secretariat. The lobbyist says on its website that the APPG promoted calls for “a shift away from the ‘move more, eat less’ mentality prevalent in obesity thinking and better utilisation of treatment for obesity and access to services”. It adds that the APPG “had direct input into the government’s obesity strategy published in July 2020 through meeting with No 10 officials and the development of a top 10 policy wishlist”. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
- MPs from the armed forces APPG took a trip to Bosnia last autumn as it stood on the brink of conflict, with hospitality and transport part-funded by an arms company, Lockheed Martin, and the defence support company CAE. Lockheed Martin’s head of government affairs accompanied them for one night and to a dinner. A Tory MP on the visit, James Sunderland, subsequently spoke in a Commons debate about the need for the UK to be “part of the solution in the country [Bosnia]” without declaring the trip’s funding. James Gray, the APPG’s chairman, said the trip should have been declared as paid for by the APPG, of whom Lockheed Martin and CAE are “merely sponsors”. He said the companies “had nothing to gain” from the trip, and the subscribers to the APPG “do so because they believe in having a good group of MPs and peers who understand defence”. A Lockheed Martin spokesperson said funding for the visit “would have come from the APPG’s funds and not specifically from Lockheed Martin UK’s contributions”. Sunderland did not comment.
- In areas related to the climate crisis, the secretariat of the sustainable aviation APPG is an alliance of airlines and airports, while energy companies provided tens of thousands of pounds in the past year for the consultancy running the net zero APPG. Graham Brady, a senior Tory who chairs the sustainable aviation APPG, said it was formed to support collaboration between the aviation sector and parliament, adding: “The benefits in kind reported on the register represent routine secretarial work carried out to facilitate meetings of the group. No direct funding is involved and no benefits in kind have been given to members of the group.”
Full report here.
19 February 2022 - Six Tory donors given top cultural posts since Boris Johnson became PM
UK: Since becoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed six Tory donors in top roles at the UK's leading cultural institutions. Between them, the donors have contributed more than £3 million to the Conservative Party and have been appointed to the boards of the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate and the British Museum.
Full report here.
UK: Following on from the Guardian and openDemocracy investigation into private sector funding and influencing of All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG), further revelations were revealed today. They include the key role oil and gas producers including Shell, BP and ExxonMobil provide with administration and public relations support to groups of MPs.
The Guardian reports:
The UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) – an alliance of eight of the world’s biggest oil companies – is playing a key role in the running of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on downstream energy and fuels. The association’s involvement is not listed as a benefit, and the names of the firms it represents do not appear in official parliamentary records. But it has helped arrange and chair meetings for the APPG and is listed as the public inquiry point, meaning people getting in touch about parliamentary business may first encounter an oil-industry PR representative.
The association’s members have also had access to MPs. In a meeting of the APPG in June – which the trade body jointly chaired – MPs were given keynote presentations by two of its members, the oil giants BP and Phillips 66.
The UKPIA said the APPG was “set up in accordance with relevant guidance” to consider the role the sector could “play in meeting government net zero goals” and that its “limited activities” meant the value of its services did not meet the £1,500 threshold.
Another trade body, Oil & Gas UK, recently rebranded as Offshore Energies UK, is listed as the inquiry point for the British offshore oil and gas industry APPG.
The association – which states that its primary goal is to ensure the North Sea “remains an attractive place to do business” – coordinates meetings, distributes invites and prepares minutes for the APPG but says the total value of its services is less than £100.
Its link to the group has given it access to the heart of Westminster. In 2020 a reception for the APPG was held on the House of Commons Terrace Pavilion “on behalf of” Oil & Gas UK, according to hospitality logs. A spokesman said: “Offshore Energies UK acts as the secretariat for the APPG but recent costs have been minimal. The cost in the last reporting year, for February 2021, fell below £100.”
Full report here.
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