Difference between revisions of "Lobbying regulation - chronology 2010-2019"

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(May 21st - Charities may face criminal sanctions as 'gagging law' backdated before election)
(June 22nd - Trump appointee is a Saudi government lobbyist)
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Full article [http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-ethics-idUSKBN18N00N here].
Full article [http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-ethics-idUSKBN18N00N here].
====June 22nd - Trump appointee is a Saudi government lobbyist====
'''US:''' The [[Center for Public Integrity]] reports on [[Richard Hohlt]]'s appointment by [[Donald Trump]], highlighting his lobbying activities on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government:
<blockquote style="background-color:beige;border:1pt solid Darkgoldenrod;padding:1%">One of President [[Donald Trump]]’s newest appointees is a registered agent of Saudi Arabia earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby on the kingdom’s behalf, according to U.S. Department of Justice records reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.
Since January, the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry has paid longtime Republican lobbyist [[Richard Hohlt]] about $430,000 in exchange for “advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.”
Trump’s decision to appoint a registered foreign agent to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships clashes with the president’s vow to clean up Washington and limit the influence of special interests.
Trump singled out lobbyists for foreign governments for special criticism, saying they shouldn’t be permitted to contribute to political campaigns. Hohlt is himself a Trump donor, though his contributions came before he registered to represent Saudi Arabia.
“I will issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT! #DrainTheSwamp,” he tweeted in October.<ref>[https://www.publicintegrity.org/2017/06/22/20938/trump-appointee-saudi-government-lobbyist Trump appointee is a Saudi government lobbyist], ''Center for Public Integrity'', 22 June 2017.</ref> </blockquote>
Full article [https://www.publicintegrity.org/2017/06/22/20938/trump-appointee-saudi-government-lobbyist here].
====June 28th - Trump's ex-campaign chief registers as foreign agent over Ukraine work====
====June 28th - Trump's ex-campaign chief registers as foreign agent over Ukraine work====

Revision as of 12:33, 4 July 2017

Twenty-pound-notes.jpg This article is part of the Lobbying Portal, a sunlight project from Spinwatch.

This page lists the history of debates on Lobbying regulation, in Scotland, the UK, the EU and the US.

See also:


2010 - 2019


February - SpinWatch publish 'An Inside Job: A Snapshot of Political Schmoozing by the City'

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[1]

February 8th - Cameron says lobbying is next big scandal

UK: David Cameron announces he will introduce measures to curb the lobbying industry. The Telegraph reports:

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.”[2]

Full article here.

February 28th - Commons perk for disgraced ex-MPs

'Commons perk for disgraced ex-MPs', The Times, February 28 2010.

UK: 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."[3]

Full article here.

March 14th - Embarrassment for David Cameron over Tory Hopefuls' lobbying links

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.[4] 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.[4]

Full article here.

March 22nd - Dispatches - 'Politicians for Hire' is broadcast

Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon secretly filmed in Channel 4's Disptaches, 22 March 2010.

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'.[5]

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".[6]

Full article here.

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’.[7] 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’[8]

The Labour Government was not, however, alone in their attempts at damage limitation. Lobbyists were similarly provoked into ‘an impromptu PR offensive’[9] 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’.[9]

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.[10]

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?[10]

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.’ [11] 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’[12] 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[13] Whereas Francis Ingham of PRCA argues that the Conservatives are ‘right in resisting the temptation to match Labour’s volte face[14], Alastair Ross from the Association for Scottish Public Affairs (ASPA) argues that the Conservative position ‘has changed with the public mood’.[14]

April 6th - 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.[15]

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."[15]

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."[15]

May 11th - UK Coalition Commits to Statutory Register of Lobbyists

UK: The commitment to a statutory register became one of the concessions made by the Conservatives in securing their coalition with the Liberal Democrats[16] 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.[17]

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.’[18] Accordingly, CIPR's Iain Anderson remarks that ‘It is good news that... UK PAC [is welcomed] as the statutory model'.[14] 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.[18]

June - Poll find majority of lobbyists now support a statutory register

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.[16]

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[19]

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.[20] 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.[20]

June 3rd - Nearly 15% of all new Tory MPs come straight from lobbying background

UK: SpinWatch reveal that "nearly 15% of all new Tory MPs elected on May 6th (2010) come straight from lobbying backgrounds". [21]

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."[22]

June 29th - Early Day Motion regarding a statutory register of lobbyists

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.[23]

July - The UK Public Affairs Council (UKPAC) is officially established

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.[24] 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..[25]

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.[26]

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’..[25] 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.[27]

July 12th - Labour MP Austin Mitchell lodges Early Day Motion regarding a statutory register of lobbyists

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.[28]

July 27th - Coalition Government publishes a report on July 27th 2010 outlining target dates for political reform

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.[29]

July 29th - Debate turns to the role of think-tanks within lobbying legislation

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'.[30]

November 15th - CIPR members who lobby are urged to sign up to UKPAC’s lobby register within the next 10 weeks

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.[31]

December 2nd - Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2010 winners revealed

Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2010.

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.[32]


February - UKPAC’s register is expected to launch publicly

UK: UKPAC’s register is expected to launch publicly. It will be electronically searchable.[31]

March 1st - UKPAC launch criticism

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.'[33] 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”.”.[34]

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.[35]

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?[36]

March 21st - Three MEPs were prepared to secretly change legislation for money

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.[37]

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.[38]

Full article here.

May 11th - MEPs vote to support mandatory lobby transparency register

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.[39]

August 5th - Conservatives in Communications group revealed

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.[40]

August 18th - Guardian investigation reveals Adam Werritty's involvement in Dubai meeting between Liam Fox and Harvey Boulter

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.[41]

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.[41]

Full article here.

18th March - Liberal Democrats offer lobbyists face-to-face meetings with ministers for £25,000 a year

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."[42]

Full article here.

October 7th - Investigate into whether Liam Fox broke ministerial code launched

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"[43]

October 8th - Henry boulter contradicts Liam Fox / Cameron ask Sir Gus O'Donnell to examine MoD's internal investigation

UK: Contradicting Liam Fox's claim that a Dubai meeting with Harvey Boulter happened by chance, Boulter himself states:

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.[44]

UK: David Cameron asks the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, to examine the findings of the Ministry of Defence's own internal investigation into Liam Fox's links to Adam Werritty.[45]

October 10th - Guardian reveals political lobbyists paid thousands of pounds to help facilitate secretive meeting between Liam Fox and Dubai-based businessman

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.[46]

Full article here.

October 11th - Inquiry to ask Werritty to disclose full client list and sources of income

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."[47]

Full article here.

October 13th - Labour questions £170,000 cost of Liam Fox's official advisers

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."[48]

Full article here.

October 14th - Liam Fox resigns over Werritty scandal

Liam Fox resigns as pressure continues to mount over his working relationship with Adam Werritty, The Guardian, 14 October 2011[49]

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.[49]

Full article here.

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.[50]

October 15th - Liam Fox resignation exposes Tory links to US radical right

An investigation by The Observer reveals that Fox's now defunct charity, Atlantic Bridge, employed lobbyists and lawyers with connections to defence and energy industries.[51]

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.[51]

Full article here.

October 16th - Fox resigns: Police consider Werritty probe / Government ministers held over 1,500 meetings with corporate sector over 10 months

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.[52]

Full article here.

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.[53]

David Miller of Spinwatch interviewed on the BBC 10 O'Clock News, 16 October 2011.

UK: In the wake of the Adam Werritty scandal and amid renewed calls for a statutory register of lobbyists, David Miller of SpinWatch is interviewed on the BBC 10 O'Clock News. Miller said:

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.[54]

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. [55]

October 17th - Hammond linked to millionaire backer behind Fox's charity / Number 10 won't speed up lobbying industry regulation

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.[56]

Full article here.

UK: Downing Street state that new proposals to regulate lobbying will not be sped up in light of the row over Liam Fox and his close relationship with Adam Werritty. The PM's official spokesman said:

"These are separate things. There's always been a policy to move to a statutory register (of lobbying). That work has been on-going."[57]

October 19th - Liam Fox resignation speech / The Independent reveals Werritty met with Israeli Secret Service representatives

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.[58]

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."[58]

Full article here.

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.[59] 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.[60]

Full article here.

October 23th - Jim Murphy demands PM reveal full extent of wrongdoing which took place at the heart of 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."[61]

October 26th - Donor in Liam Fox scandal revealed as defence lobbyist Stephen Crouch

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.[62]

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."[62]

Full article here.

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."[63]

Full article here.

December 5th - PR uncovered: Top lobbyists boast of how they influence the PM

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.[64]

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".[65] Full article here.

December 8th - Wikipedia investigates PR firm Bell Pottinger's edit

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.[66]

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.' [67]


January 18th - Donald Trump may fail to follow through on Scottish golf resort plan

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.[68]

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[69] only for that decision to be overturned by the Scottish Government in November 2008.[70]

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.[71]

January 20th - UK Government publishes lobby register consultation paper

UK: 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.[72] Trade Unions and charities may also be required to sign up to the register.[73]

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.'[74]

January 24th - Chemistry Club 'cash-for-access' revealed

UK: 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.[75]

Full article here.

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.[76]

Tamasin Cave of SpinWatch said 'Lobbying is a tactical investment which affects companies' bottom line – they do not spend £1,800 for nothing'.[75]

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.[77]

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.'[78]

January 25th - Further Chemistry Club revelations

UK: 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."[79]

Full article here.

January 27th - Michael Gove criticised for awarding public funds to organisation he advised

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. [80] The Community Security Trust (CST) provides "physical security, training and advice for the protection of British Jews." [81]

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."[80]

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.[82]

January 30th - Lobbying official turned down reform meetings

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.

Walsh-Atkins stood down from her position after posting a message on Twitter stating she hoped Unlock Democracy, a group campaigning for better lobbying regulation, 'would die'.[83]

February 8th - EU Privacy regulations subject to 'unprecedented lobbying'

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.[84]

February 10th - Call for info on lobbyist meetings with Welsh minister

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.[85]

February 21st - Climate change sceptic thinktank not 'influential' enough to reveal funder

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." [86]

Full article here.

February 29th - NCVO changes its mind on 'weak' lobbying register

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.'[87]

March 2nd - Labour ups the ante on lobbying transparency

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.'[88]

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.'[89]

March 6th - Cameron 'almost certainly' breached ministerial code over Werritty affair

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."[90]

Philip Mawer, who has since stood down from his post, expressed 'frustration' that Cameron did not call on him to investigate the case.[91]

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.'[92]

March 7th - Nuclear lobby keep up pressure after Fukushima

EU: 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.'[93]

The full text version of 'Nuclear Contamination. A year after Fukushima, why does Brussels still back nuclear power?' can be viewed here.

March 13th - Government adviser linked to tobacco industry / Top four lobby firms spend more than ever on lobbying in US

UK: 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".[94]

Full article here.

USA: 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.[95]

Full article here.

March 19th - Peers links to private healthcare industry revealed

UK: 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.[96]

Full article here.

March 25th - Peter Cruddas cash-for-access claim; resigns as co-treasurer of Conservative Party

A still from the Sunday Times undercover video which appears to show Peter Cruddas offering access to the prime minister David Cameron in return for donations to the Conservative Party.

UK: The Sunday Times publish a secretly recorded video showing Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas offering access to government in return for donations of money. In the video Cruddas states:

'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.' [97]

Peter Cruddas resigns following the release of a secretly recorded video appeared to show him offering access to David Cameron in return for donations to the Conservative Party.

Peter Cruddas resigns from his position as co-treasurer of the Conservative Party following the release of the undercover Sunday Times video. In a statement Cruddas said:

'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.' [98]

Peter Cruddas took libel action against Times Newspapers Ltd over the cash-for-access allegations and successfully won the case on 5 June 2013.[99] The Sunday Times has applied for permission to appeal.

UK: It is announced that the Tory peer and hedge fund millionaire Stanley Fink is to replace Peter Cruddas as the Conservative Party treasurer.[100]

March 26th - Conservative website: donors offered dinner with Cameron / Cameron releases details of meetings with donors

UK: The Conservative Party website openly offers donors the opportunity to attend events, including dinners, where David Cameron and other senior Tory figures are present.[101] 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.[102]

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.[103]

UK: 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.[104]

Full article here.

March 28th - Conservative Party has received over £100,000 from lobbying industry since General Election

UK: 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.[105]

March 29th - Concern over Salmond Bute House 'tea party' / Adam Werritty paid £70,000 by Tory donor-funded Pargav Limited

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.[106] 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".[107]

Under existing Scottish Government disclosure rules only the details of guests who attend lunch, dinner or drinks receptions are required to be published.[108]

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."[109]

March 31st - David Cameron to face questions over meetings with fund raising group at Downing Street

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. [110]

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.' [111]

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.' [111]

April 1st - Cash for access: Peter Cruddas 'bankrolled Chequers event'

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.' [112]

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'.' [113]

April 2nd - Alex Salmond asks to be investigated over ministerial code / Labour MSP Neil Findlay to table a members’ bill with aim of regulating lobbying in Scottish Parliament

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.[106] 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.[114]

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.'[115]

April 3rd - Peter Cruddas cash-for-access affair / Government's register of lobbyists would only cover 5% of lobbyists

Tamasin Cave of Spinwatch is interviewed on the BBC's Newsnight, 3 April 2012.

UK: In the wake of the Peter Cruddas cash-for-access affair Tamasin Cave of Spinwatch is interviewed on the BBC's Newsnight programme. Cave said:

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.[116]

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.[117]

Full article here.

April 4th - PRCA clear Bell Pottinger of wrong-doing

UK: 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.[118]

April 10th - Lobbyists help big business influence European Citizens' Initiative / All-party parliamentary groups receive £1.8m from businesses, overseas governments and lobby groups

EU: 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.[119]

UK: 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. [120]

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.' [120]

April 12th - Majority of coalition MPs favour lobbying register to include in-house lobbyists

UK: 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. [121]

April 14th - American Nazi Party registers first lobbyist

USA: 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. [122]

April 16th - Committee on Standards in Public Life publish recommendations on lobby register

UK: 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.' [123]

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.' [123]

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.[124]

The full press release can be downloaded here.

April 17th - Conservative Lord lobbies on behalf of Cayman Islands

UK: 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.
  • Followed an Early Day Motion in the Commons calling for the Caymans to be closed down as a tax haven by trying to introduce the MP responsible, the former Treasury Select Committee member John Cryer, to members of a Cayman Islands delegation in London. (The meeting never took place.) [125]

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.'[126]

Labour Shadow Cabinet Minister Jon Trickett said: 'It can’t be right that a member of the legislature, which is responsible for setting tax policy, can be employed by a well-known tax haven.'[126]

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.' [127] 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.[128]

UK: David Maclean to be referred to House of Lords Commissioner for Standards.

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.'[129]

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.' [129]

April 24th - Cruddas complaint over Sunday Times undercover investigation / Links between MPs and private healthcare industry revealed

UK: 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.'[130]

UK: 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.[131]

The full Social Investigations article can be read here.

UK: 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.[132]

April 25th - Adam Smith, special adviser to Jeremy Hunt, resigns / Salmond to appear before Leveson Inquiry / Salmond planned to speak to Hunt over BSkyB bid

UK: 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.'[133]

Scotland: 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.[134]

The emails of Frédéric Michel, James Murdoch's chief lobbyist, seem to show that Alex Salmond was eager to support the BSkyB bid. One such email read:

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.[135]

Scotland: 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.[136]

April 26th - Hunt / News Corp communications given to Leveson Inquiry / 'No plans' to investigate Hunt says No 10.

UK: 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!' [137]

UK: 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.'[138]

May 2nd - PM's aide discussed BSkyB takeover with News Corp lobbyist

UK: 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.[139]

David Cameron has repeatedly stated that he had no involvement in the attempted BSkyB deal.

May 7th - Ruder Finn to provide PR for Maldives regime

UK: 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'.[140]

May 9th - Head of EFSA resigns over possible conflict of interest

EU: 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.

Martin Pigeon of Corporate Europe Observatory said 'She's moving without any cooling off period - she will be lobbying the very administration she was chairing until today'.[141]

May 10th - Andy Coulson appears before the Leveson Inquiry

UK: 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'.[142] 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.[143]

May 17th - Lobbying register 'to be introduced by 2015'

UK: Mark Harper, the constitutional reform minister, states that the government is 'determined' to introduce a register of lobbyists by 2015.[144]

May 21st - Jeremy Hunt to be investigated over donations

UK: 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.[145]

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.[145]

May 25th - Hunt BSkyB memo to Cameron published / David Cameron defends Jeremy Hunt's handling of BSkyB bid

UK: The Leveson Inquiry publishes the original draft memo from Jeremy Hunt to David Cameron regarding the Murdoch's takeover bid for BSkyB. The Guardian reports:

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!"[146]

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'.[147]

May 28th - Blair: Murdoch did not lobby me

UK: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair tells the Leveson Inquiry that Rupert Murdoch did not lobby him directly over media policy while he was in office. The Guardian reports:

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.[148]

May 29th - Nuclear lobby to blame for Fukushima says former PM

Japan: 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.'[149]

May 31st - Jeremy Hunt gives evidence to the Leveson Inquiry / Jeremy Hunt will not face ministerial code inquiry

UK: 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!'[150]

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.[151]
  • 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.[151]
  • 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.[151]
  • Hunt said that his gmail account was the only account he used and that his departmental emails were looked after by his private office.[151]

UK: 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'.[152]

June 1st - Labour to call for investigation into Jeremy Hunt

UK: 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.[153]

June 2nd - Nick Clegg refuses to back Jeremy Hunt

UK: 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?'[154]

June 3rd - Jeremy Hunt 'acted wisely' says Cameron

UK: David Cameron insists that Jeremy Hunt 'acted wisely' throughout his handling of the BSkyB takeover bid.

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.'[155]

June 9th - Scotland Yard to investigate Peter Cruddas's claims of cash-for-access

UK: 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.

'It's vital that their investigation is allowed to take its course and that they receive the fullest support from both Downing Street and the Conservative Party.'[156]

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.[157]

June 11th - Hunt should have resigned says Lib Dems' Lord Oakeshott

UK: 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'.[158]

Oakeshott was the former Lib Dem treasury spokesman and is a close ally of the Business Secretary Vince Cable. He made his comments to Channel 4's Dispatches programme.[159]

June 12th - John Major: Murdoch 'threatened to drop Tories over Europe'

UK: 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.[160]

When giving his own evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on 25 April 2012 Rupert Murdoch declared 'I have never asked a prime minister for anything.'[161] In reference to Murdoch's claim Major said:

'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'.[162]

July 9th - Finance industry spent £92m lobbying for favourable policy changes

UK: 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 slashing of UK corporation tax and taxes on banks’ overseas branches, after a lobbying barrage by the City of London Corporation, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) and the Association of British Insurers. The reform will save the finance industry billions.
• 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.[163]

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.'[164]

July 10th - House of Bankers: 16% of Lords are paid by City firms

UK: 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.[165]

July 29th - Osborne accused over gas lobbyist father-in-law

UK: 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."[166]

October 10th - Lobbyists dominating party conference, say senior Tories

UK: 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.[167]

October 14th - Arms firms call up ‘generals for hire'

Arms firms call up generals for hire, The Sunday Times, 14 October 2012.

UK: The Sunday Times releases secretly recorded footage of former military officers offering to lobby on behalf of the defence industry.[168] 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.[169]

October 16th - Liam Fox sues over Adam Werritty claims

UK: 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.[170]

October 17th - Labour urges tougher lobbying rules after generals sting

UK: 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.'[171]

October 31st - David Cameron adviser Jonathan Luff quits to join payday lender Wonga as lobbyist / Adam Werritty fraud investigation dropped over insufficient evidence


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.[172]

UK: 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".[173]

November 5th - Iain Duncan Smith adviser being paid by thinktank lobbying his department

UK: 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".[174]

November 18th - Calls for lobbyists to declare their dealings with MSPs

Scotland: 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.[175]

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.[176]

November 23rd - David Cameron's former NHS privatisation adviser becomes lobbyist

UK: 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.[177]

November 28th - Nuclear lobbyists wined and dined senior civil servants, documents show

UK: 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.[178]

November 29th - Leveson criticises Salmond for offering to lobby on behalf of Murdoch

Scotland: 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.[179]

December 9th - Lib Dem deputy investigated over lobbying

UK: '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.[180]


January 2nd - Companies Pay MPs In Lobbying Free-For-All At Westminster

UK: 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.[181]

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.[182]

January 6th - MSPs fail to follow financial declaration rules on lobbyists

Scotland: 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.[183]

May 7th - Ernst & Young lobbies against tax transparency at Downing Street

UK: 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.[184] 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.[185]

May 17th - Final proposal of the Lobbying Transparency (Scotland) Bill lodged

Scotland: 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. [186] A summary of the consultation process can be found here (pdf).

May 31st - MP Patrick Mercer resigns following BBC Panorama lobbying claims / Patrick Mercer's parliamentary questions on Fiji

UK: 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."[187]

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.”[188]

UK: 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."[189]

June 2nd - Lobbying claims: Two peers suspended, one resigns

UK: 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."[190]

June 3rd - Lobbying bill will be brought to parliament by end of July, says No 10 / Cash for questions: Lobbyists stripped of Westminster passes / David Cameron is accused of using lobbying scandal to curb Labour’s trade union support

UK: 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.[191]

UK: 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.[192]

UK: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.”[193]

June 4th - Lobbying scandal: some Westminster passes to be banned / Research reveals £2.2m in 'extras' for MPs and Lords

UK: 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." [194]

UK: 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.

• £8,227 and £5,227 from Heineken and Carlsberg respectively, donated to the Beer APPG.

• The 'continence care' all-party group receives support from the Absorbent Hygiene Products Manufacturers Association which acts as the group's secretariat.[195]

The full data can be viewed here.

June 5th - Lobby register plans face legal challenge by industry bodies / Cash for questions: Promise of MP in pay of lobby group / Former Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas wins libel action over 'cash for policy' claims

UK: 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.’[196]

UK: 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.[197]

UK: 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.[198]

June 9th - Lobby row: Energy policy MP Tim Yeo 'filmed boasting about introducing businessmen to Government'

UK: 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.[199]

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".[200]

June 10t - Tim Yeo steps aside as committee chair amid lobbying claimsh

UK: 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.[201]

June 13th - Peers cleared of breaching the lobby code

UK: 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.[202]

June 26th - Bank lobby needs 'ground rules' to prevent another crisis

UK: 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.”[203]

Paul Tucker, deputy governor of the Bank of England, also said that lobbying was 'completely unacceptable' and wouldn't deter regulators 'one iota' from their tasks.[204]

July 11th - Call to broaden register of lobbyists as new figures show extent of meetings

UK: 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.[205]

July 12th - Government rejects Labour's cigarette 'U-turn' claim

UK: 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.[206]

July 13th - David Cameron told to sack strategy chief over link to tobacco giants

UK: 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.'[207]

July 17th - Ed Miliband demands Lynton Crosby 'conflict of interest' inquiry / Cameron challenged over Crosby tobacco links in PMQ

UK: 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".[208]

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.[209]

UK: 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?"[210]

July 21st - David Cameron: I'm not giving any more answers on Lynton Crosby tobacco talks / Tory strategist Lynton Crosby in new lobbying row

UK: 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.[211]

UK: 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.[212]

July 23rd - Just 23% of lobbyists believe they will be captured by statutory lobbying Register

UK: 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.[213]

July 24th - Tory adviser Crosby: Cigarette lobby claim false

UK: 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.”[214]

August 16th - Cash-for-access: £1,750 for access to the Prime Minister’s bed...

UK: 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.[215]

August 17th - Lobbyists take up third of Tory conference seats

UK: 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'.[216]

September 5th - Report calls for withdrawal of Government's lobbying reforms

UK: 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.[217]

September 7th - Tobacco giant Philip Morris 'spent millions in bid to delay EU legislation

EU:' 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.[218]

September 25th - Energy firms begin lobbying operation against Miliband price-freeze plan

UK: 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."[219]

October 4th - Philip Morris accused of applying ‘intense pressure’ on MEPs ahead of vote on banning some cigarettes

EU: 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.[220]

October 7th - Energy rip-off: 'Big Six' firms too close to ministers, says Ed Miliband

UK: 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.”[221]

October 17th - Merkel on the ropes over claims she has been 'bought' by car lobby

EU: 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.

Klaus Ernst, an MP for Die Linke said "This is the most blatant case of purchased policymaking in a long time, BMW's got Merkel in the bag. No-one has done it that openly before." [222]

November 5th - New MPs need training on lobbyists, says committee / Lobbying bill paused for six weeks to allow government rethink

UK: 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.[223]

UK: 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.[224]

November 14th - Facebook and Microsoft help fund rightwing lobby network, report finds

USA: 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.[225]

Full article here.

November 24th - Activists and MPs take on City’s influence on Parliament

UK: A coalition of MPs, academics and celebrities have urged the Committee on Standards in Public Life to investigate the City of London’s lobbying activities. The Independent reports:

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.[226]

Full article here.


January 8th - Alcohol pricing: government 'dancing to the tune of drinks industry'

UK: 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.[227]

Full article here.

January 12th - Peers bid to exempt charities from lobby bill

UK: 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.[228]

Full article here.

January 22nd - Google Leads Pack As 10 Tech Firms Pump $61.15 Million Into 2013 Lobbying Efforts

USA: 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.[229]

Full article here.

January 28th - Lobbying bill passes through House of Lords

UK: 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.[230]

Full article here.

January 30th - Holyrood lobbying register ‘should have no fees’

Scotland: 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.[231]

Full article here.

February 17th - House of Lords code of conduct may be tightened up

UK: 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.[232]

Full article here.

March 2nd - Call for probe into health forum link to Big Pharma

The Sunday Herald reports on calls for an investigation into a potential conflict of interest in two cross-party health groups administered by Jacquie Forde of the Wellbeing Alliance.[233]

Scotland: 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."[233]

Full article here.

March 30th - Global medical company pay bill for parliament committee's refreshments / Groups campaigning for medicine reform received cash from drug companies / Big Pharma's links to doctors

Scotland: 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.[234]

Full article here.

Scotland: 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.[235]

Full article here.

Scotland: 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.[236]

Full article here.

April 3rd - Labour pledges to repeal Lobbying Act in transparency drive

UK: 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.'[237]

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.[238]

April 5th - Nick Clegg employs 'cash for access’ lobbyist

UK: Nick Clegg has employed Stephen Lotinga, formerly of Bell Pottinger and Edelman, as his director of communications. The Telegraph reports:

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.[239]

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.'[240]

April 13th - Revealed: how Big Pharma funds trials for the drugs you are prescribed

Scotland: 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.[241]

Full article here.

April 29th - Former Tory MP Mercer resigns after Commons suspension

UK: 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.[242]

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."[243]

May 1st - Patrick Mercer made one of worst ever breaches of rules, watchdog finds

UK: 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".[244]

Full article here.

May 3rd - Tory cigarette packaging rebel Priti Patel is ex-tobacco lobbyist

UK: 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.[245]

Full article here.

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.

May 11th - MSPs warned over business links code

Two Holyrood cross-party groups are found to be in breach of the MSP code of conduct over their relationship with Jacquie Forde of the Wellbeing Alliance. MSPs warned over business links code, Sunday Herald, 11 May 2014

Scotland: 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.[246]

Full article here.

May 12th - Ministers 'reliant' on lobbyists

UK: 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.”[247]

Full article here.

May 18th - Tobacco industry funding fight against plain cigarette packaging / Urgent review as nearly half of health boards ignore pharma disclosure rule

UK / Scotland: 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.[248]

Full article here.

Scotland: 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."[249]

Full article here.

June 8th - Questions over the funding of miracle skin cancer 'cure'

UK: 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."[250]

Full article here.

June 15th - Patient groups taking cash from drug firms

Scotland: 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."[251]

Full article here.

July 2nd - David Cameron faces calls to publish guest list for lavish Tory summer dinner

UK: 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.[252]

Full article here.

The investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian revealed:

A representative of the little-known United and Cecil Club was present at the fundraiser. Since 2008, its members have donated £909,095 to the party through the club. Almost all these donations are made anonymously.[253]

Full article here.

September 6th - Conservative election guru Lynton Crosby lobbied minister over tobacco

UK: 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.[254]

Full article here.

September 11th - Cabinet Office names Alison White preferred candidate for lobbying registrar

UK: The Cabinet Office has named Alison White as its preferred candidate to oversee the introduction of a statutory register of lobbyists. White is a former head of the National Pharmacy Association.[255] Appearing before the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee for a pre-appointment hearing White said 'I will be listening carefully to what all stakeholders have to say… but I will not be unduly influenced by anybody' she told the committee. She added: 'I think it’s very important indeed that I’m not seen to have my tail being wagged by any kind of dog, whether or not it’s an industry dog or a government dog.'[256]

September 17th - Tories charge £2,500 a head for access to ministers at party conference

UK: 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.[257]

Full article here.

October 2nd - Civil service head received hospitality from Centrica and Goldman Sachs

UK: 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.[258]

Full article here.

October 11th - David Cameron’s election guru faces new attack over tobacco lobbying

UK: 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.”[259]

Full article here.

December 31st - Political lobbyist Stuart Polak from Borehamwood receives CBE in New Year Honours list

UK: From The Borehamwood Times:

A political lobbyist from Borehamwood has been awarded a CBE in the New Year Honours list.

Stuart Polak is a founding partner of TWC, a consultancy firm specialising in political strategy, and is also a director of the Conservative Friends of Israel.

He has been awarded a CBE for political service.[260]

Full article here.


January 5th - Tweets to count as lobbying under new rules

UK: Alison White, the new lobbying tsar, has issued guidance stating that tweets from lobbyists aimed directly at Government ministers or permanent secretaries are to be counted as lobbying under new rules. Following confusion of what constitutes 'oral or written communications' made personally to ministers and senior civil servants the new document put out by White states 'Oral and written communications include electronic communications such as email and social media where the minister or permanent secretary is addressed personally, during the period when they hold that office.'[261]

January 8th - Clegg brings in another lobbyist

UK: From Public Affairs News:

Nick Clegg has added another lobbyist to his team of special advisers with the hire of Ruwan Kodikara from Quiller Consultants.

Kodikara takes the role of head of media and brand for the Deputy Prime Minister in the run-up to the general election.

He will work alongside Stephen Lotinga, Clegg’s communications director who was previously managing director for of public affairs at Edelman. Lotinga also headed up Bell Pottinger’s public affairs team before moving to Whitehall.

Also occupying a senior role in Clegg’s team is former Bell Pottinger director Jonny Oates, now chief of staff to the deputy prime minister.[262]

Full article here.

January 15th - Israel lobbies foreign powers to cut ICC funding

World: Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that his government was lobbying member-states of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to cut their funding for the tribunal in response to its launch of an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories. Lieberman told Israel Radio: 'We will demand of our friends in Canada, in Australia and in Germany simply to stop funding it.' He added 'This body represents no one. It is a political body.'[263] Israel, like the United States, does not belong to the ICC.

January 26th - Lobbying tsar vows to launch register before election

UK: From The Guardian:

A register for lobbyists who contact ministers and senior civil servants will be introduced within the next 10 weeks, according to the government’s new lobbying tsar, in spite of criticism that it will be unfair and riddled with loopholes. Alison White, the registrar for consultant lobbyists, told the Guardian she was aware of protests from the industry and transparency campaigners but she would launch the register before parliament moves into election purdah on 30 March.[264]

Full article here.

February 22nd - Straw and Rifkind deny wrongdoing amid 'cash for access' claims

UK: Both Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind have denied any wrongdoing after being implicated in a fresh “cash for access". Both men were secretly filmed offering to use their positions as politicians on behalf of a fictitious Chinese company in return for payments of at least £5,000 per day. The Telegraph reports:

Mr Straw, one of Labour’s most senior figures, boasted that he operated “under the radar” to use his influence to change European Union rules on behalf of a commodity firm which pays him £60,000 a year. He has been suspended from Labour following the disclosures, described by the party as "disturbing".

Mr Straw claimed to have used “charm and menace” to convince the Ukrainian prime minister to change laws on behalf of the same firm.

Mr Straw also used his Commons office to conduct meetings about possible consultancy work — a potential breach of rules. And he suggested that his Commons researcher had worked on his private business matters, raising further questions.

Sir Malcolm, who oversees Britain’s intelligence agencies on behalf of Parliament, said he could arrange “useful access” to every British ambassador in the world because of his status.[265]

Full article here.

Note: On September 17 2015 the parliamentary standards watchdog found there had been “no breach of the rules on paid lobbying” by Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw, after an investigation into the cash-for-access allegations.[266]

February 24th - Lobbying register will have few applicants, registrar predicts

UK: Lobbying registrar Alison White admits she expects "quite a low level" of applicants when the register opens in March. White told the BBC that the new law had been "very narrowly drafted" and that her own views on it were "entirely irrelevant". Critics say the new lobbying register is not fit for purpose as it excludes many of those working as lobbyists.[267]

February 26th - MPs who lobby for money will need to register as lobbyists, registrar confirms

UK: Lobbying registrar Alison White has confirmed that MPs and peers who accept money to influence ministers will need to register as lobbyists. PR Week reports:

It follows Monday’s high-profile Dispatches programme on Channel 4 on 'cash for access', in which MPs Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind discussed the possibility of working as consultant lobbyists.

In response to the programme, the CIPR wrote to White asking to clarify whether MPs and members of the House of Lords who also undertook such work would need to register. Speaking to The Guardian, White confirmed that they would as long as they were paid to do so and were registered to pay VAT.

White told the newspaper: "Although the Lobbying Act is not specific on this point, my view is that serving MPs and members of the House of Lords in the context of their normal duties would not be required to register.

"But if they undertook activities outside their normal duties which might be defined by the act as consultant lobbying, and where other exemptions such as VAT registration did not apply, they would be required to register."[268]

Full article here.

March 5th - Industry lobbyists weakened Europe's air pollution rules, say Greenpeace / 300 staff working for peers and MPs have lobbying interests, analysis reveals

EU: A Greenpeace investigation has revealed that EU governments are allowing representatives of the energy industry to weaken European air pollution regulations. The investigation found that 183 of the 352 members of the technical working group are either employed by the companies that are being regulated, or by lobby groups that represent those companies. The Guardian reports:

Documents released to the group under the freedom of information act show that the companies helped to formulate Britain’s position, which was adopted and submitted to the European negotiations two years ago.

Five out of the UK’s nine-strong delegation in Brussels work for companies that are responsible for large-scale emissions, including coal power plant operators RWE, EDF and E.ON. The remaining members of the British delegation are civil servants.

The UK government maintains that industry representatives do not negotiate but the Guardian has learned that at key meetings in Brussels, they forcefully pushed for weaker pollution limits.

Officials from energy firms repeatedly complained about the cost of clean air improvements, and a perceived lack of analysis of the economic consequences. They also lobbied to eliminate measures such as ‘coal washing’ from consideration, which would have reduced emissions of ash and sulphur dioxide.

Other measures advanced by energy firms included weaker limits for nitrogen oxide emissions from gas plants, and using more polluting plants as the baseline for limits set under the new rules.[269]

Full article here.

UK: A Guardian investigation finds that almost one in five staff members employed by MPs and peers also have lobbying or outside interests. The Guardian reports:

There are currently 113 passholders in the House of Commons who declare outside interests to other bodies, while another 206 in the House of Lords have similar links, the analysis of parliamentary records shows.

Those in possession of parliamentary passes include a defence industry lobbyist who was once suspended from the Palace of Westminster and people with links to banks, gambling firms and low tax campaigners.

Of more than 300 staff working for parliamentarians in Westminster with outside interests, the Guardian has found that only a maximum of 11 are likely to be required to sign the lobby register when it is introduced at the end of next month – and only then if they meet a minister or a senior civil servant in the course of their activities.

The register has been set up to satisfy David Cameron’s pledge in 2010 to curb outside interests in parliament. The prime minister described lobbying as “the next big scandal waiting to happen”.

It aims to target up to 75 “third party lobbyists” – public affairs companies employed by clients. But data shows that there are dozens of other bodies including thinktanks, PR companies, campaign groups and charities with access to a parliamentary pass... Most of the staff with outside links do not see themselves as lobbyists.

But Tamasin Cave, a director of Spinwatch, which campaigns on lobbying transparency, said the figures showed that the lobbying bill, introduced last year, and the lobbying register, which will be introduced next month, should be scrapped. “If they fail to cover a majority of lobbyists who are allowed to wander into parliament at will, what on earth is the point?

“These figures show that the government has, either deliberately or through incompetence, blown a real chance to reform lobbying in parliament which allows vested interests to gain top level access to the levers of power. The lobbying registrar is producing a register which is utterly meaningless.”.[270]

Full article here.

March 11th - Fox-hunting lobbyists fronted by Otis Ferry target backing of Tory candidates in stealth campaign

UK: The pro-hunt lobby group Vote-OK has promised to provide canvassers to Conservative candidates if they agree to support repealing the fox-hunting ban. The Independent reports:

The push by Vote-OK, a lobby group set up to overturn the fox-hunting ban, comes after David Cameron promised last week to hold a parliamentary vote on repealing it if the Tories win the election.

“At Vote-OK we don’t want any more than [for] you to vote for us when the time comes and we can take your word for that,” Mr Ferry wrote to one candidate, in a letter seen by The Independent. “I look forward to campaigning on your behalf.

“Vote-OK would agree that the less said publicly the better, and so long as you can give us the assurance you will support a repeal of the act then Vote-OK would still love to help. You do not have to make your views public, but it would be a huge breach of trust if you were to change your mind and go back on your word”.

...The politicians who are believed to have accepted Vote-OK’s offer of services include Angie Bray, MP for Ealing Central and Acton, and Ben Howlett, Conservative candidate for Bath.[271]

Full article here.

March 12th - EU data protection manifesto at danger from lobbyists 'who favour big data over big data protection'

EU: From Computer World UK:

The new EU data protection manifesto is at danger from lobbying influences that favour big data over big data protection, a European Data Protection advisor warns.

The regulation to standardise data protection rules and crimes across the European Union is “perhaps the most lobbied” in the history of the European commission, Christopher Docksey said.

“There are some undesirable changes going on. They [several firms and EU member states] are favouring big data, rather than big data protection," he said.[272]

Full article here.

April 15th - Green groups accuse EU shale gas panel of fracking lobby takeover / Lobbyists threaten European democracy, anti-graft body says

EU: The Guardian reports:

Environmentalists have walked out of an influential EU shale gas group, which they say has been taken over by industry groups who are using it as a platform to promote fracking.

Advice from the expert panel on unconventional hydrocarbons is expected to inform the European commission’s future decisions on the exploration of shale gas in Europe, which the UK and Polish governments have strongly backed.

The panel is led by five chairmen; two executives from the shale firms Cuadrilla and ConocoPhillips, two officials from pro-shale ministries in UK and Poland, and a director of IFP Energies Nouvelles, who is also an advisor to the Shale Gas Europe lobby group.

These chairs oversee and approve the work of task forces drawn from an invite-only network. But less than 10 environmentalists were welcomed to the last meeting in February, compared to around 70 attendees who were largely from industry.

Friends of the Earth argues that the network’s ‘grey’ structure presents a clear conflict of interest for firms which hold patents in hydraulic fracturing technologies under discussion, and investments in the field more generally.[273]

Full article here.

EU: A report by the anti-corruption pressure group Transparency International warns that a lack of control over lobbyists threatens to undermine European democracies. From Reuters:

In a report assessing legal and other safeguards against opaque lobbying practices in 19 of the 28 European Union states and three EU institutions, it found only two countries -- ex-communist Slovenia and Lithuania -- had even half the level of protection Transparency thought necessary to protect against "undue influence" by vested interests.

Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal all scored less than 25 percent on the group's measure. Hungary and Cyprus trailed in lowest at just 14 percent each.

The EU's own executive, the European Commission, also passed the 50 percent mark. But the European Parliament and Council of the European Union fell short, the former at 37 percent and the latter at just 19 percent.

Among Transparency International's concerns were lack of public documentation of who is lobbying whom, with what resources and for what purpose. Others included failure to control the "revolving door" of staff moving between government institutions and private enterprises.[274]

Full article here.

April 27th - Shell lobbied to undermine EU renewables targets, documents reveal


Shell actively and successfully lobbied to undermine European renewable energy targets ahead of a key agreement on emissions cuts reached in October last year, recently released documents reveal. Documents released under freedom of information laws to The Guardian show that Shell began lobbying the then European commission president José Manuel Barroso to scrap the bloc’s existing formula of linking carbon-cutting goals with binding renewable energy laws. The Guardian reports:

“Shell believes the EU should focus on reduction of greenhouse gases as the unique climate objective after 2020, and allow the market to identify the most cost efficient way to deliver this target, thus preserving competitiveness of industry, protecting employment and consumer buying power, to drive economic growth,” he wrote, adding in a hand-written note at the end, “This is a great opportunity for the EU to seize!”

Shell is the sixth biggest lobbyist in Brussels, spending between €4.25-4.5m a year lobbying the EU institutions, according to the bloc’s transparency register.

Participants in the 2030 negotiations confirm that Shell was the first lobbyist to push for a single target in Brussels, and its heft gave the idea momentum. “Shell has a lot of clout in the UK, where they are very active in the policy debate,” a source close to the lobbying discussions said. “That is partly because the UK likes to have companies saying what the UK government wants to hear.”[275]

Full article here.

April 28th - Shell and BP alone eclipse renewable energy sector on access to ministers

UK: The Guardian reports:

Fossil fuel companies enjoy far greater access to UK government ministers than renewable energy companies or climate campaigns, an analysis by the Guardian has revealed.

Shell, the fossil fuel multi-national, has had at least 112 meetings with ministers since the last general election, and its rival, BP, at least 79 meetings. But this outweighs the number of meetings that ministers granted to renewable energy companies.

Twenty-three leading companies and two trade organisations in the renewable sector were given a combined total of 119 meetings with ministers over the same period.

The analysis found at least 230 meetings with Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, Total, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and the trade organisation Oil & Gas UK during the same time.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP in the last parliament, criticised the coalition for giving priority to the fossil fuel giants. “Time and again the government has shown itself to be woefully ignorant and dismissive of the potential of renewables, with policies riddled with contradiction,” she said. “Perhaps if its ministers spent a little more time with the country’s leading scientists and renewables experts, rather than nestled in the pockets of fossil-fuel companies, they’d be a little more enlightened.”[276]

Full article here.

May 13th - Prince Charles's 'black spider memos' show lobbying at highest political level


Following a 10-year legal battle, a cache of secret memos between Prince Charles and senior government ministers has been released. The documents show that Charles lobbied the government of Tony Blair on a number of issues. The Guardian reports:

The 27 memos, sent in 2004 and 2005 and released only after the Guardian won its long freedom of information fight with the government, show the Prince of Wales making direct and persistent policy demands to the then prime minister Tony Blair and several key figures in his Labour government. From Blair, Charles demanded everything from urgent action to improve equipment for troops fighting in Iraq to the availability of alternative herbal medicines in the UK, a pet cause of the prince.

The government spent more than £400,000 in legal costs in attempting to block the 2005 freedom of information request by Guardian journalist Rob Evans.[277]

Full article here.

May 31st - Minister worked as spin doctor for tobacco giant that paid workers £15 a month

UK: The Guardian reports:

The employment minister, Priti Patel, was part of a team of spin doctors paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to help a tobacco giant counter negative publicity, including that surrounding its joint venture with one of the world’s most brutal military regimes.

Documents unearthed by the Observer shine new light on Patel’s work for Shandwick, a lobbying and PR firm that worked for British American Tobacco (BAT) in the early years of this century.

The documents, released by BAT following a legal action, show that Patel was one of seven employees used by Shandwick on the account. One of her jobs was to lobby MEPs against the introduction of the EU tobacco control directive, which was introduced shortly after the new millennium. She was charged with ensuring that a letter from the BAT chairman at the time, Martin Broughton, outlining his objection to the directive, was faxed to every MEP.

But internal BAT documents show that in addition to her work lobbying MEPs, Patel’s team played a key role in fashioning the company’s public profile. In a memo dated 14 December 2000, a senior executive within the company, Andreas Vecchiet, conducted an annual appraisal of the Shandwick team’s performance. “We have mainly used Shandwick for project-based work relating to the WHO [World Health Organisation] campaign, NGO monitoring … reputation issues relating to Burma, and some limited advice relating to Nigeria and labour standards.”

BAT’s position in Burma at the turn of the millennium was hugely controversial. “BAT’s factory in Burma was jointly owned with the military dictatorship and so helped fund one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world,” said Anna Roberts, executive director at Burma Campaign UK. “BAT refused to admit how much money it gave to the dictatorship, but Burma Campaign UK estimated that BAT paid the generals $16m (£10m) in taxes alone between 1999 and 2002. In contrast, BAT paid its factory workers in Burma just £15 a month. The dictatorship spent 40% of its budget on the military.”

Following widespread public outrage, BAT pulled out of Burma in 2003.[278]

Full article here.

June 9th - Secretive donors gave US climate denial groups $125m over three years

USA: Around $125m (£82m) has been given to US climate change denial groups over three years according to an analysis of tax records. The Guardian reports:

The secretive funders behind America’s conservative movement directed around $125m (£82m) over three years to groups spreading disinformation about climate science and committed to wrecking Barack Obama’s climate change plan, according to an analysis of tax records.

The amount is close to half of the anonymous funding disbursed to rightwing groups, underlining the importance of the climate issue to US conservatives.

The anonymous cash flow came from two secretive organisations – the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund – that have been called the “Dark Money ATM” of the conservative movement.

The funds, which when channelled through the two organisations cannot be traced to individual donors, helped build a network of thinktanks and activist groups. These worked to defeat climate bills in Congress and are mobilising against Environmental Protection Agency rules to reduce carbon pollution from power plants which are due to be finalised this summer. In many cases, the anonymous cash makes up the vast majority of funding received by beneficiaries – more than comes openly from the fossil fuel industry.[279]

Full article here.

July 16th - Margaret Thatcher's lobbying of Saudi royals over arms deal revealed

UK: The Guardian reports on newly released documents that highlight the extent to which Margaret Thatcher lobbied the Saudi royal family to secure British arms deals:

They show how anxious British ministers and diplomats pursued the Saudis to buy Tornado and Hawk aircraft in what became a £43bn deal known as al-Yamamah (Arabic for dove). Many documents have been withheld and passages removed to suppress embarrassing disclosures.

One document refers to a meeting between British officials and Prince Sultan, the Saudi defence minister, in September 1985. It reads: “At the meeting, the prince indicated that, particularly in view of our willingness … [passage deleted] … there might be further UK orders in connection with construction work …”

A number of pages have been removed after a document refers to “offset” arrangements and “payment methods”. The papers refer to a press report that £600m backhanders were passed to arms dealers known as the four cavaliers.

The Yamamah deal became mired in a long-running controversy over allegations that BAE, Britain’s biggest arms dealer, made huge illicit payments to Saudi royals to land the contract. In 2006, Tony Blair’s government abruptly halted a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the allegations following pressure from the Saudis and the firm. In 2010, BAE agreed to pay almost £300m in penalties, to settle an investigation by US and UK authorities into alleged corruption in its deals with the Saudis and other countries.[280]

Full article here.

September 17th - Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw cleared of cash-for-access misconduct

UK: From The Guardian:

The parliamentary standards watchdog has found “no breach of the rules on paid lobbying” by two former foreign secretaries, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw, after an investigation into cash-for-access allegations.

Both denied wrongdoing and referred themselves to the parliamentary standards commissioner following a sting by undercover reporters working for the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches.

Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, found that neither was in breach of the code of conduct or the rules of the house “other than in Mr Straw’s case by a minor misuse of parliamentary resources”.

She said: “The use of carefully selected excerpts from the recordings does not necessarily give the viewer a detailed understanding of the circumstances and the full evidence behind the interviews. This may result in the viewer being led to conclusions which do not stand up to detailed scrutiny.”

The Commons standards committee, made up of MPs and lay members, was more critical of the media investigation and coverage. Its report said it was “very concerned that the matter should have been reported in this fashion”.

It added: “By selection and omission, the coverage distorted the truth and misled the public as to what had actually taken place. The commissioner rightly draws attention to the continuing debate around MPs’ external interests, and notes some of the complexities involved.

“This is a legitimate subject for media scrutiny, but it places a responsibility on the media to ensure fair and accurate reporting. The debate about what MPs should or should not do is not assisted by the conduct of the reporters in this case.” [266]

Full article here.

After the findings The Telegraph reported that some MPs on the committee which cleared Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind had expressed serious misgivings about the Parliamentary system which had exonerated them of any wrong-doing. The Telegraph reports:

But, it can now be revealed that other members of his committee privately harbour concerns about the code of conduct for MPs being too weak - and the system which allows MPs to sit as judge and jury on the conduct of fellow Parliamentarians. In America, any employee of the federal government, including politicians, is banned from sitting on the Office of Congressional Government.

One member told the Daily Telegraph: "It is probably true that they [Straw and Rifkind] did not break the rules – and therefore we have got a problem with the rules."

The member also recounted how there was no proper discussion over the conduct of Straw and Rifkind by the committee. The member alleged that Mr Barron simply held up the report during a meeting and asked for approval for it to be "passed". The other members sat in silence and he took this as approval.

In her own report Mrs Hudson also suggests that the "broad brush" rules are not adequate.[281]

The Telegraph continued:

Martin Bell, the former independent MP and anti-sleaze campaigner, said: “Obviously the system is flawed. We’ve seen over and over again that the House of Commons is incapable of regulating itself. But it won’t accept an outside regulator. There should be an independent system of regulation.” Asked if Parliament should bring in a US-style ethics committee, Mr Bell said: “Yes, I believe it should.”[281]

Full article here.

September 21st - Lobbying register covers fewer than one in 20 lobbyists – report / BP tops the list of firms obstructing climate action in Europe

UK: A report by Transparency International has found that fewer than one in 20 lobbyists are covered by the government’s new lobbying register. The Guardian reports:

The anti-corruption NGO Transparency International says that although it identified 2,735 lobbyists who met MPs in a single three-month period, only 96 professional lobbying firms are listed on the government’s register of consultant lobbyists.

Between April and June 2014, HSBC, BT, Barclays, BAE Systems, BP, Shell, AstraZeneca and Rolls-Royce individually met government ministers between 12 and 22 times, according to the report.

“The UK’s current lobbyist register and records of lobbying meetings provide us with very little useful information with which to hold lobbyists to account,” the Accountable Influence report states. “Lobbying scandals happen in the UK at an alarming rate, and appear to keep on happening unabated.”

The report found lobbying was overwhelmingly dominated by corporate interests – eight out of 10 of the private organisations that most frequently met MPs were FTSE 100 companies. And there was little to prevent “revolving door” appointments, whereby public officials are hired by private companies eager to take advantage of knowledge obtained inside government.[282]

Full article here.

UK: The Guardian reports:

BP is Europe’s fiercest corporate opponent of action on climate change, according to a ranking of companies by their efforts to obstruct carbon-cutting initiatives.

Nearly half of the world’s top 100 global companies are trying to subvert climate policies by lobbying, advertising, and influence-peddling, said the UK-based non-profit, Influence Map.

But while all the major fossil fuel firms rank close to the bottom of the group’s table, BP emerges as Europe’s strongest advocate of dirty energy, opposing even mild measures to raise carbon trading prices.

“BP has been consistently opposed to all the main forms of climate change regulation,” said Thomas O’Neill, Influence Map’s research director. “There is very little positivity coming out of them and they are a board member of several obstructionist trade associations, some of which give a very dubious account of climate science.”

The new rankings used a methodology developed by the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists to measure corporate positions on climate legislation against criteria such as transparency, company performance and lobby interventions.

Google and Unilever were judged the best performing global businesses – both taking a ‘B’ rating – while Koch Industries, Phillips 66, Reliance Industries and Duke Energy footed the table, receiving ‘F’ grades.

Altogether, 45% of the top 100 global brands were found to be blocking moves to a low carbon economy.[283]

Full article here.

September 25th - Power of Brussels car lobby revealed

EU: Greenpeace report:

Manufacturers of so-called low emission diesel vehicles spent as much as €18.5 million lobbying the European Union last year, a Greenpeace investigation has found.

The analysis, based on data from the European Union’s transparency register, also reveals that Volkswagen spent €3.3 million and employed 48 staff as part of its lobbying operation, more than any other low emission diesel car manufacturer.

Diesel vehicles represent a huge proportion of sales for car companies. According to Exane BNP Paribas, VW is the largest manufacturer of diesel cars in the world. For BMW and Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, diesel represents 81% and 71% of European sales respectively.

The findings demonstrate the extent of the car lobby’s power in Brussels and follow revelations that both the German government and the European Commission were aware of “defeat devices” – the industry name for the software that allowed VW to cheat emissions tests.

It was also reported earlier this week, that Britain, Germany and France lobbied the European Commission to retain loopholes in emissions tests.

Greenpeace can further reveal that diesel car manufacturers, and industry associations of which they are members, employed 184 lobbyists in 2014, including 51 who were granted passes giving them access to European Parliament premises.[284]

Full report here.

September 30th - Ex-MPs banned from lobbying after 'cash for access' scandal

UK: Former MPs will be banned from working as paid lobbyists for six months after Parliament tightens rules following the latest cash-for-access scandal involving Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind. The Telegraph reports:

Changes to the members’ code of conduct, which included the introduction of restrictions on former MPs, were approved a month after the scandal emerged but went unreported. The revised code states: “Former members must abide by the restrictions of the lobbying rules for six months after their departure from the House in respect of any approach they make to ministers, other members or public officials. Former members may not use their privileged parliamentary pass for the purposes of lobbying on the parliamentary estate.”[285]

Full article here.

December 9th - Osborne criticised over Treasury job for former bank lobbyist

UK: The Guardian reports:

George Osborne has been accused of making a “highly politicised” appointment to the civil service after he gave a Conservative former lobbyist for banks and energy companies a job advising on the tax system.

Angela Knight, a former Tory MP who was chief executive of the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) and then Energy UK, will chair the Office of Tax Simplification after spending years as chief defender of the City and the “big six” power firms.

In her new role, she has been charged with helping the Treasury “create a tax system that delivers for British businesses and people” by proposing areas for review and recommending changes to ministers.

While working for the BBA, Knight launched a stinging attack on the 50% tax on bankers’ bonuses in 2009 as “populist, political and penal”. She subsequently campaigned against additional taxes on banks in the aftermath of the crash, warning that this could threaten the UK’s future as a financial centre.

Knight was also in charge of the BBA at the time of the Libor rate-rigging scandal. The trade body was responsible for overseeing the interbank borrowing rate which was manipulated by some bankers.

During her time in charge of Energy UK, she then defended the big energy companies against allegations by MPs that some were paying little or no tax in the UK.

A Treasury spokesman said Knight had been “appointed in line with the principles of the commissioner for public appointments’ code of practice.” The appointment will also be scrutinised by the Commons Treasury select committee.

However, the move was criticised by Labour, who said the chancellor must set out whether there was independent scrutiny of the process, whether civil servants raised any concerns about her recruitment, and the details of her contract.

Richard Burgon, the shadow Treasury minister, said: “Angela Knight has made a career out of defending the indefensible, be it bankers being paid eye-watering bonuses, energy companies charging customers scandalous prices and maybe worst of all John Major’s government. There are questions to be asked of the chancellor over such a highly politicised appointment.”

Tax expert Richard Murphy said it was a worrying sign for a political appointment to be made to what should be a neutral office.

“Angela Knight is the wrong person to lead the Office of Tax Simplification,” he said. “She was far too closely associated with the UK banks during their tax-dodging era and she is far too politically aligned for anyone to believe she can bring a balanced approach to this office, whose work must be seen to be politically impartial.”[286]

Full article here.

December 15th - Revealed: how Google enlisted members of US Congress it bankrolled to fight $6bn EU antitrust case

UK: A Guardian report has revealed the extent of Google's lobbying campaign which aims to put pressure on the European Union to drop a €6bn antitrust case which threatens the US tech firms business activities in Europe. Google enlisted members of the US congress, whose election campaigns it had funded, to help lobby against the case. The Guardian report also discovered:

• Google’s co-founder and CEO Larry Page met the then European commission chief privately in California in spring 2014 and raised the antitrust case despite being warned by EU officials that it would be inappropriate to do so.

• Officials and lawmakers in Brussels say they have witnessed a significant expansion of Google lobbying efforts over the past 18 months as the company faces increased scrutiny of its business activities in Europe.

• Google has employed several former EU officials as in-house lobbyists, and has funded European thinktanks and university research favourable to its position as part of its broader campaign.

Capitol Hill’s aggressive intervention in Brussels came as the European parliament prepared to vote through a resolution in November 2014 that called on EU policymakers to consider breaking up Google’s online business into separate companies.

Republican and Democratic senators and congressmen, many of whom have received significant campaign donations from Google totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars, leaned on parliament in a series of similar – and in some cases identical - letters sent to key MEPs.[287]

Full article here.


January 20th - Tories paid Lynton Crosby firm £2.4m for election campaign work

UK: The Guardian reports:

The Conservatives paid £2.4m to a lobbying firm co-owned by Sir Lynton Crosby, David Cameron’s campaign strategist, in the run-up to the general election, according to new Electoral Commission data.

The latest campaign spending figures reveal for the first time the full value of the party’s relationship with CTF Partners, the company co-founded by the Australian who is widely credited with engineering the Tories’ victory at the ballot box last year.

Crosby came under fire last month after the prime minister awarded him a knighthood, a move that prompted accusations the government has turned the honours systems into an “old boys’ club”.

Responding to the spending figures, the Labour MP Jess Phillips said the Tories had “lavished millions on their election campaign, including with Lynton Crosby’s firm, and he has since been richly rewarded with a knighthood”. [288]

Full article here.

February 17th - Coal Industry Ignores Transparency Rules to Lobby the European Commission

EU: From DeSmog UK:

A complaint is being investigated by the European Commission’s lobby register secretariat into its failure to implement its transparency rules after an industry lobby group organised a meeting between the World Coal Association (WCA) and a Commission member last February.

The complaint was filed by transparency research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO). As the group explains, new transparency rules state that members of the Commission should not meet with any unregistered lobbyists. To this day the WCA has not registered its activities with the EU transparency register.

The meeting between the WCA and the Commission was organised by lobby consultancy firm Hume Brophy, one of Brussels’ biggest lobby groups. Among its more controversial clients are Monsanto and U.S. coal giant Peabody Energy.[289]

Full article here.

March 9th - Matthew Hancock: Conflict of interest claims over Tory minister’s £4,000 gift

UK: The Independent reports:

David Cameron has been asked to investigate whether a senior Conservative broke the ministerial code by accepting a £4,000 donation from a think tank chairman shortly before implementing one of the group’s key policy proposals. Labour has demanded an inquiry into whether Matthew Hancock, the Cabinet Office Minister, faced a possible conflict of interest over the gift from Neil Record, who chairs the right-wing Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). The Independent disclosed last month that the donation was made four months before Mr Hancock announced a controversial ban on charities using grants from public funds to lobby ministers, MPs, civil servants and political parties.[290]

Full article here.

March 14th - BP doubles EU lobby spend, drops Tate sponsorship

UK/EU: The Ecologist reports:

Oil giant BP is the UK's single biggest EU lobbyist, spending over £2 million reaching out to European policy makers in 2014, new figures show. But citing hard times, the company has dropped its controversial sponsorship of the London's Tate Galleries - and more such branding deals may bite the dust.

Energy giant BP is the UK's single biggest corporate lobbyist in Europe, new analysis by Lobby Facts reveals.

BP spent between £2.23 million and £2.3 million (€ 2.75m - € 2.99m) in lobbying European policy makers on energy and climate issues in 2014, the most recent figures available.

This represents a substantial increase, almost doubling BP's declared lobby spend for the previous year, when it spent up to £1.16m (€ 1.5m).

The analysis by Lobby Facts - a joint initiative by transparency watchdogs Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl - is based on a 'cleaning up' of the EU's voluntary Transparency Register for inaccurate or misleading lobby-spend entries.

According to estimates by Transparency International, about half of the data on the EU's register is flawed.

The data also shows that in the past year leading up to the Paris COP21 climate conference, BP held 24 meetings with senior European Commission members, including nine with Miguel Arias Cañete, climate and energy commissioner, or members of his team.

This is significantly more than any of the other 15 top UK-based corporations lobbying Brussels according to Lobby Facts' data.[291]

Full article here.

April 10th - Revealed: the loophole that lets lobbying companies keep their clients a secret

UK: The Independent reveals that lobbying companies are exploiting loopholes in UK transparency legislation allowing them to avoid declaring clients who pay them to influence Whitehall policy. Included among the companies are CTF Partners which is run by Lynton Crosby and RLM Finsbury, run by Roland Rudd.

The Independent reports:

Overall, a quarter of known UK lobbyists do not declare any clients on the register and 60 per cent of the 124 registered lobbying firms declare two or fewer clients. Thirty-four declare no clients; 21 declare one client; 19 declare two clients.

The disclosures cast further doubts over the effectiveness of the Government’s lobbying legislation that was brought in following a string of scandals.

Under the legislation’s narrow definition of what constitutes lobbying, lobbyists-for-hire only have to declare a client on the register if they directly contact a minister or permanent secretary on behalf of a client. Lobbying of anyone else in government is exempt, as is all lobbying by corporations and their trade bodies, such as those opposing the sugar tax including the British Soft Drinks Association and the Food and Drink Federation.

These trade organisations could be lobbying on behalf of a specific client but there would not necessarily be any obligation to declare this information on the register.[292]

Full article here.

April 20th - EU dropped climate policies after BP threat of oil industry 'exodus' / Saudi Arabia has paid for nearly a dozen Tory MPs to fly out and visit on 'fact-finding missions' this year

EU: The Guardian reports:

The EU abandoned or weakened key proposals for new environmental protections after receiving a letter from a top BP executive which warned of an exodus of the oil industry from Europe if the proposals went ahead.

In the 10-page letter, the company predicted in 2013 that a mass industry flight would result if laws to regulate tar sands, cut power plant pollution and accelerate the uptake of renewable energy were passed, because of the extra costs and red tape they allegedly entailed.

The measures “threaten to drive energy-intensive industries, such as refining and petrochemicals, to relocate outside the EU with a correspondingly detrimental impact on security of supply, jobs [and] growth,” said the letter, which was obtained by the Guardian under access to documents laws.

The missive to the EU’s energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger, was dated 9 August 2013, partly hand-written, and signed by a senior BP representative whose name has been redacted.[293]

Full article here.

UK: The Independent reports:

The Saudi Arabian government has paid for nearly a dozen Conservative MPs to fly out to visit the country this year so far, official records reveal.

The latest version of MPs’ register of interests show 11 MPs have registered “parliamentary fact-finding” visits paid for by the Saudi Arabian ministry of Foreign Affairs.

All the MPs to accept the trips and to so far register them are Conservatives. One, Sir Alan Duncan, is the chair of the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee.

The gifts mark an intensification of the autocratic petro-state’s lobbying efforts in Britain amid increasing criticism of both its domestic human rights record and alleged war crimes.

The trips, which included hotel accommodation and flights, are each worth between around £1,500 and £3,700, according to the register of interests.

They come amid accusations by the United Nations and international charities that Saudi Arabia is committing war crimes in its bombing campaign in Yemen.[294]

Full article here.

June 4th - Google: new concerns raised about political influence by senior ‘revolving door’ jobs

EU: Research by the Campaign for Accountability (CfA) raises fresh concerns about the political influence of Google. The study (Google Transparency Project) discovered 80 'revolving door' appointments were made in the past decade by the tech giant.

The Guardian reports:

In the UK, Google has hired people from Downing Street, the Home Office, the Treasury, the Department for Education and the Department for Transport. Overall, the company has hired at least 28 British public officials since 2005.

Those hired have included Sarah Hunter, a senior policy adviser to Tony Blair when prime minister, who became head of public policy for Google in the UK. Hunter is now head of policy for Google X, the arm that deals with new businesses such as drones and self-driving cars.

In 2013 Google hired Verity Harding, a special adviser to former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. Harding is now policy manager for Google DeepMind, its artificial intelligence arm, which recently secured a contract with the NHS.

Overall, the research suggests that Google, now part of parent company Alphabet Inc, has hired at least 65 former government officials from within the European Union since 2005. These include Tomas Gulbinas, a former ambassador-at-large for the Lithuanian government, and Georgios Mavros, a former adviser to a French member of the European parliament: both became Google lobbyists.

During the same period, 15 Google employees were appointed to government positions in Europe, gaining what the CfA claims are “valuable contacts at the heart of the decision-making process”.[295]

Full article here.

June 9th - EU energy chiefs favouring fossil fuel lobbyists, says report

EU: From Climate Home:

The Paris climate agreement signals a global transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Yet since adopting the deal, senior EU officials have continued to favour traditional energy majors with their time, according to analysis from Corporate Observatory Europe (CEO).

Commissioners Miguel Arias Canete and Maros Sefcovic had six times as many encounters with fossil fuel interests as renewables or energy efficiency advocates, meeting records show.

That is skewing policy towards a dependence on high carbon infrastructure, CEO campaigner Pascoe Sabido told Climate Home.

“After Paris, we were supposed to be seeing a shift,” he said. “If you look at the policies, it is not particularly reassuring to see those who are going to be the most influential are the same companies that have been aggressively lobbying against renewables and ambitious climate targets.”[296]

Full article here.

July 13th - An Assembly Member claims lobbyists are selling access to decision makers in the Welsh Government

Wales: From WalesOnline:

A Plaid Cymru AM has alleged in the Senedd that the Cardiff-based public affairs company Deryn is “selling access and information to the highest bidder”.

Neil McEvoy is calling for a register of lobbyists.

Addressing Carwyn Jones during First Minister’s Questions, Neil McEvoy said: “Your Government has made sure Wales has the weakest protection in the UK against commercial lobbying: there is no register.

“The last Presiding Officer said that we don’t have the same problems as Westminster.

“But from what I can see companies like Deryn that are selling access and information to the highest bidder seem to be everywhere in this Assembly.

“I wasn’t even allowed to submit a question about cash for access to Welsh ministers.

“Clearly you do not believe in open government or we’d have a register, we’d have regulations. What are you hiding, First Minister?”

Mr Jones responded: “Nothing. Commercial lobbyists don’t have access to Welsh ministers.”[297]

Full article here.

July 15th - Matt Ridley accused of lobbying UK government on behalf of coal industry

UK: The Guardian reports:

An influential Conservative member of the House of Lords has been accused of lobbying the government for the benefit of the coal industry, despite previously saying he does not argue for the industry’s interests.

Viscount Matt Ridley, a journalist and businessman, benefits financially from coalmines on his estate and has used his column in the Times newspaper to downplay the seriousness of climate change.

The former chairman of Northern Rock wrote to energy minister Lord Bourne in April to tell him about a Texas-based company with “fascinating new technology, which may well interest the Department of Energy and Climate Change”.

The email, released after a freedom of information request, tells Bourne the company’s technology: “represents a PROFITABLE [sic] use for CO2 emissions from power stations, by turning them into cheap chemical feedstocks with a new process.” The company, said Ridley, is “interested in talking to the British government”.

“I have no vested interest in this, except perhaps a faint hope that it might give Northumbrian coalmining jobs a new lease of life,” he told Bourne.

Ridley receives payments from opencast coalmines operating on his ancestral estate in Northumberland, though he declines to say how much. In 2014, he said: “I deliberately do not argue directly for the interests of the modern coal industry and I consistently champion the development of gas reserves. So I consistently argue against my own financial interest.”

Friends of the Earth (FoE) campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “We think it’s worrying that climate sceptic Viscount Ridley should be using his privileged position in the Lords to argue against renewable energy, whilst lobbying to benefit a coal industry he has a significant financial interest in.[298]

Full article here.

July 16th - Corporate lobbyist signed up to lead the fight for fairer Britain

UK: Theresa May appoints financial lobbyist John Godfrey to head the Downing Street Policy Unit.[299] Godfrey is the Corporate Affairs Director at Legal & General having previously worked for WestLB International, Lehman Brothers and Daiwa Capital Markets.[300]

July 19th - Advisory Committee on Business Appointments publishes annual report

Advisory Committee on Business Appointments publishes annual report. The full report can be viewed here.

UK: The independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments publishes its annual report for 2015-16. The report records advice that the Committee gave on outside appointments which were taken up in 2015-16 by former Ministers and senior Crown servants under the Government’s Business Appointments Rules.

In the accompanying letter to the report Baroness Browning states:

As I said at my pre-appointment scrutiny hearing before the (then) Public Administration Select Committee and my more recent appearance before its successor, we will not hesitate to pass on our observations to Government where appropriate on how the rules could be implemented more effectively, based on our experience of dealing with cases.

This is why I wrote to the Minister for the Cabinet Office in November recommending that the definition of lobbying contained in the rules is amended to capture the spirit of the rules and the principles they are designed to uphold more comprehensively, and that in future the full text of the rules is annexed to the Ministerial Code. It is disappointing that I have yet to receive a response to my letter.

At the same time, where the Committee identifies trends emerging during the course of its work we will respond to them as we deal with the related casework. The most significant trend we saw during the reporting period was the apparently increasing tendency for individuals to seek to take up appointments in business or other sectors with which they have had dealings while in public office.[301]

Full report can be viewed here.

August 23rd - PRCA goes to parliamentary watchdog with concerns over MP's lobbyist link

UK: The PRCA has approached the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to express concerns about Labour MP Carolyn Harris for granting Lawrence Bailey of Whiterock Consulting a parliamentary pass.

PR Week reports:

Bailey appears on the MPs’ Register of Staff, but told Guido Fawkes: "Just to clarify, I am not an employee or member of Carolyn’s staff. I am a self-employed sole trader. My firm, Whiterock Consulting, is retained by Carolyn Harris MP. We provide 5+ days a month support." He added: "Clearly I work for Carolyn but not as a member of her parliamentary/constituency staff."

The PRCA’s director general Francis Ingham then penned a letter, posted yesterday on the organisation's website, to express his concerns. "I would like to remind you of your obligations to behave ethically as this story undermines the reputation of the lobbying industry and the integrity of MPs," he wrote.

The PRCA’s own code of conduct prohibits its public affairs members from holding a pass because "there is a clear conflict of interest". Ingham said Bailey "should have never entertained the idea of a parliamentary pass and as an MP you [Harris] should have never employed a lobbyist and given him a pass".[302]

Full article here.

August 25th - William Hague gets '£250,000 Brexit bonus' advising US consultancy firm

The Mirror reports:

Millionaire Tory William Hague is cashing in on Brexit through a mega-bucks job with a US consultancy.

Lord Hague, the former Foreign Secretary who campaigned to keep Britain in Europe, is now working part-time for Teneo’s ‘Brexit client transition unit’ on an estimated £250,000-a-year.

The unit promises to ensure the concerns of Teneo’s clients — including HSBC, Coca-Cola and Nissan — are “heard” by government.

It will also help big firms analyse the “potential business impact of Brexit ” and “define their strategies relating to organisational change.”[303]

Full article here.

August 31st - Lobbyists line up for Tory spad jobs

UK: From Public Affairs News:

At least nine former lobbying agency staffers are among the new breed of Conservative special advisers, Public Affairs News has established.

As Theresa May and her ministers put the final touches to their teams, two ex-employees of Portland have jobs in Number 10.

Tim Smith moves across from the Department for Transport where he recently served as a special adviser to then secretary of state Patrick McLoughlin. He previously spent around two years at Portland. Also taking a top job in May’s team is Nick Hargrave, a former speechwriter to David Cameron who also previously worked for Portland.

The new appointments sit uneasily alongside recent bogus accusations that Portland is a Blairite lobbying agency that orchestrated the so-called ‘coup’ against Jeremy Corbyn.

Asked about the moves, Portland managing partner Steve Morris said: “Nick and Tim are both very talented, so these are great appointments and it’s always good to see Portland alumni doing so well.”

Another former Portland consultant, Jessica Seldon, also works in Number 10 as a senior press officer.

The trio will work with two other former agency operatives in May’s new-look Number 10.

The prime minister’s joint chief of staff is Fiona Hill, who recently left Mike Craven's lobbying firm Lexington Communications to take up the new job. May has also appointed former Bell Pottinger consultant Jimmy McLoughlin as a special adviser in Number 10. He most recently worked at the Institute of Directors and is son of the current Tory chairman.

Outside of Number 10, another former Bell Pottinger man is the special adviser to the new Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire. Jonathan Caine remains in the job having previously worked for both Theresa Villiers and Owen Paterson in the same department.

New transport secretary Chris Grayling has snared the highly-rated Emma Boon as his special adviser. Boon worked for top financial lobbying firm Brunswick before becoming a special adviser in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2015.

New chancellor Philip Hammond has kept hold of his special adviser Graham Hook. Before becoming special adviser to Hammond in 2012, Hook spent two years at lobbying firm Interel Consulting.

New communities secretary Sajid Javid has also retained his special adviser Nick King as he settles into the new job. King is a former senior consultant at the lobbying firms Hanover Communications and Heathcroft Communications.

And defence secretary Michael Fallon is sticking with his special adviser James Wild as he stays in the same post. Wild spent three years at Hanover before joining Fallon’s entourage in 2012.[304]

September 1st - The Tories are selling lobbyists lunch with Theresa May for £3,150

UK: The Conservative Party is selling access to Theresa May to corporate executives and lobbyists at their party conference this autumn. For £3,150 business leaders and lobbyists can have a 'question and answers' sessions with Theresa May and other ministers. The £3,150 fee is a substantial increase over similar 'meet and greet' sessions held at previous party conferences.[305]

September 29th - Lobbyists register to be mandatory for all EU institutions

EU: From EUbusiness.com:

The European Commission proposed Wednesday that its 'Transparency Register' evolve into a mandatory system covering all EU institutions - European Parliament, Council and Commission.

While the EU executive has for a while made meetings with its decision-makers conditional on interest representatives being publicly listed in a Transparency Register, registration has been voluntary.

The proposal would make being on the Register mandatory for any interest representatives trying to influence policy-making in Brussels.

"Citizens have the right to know who tries to influence EU law-making", said EC First Vice-President Frans Timmermans. "The EU institutions need to work together to win back the trust of our citizens. We must be more open in everything we do."[306]

Full article here.

October 8th - Sir Spin cashes in on Brexit: Cameron press chief Sir Craig Oliver's new job is at a lobby firm advising on leaving the EU

UK: From the Daily Mail:

The spin chief who led David Cameron’s Remain campaign is cashing in on his failure with a lucrative job at a company advising firms on Brexit.

Sir Craig Oliver will be paid a six-figure salary as an adviser at global consultancy Teneo.

The US-based firm has set up a ‘Brexit client transition unit’ to advise companies on how to influence the Government’s plans to leave the EU.

But the prospect of one of the men who lost the referendum advising pro-EU firms on making the best of Brexit will raise fears of a conflict of interest.

Among Teneo’s clients is Nissan, the Japanese car manufacturer that has threatened to close its Sunderland plant if the UK does not retain access to the European single market.

Another client, HSBC, said during the referendum campaign that it would consider moving its headquarters from London if Britain left the EU.

Sir Craig, nicknamed ‘Sir Spin’, was Mr Cameron’s communications director. He left No 10 in July when Theresa May took office, and he was handed a knighthood in Mr Cameron’s controversial resignation honours.

His application to work for Teneo has apparently not yet been approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA).[307]

Full article here.

October 11th - Ex-minister Francis Maude takes Brexit advisory job at law firm

UK: The Guardian reports:

The former cabinet minister Francis Maude has taken a job advising an international law firm on Britain’s exit from the EU, six months after standing down from government.

Lord Maude, who until April was a trade and investment minister, has joined Covington and Burling LLP as a senior adviser in its government affairs practice.

Law firms and the finance industry have been setting up Brexit units to advise clients on how to understand and shape UK policy and how their commercial interests will be affected by leaving the EU.

The appointment coincides with further pressure on the government to clamp down on former ministers who want to take up roles in the private sector that may allow them to exploit their contacts.

Maude’s roles in government have made him one of the best connected figures in Whitehall following a 30-year career in parliament as an MP and minister.[308]

Full article here.

October 31st - George Osborne rapped by Government's lobbying watchdog

UK: The Independent reports:

George Osborne has received a stern letter from the Government’s lobbying watchdog over his activities since being sacked by Theresa May.

The former chancellor initially failed to declare that he was setting up a Northern Powerhouse think-tank despite having launched the same policy as Chancellor.

The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) was only told of Mr Osborne’s plans after they appeared in the press.

Former ministers are barred from lobbying the Government for two years after they leave office and “must seek advice from ACOBA|Acoba about any appointments or employment they wish to take up within two years of leaving office”.

The body however has no actual powers to sanction Mr Osborne for the late declaration.

In a letter to Mr Osborne, Acoba said: “The Committee would also remind you that advice should be sought on all appointments, paid or unpaid, before they are taken up or announced.”[309]

Full article here.

November 10th - Tory peer Andrew Lansley accused of trying to stall lobbying bill

UK: From The Guardian:

Andrew Lansley, the former health secretary, who now advises health companies, has been accused of trying to stall a parliamentary bill that proposes to expose lobbyists in Whitehall to greater scrutiny.

The Tory peer has tabled 30 amendments to a bill before the House of Lords that seeks to establish a new register for lobbyists who meet ministers, senior civil servants and special advisers.

Labour and transparency campaigners suspect there will not be time for a parliamentary committee to discuss the amendments, and that the changes are in effect an attempt to scupper the bill.

Lord Lansley has denied their claims, saying he wants to ensure that the bill enshrines current regulatory powers and protects those being regulated.

The lobbying (transparency) bill won support from across the Lords last month when it was introduced by the Labour peer Clive Brooke.

The proposed legislation would replace the government’s much-criticised lobbying register with one that would be far more comprehensive.

It would cover in-house lobbyists as well as agency lobbyists, and would be extended to cover meetings with senior civil servants and special advisers. At present, only meetings between agency lobbyists and ministers and permanent secretaries are recorded.

Lord Brooke told the Guardian: “It was obvious from Lord Lansley’s contribution at second reading that he doesn’t agree with the fundamentals of what I’ve proposed.

“While some of the tabled amendments look helpful, there are many others that would rip the heart out of the bill. And given the limited amount of time we’ve been allocated, it certainly feels like he’s trying scupper its passage.” [310]

Full article here.

November 11th - Donald Trump goes against vow to ‘drain the swamp’ by filling his transition team with lobbyists

USA: Despite his campaign promise to 'drain the swamp' in Washington, Donald Trump has recruited a substantial number of lobbyists to his transition team. The Independent reports:

That there seems to have been little effort so far to screen out lobbyists with barely disguised commercial reasons to inject themselves into the process risks opening Mr Trump to criticism that he sold voters a bill of goods when he promised to do things differently.

Lobbyists whose names appear on a widely circulated list of K Street denizens already given specific assignments by the transition team have connections to a variety of industries with a great deal to gain – or lose – once the Trump administration begin its work next year. They include the energy, telecommunication, agri-food, mining and hospitality sectors.

The leader of the transition team, Jeffrey Eisenach, is a consultant who for years offered his services to Verizon. The individual offices of government for which his team will help pick top staff includes the Federal Communications Commission. The “energy independence” portfolio, The New York Times reported, has been handed to Michael Catanzaro, another lobbyists whose clients inlaced several energy-sector players like Devon Energy.

Also tapped to help pick top officials who will oversee energy policy is Michael McKenna, who has lobbied on behalf of Southern Company, that has been a strong voice resisting emission limits instituted by President Barack Obama to help counter climate change.[311]

Full article here.

November 15th - Revealed: Liam Fox’s Post-Brexit Trade Talks with US Business Lobby and Climate Denying Think Tank the Heritage Foundation

UK / USA: Documents released to DeSmog UK under a freedom of information request show that during his first visit to the USA as International Trade minister, Liam Fox met with the climate science denying neoconservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation. DeSmog UK report:

The documents reveal a close relationship between Fox and the Heritage Foundation, as well as the desire for a bilateral trade deal between the two countries. They also suggest concerns over the current “political discourse” in the US could hinder the deal, however. An attendees list shows that Fox addressed 16 Heritage Foundation staff, including the think tank’s president Jim DeMint, and executive vice president, Bret Bernhardt, over lunch “to explain the formation of the Department and UK priorities on trade and our EU renegotiation”, according to the meeting notes.[312]

DeSmog UK also revealed the close relationship between Liam Fox and the Heritage Foundation:

The Heritage Foundation has campaigned for Brexit over the past few years and hosted climate denying Brexit campaigners Nigel Farage and Owen Paterson during the lead up to the June vote.

Fox’s relationship with the think tank dates back to his time as UK Defence Secretary.

During that time and up until 2011, Fox was the founder and UK chairman of Atlantic Bridge – a think tank that brought together right-wing libertarians from both sides of the pond. Among the group’s membership was Jim DeMint, a former Tea Partier and the Heritage Foundation’s current president. Fox’s former special advisor, Luke Coffey, now works at the think tank.

Upon hearing that Liam Fox was appointed as the UK’s International Trade Secretary on July 14, climate sceptic UKIP MEP Roger Helmer tweeted: “Liam Fox has good contacts in the USA. It’s quite possible that the UK will have a US free trade deal before the EU does.” [312]

Full article here.

November 22nd - Fight the 'blight' of windfarms near my golf courses, Trump urges Ukip leader

Scotland / USA: Donald Trump has urged Nigel Farage and key UKIP associates to lobby against the development of windfarms in Scotland. The Guardian reports:

The president-elect said he was “dismayed that his beloved Scotland has become overrun with ugly wind farms which he believes are a blight on the stunning landscape”, according to a member of the delegation that came with the UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, to meet Trump on the first weekend after his shock election win.

Andy Wigmore, the communications director for Leave.EU – the successful Brexit campaign led by Farage – said Trump urged the group, which included UKIP’s major donor Arron Banks, to campaign against the spread of windfarms in Scotland.[313]

Trumps' business interests have also raised concerns potential conflicts of interest. The Guardian continues:

Trump’s complex web of investments and potential conflicts of interest around the world are coming under increasing scrutiny. The president-elect is involved in at least 16 partnerships or corporations in India alone, the Washington Post reported, and he met with developers from a project in India even after winning the election. The paper also noted that about 100 foreign diplomats gathered at Trump’s new luxury hotel in Washington, close to the White House, last weekend, apparently in the hope of earning his approbation.[313]

Full article here.

December 2nd - Ministers ditch anti-lobbying proposals for charities and universities

UK: The Guardian reports on the dropping of anti-lobbying proposals aimed at charities and universities:

Ministers have dropped controversial plans to gag charities and universities as a condition of receiving public money after widespread alarm from academics and the voluntary sector.

The government announced the “anti-advocacy clause” without consultation in February, presenting the proposal as a ban on taxpayers’ funds being used for political lobbying.

The move prompted a furious reaction from charities and scientists, who said it was an attempt to muzzle criticism from experts on political issues from climate change to changes to the welfare system. Ministers responded by announcing a partial U-turn and now the idea has been abandoned.

Outlining its new standards on its £117bn annual grants budget, ministers said universities and charities could not use grants to pay for professional lobbyists, but they could continue to advise and inform government policy.

The original anti-lobbying proposals had prompted fears experts would be banned from advising ministers and MPs.

The new guidance spells out that this is no longer the intention, and reaffirms the right of charities to campaign. It says: “The new approach includes clear guidance for research grant managers that activities such as responding to select committees and consultations are appropriate for inclusion in their research grant terms.”[314]

Full article here.

December 22nd - Center for Responsive Politics releases USA lobbying expenditure data for 2016

USA: Using data from the Senate Office of Public Records, the Center for Responsive Politics has compiled data of lobbying expenditure in the USA up to October 2016. The figures show tech giant Alphabet, the parent company of Google, spent $11,850,000 on lobbying in 2016. Amazon.com spent $8,570,000 whilst Facebook spent $6,992,000.[315] The US Chamber of Commerce spent the most on lobbying in 2016 with an expenditure of $79,205,000 on lobbying activities.[316]

The total lobbying expenditure across all industries was $2.36 Billion with 10,882 registered lobbyists recorded.[317]

The Center for Responsive Politics full Lobbying Database can be viewed here.


January 6th - Lobbying tsar investigates All-Party Parliamentary groups

UK: An investigation has been launched amid concerns that all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) are being used as a way for lobbyists to bypass lobbying rules. The Guardian reports:

Alison White, the registrar of consultant lobbyists, has interviewed officials from all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) after receiving reports that lobbyists are acting as secretaries to gain access to legislators.

The inquiry comes after a growth in the number of APPGs, which are allowed use of the Palace of Westminster’s catering facilities and can invite senior ministers and civil servants for meetings with donors.

There are more than 550 APPGs, which exist to help MPs and peers discuss major issues of the day, according to the parliamentary register. The groups have received millions in external funding since the beginning of 2015.

White, who oversees the official register of consultant lobbyists, believes some of the secretaries can be identified as lobbyists and should declare their activities on the register.

“I am looking at the secretaries of APPGs who provide services but are not on my register. And some of those clearly provide public affairs services. I am in the process of working through those organisations,” she said.

The register was set up in 2015 by David Cameron following a spate of Westminster “cash for access” scandals, but it has been widely criticised for including only third-party lobbyists and not in-house public affairs professionals.

Lobbyists only have to sign up if they communicate directly with ministers or permanent secretaries – the most senior civil servants in each department. Attempts to lobby more junior civil servants or special advisers are not within its scope.

The inquiry, the first of its kind by White, will bring the activities of APPGs into sharp focus. MPs say the groups can help spread awareness of issues within parliament and act as a springboard for events and publicity.

Private firms and individuals can sponsor APPGs to help pay for “secretariat services”, trips abroad or reports. Any APPG is allowed to include a secretariat from an outside body, and it is this position that can be easily abused, according to White.[318]

Full article here.

January 26th - Mapped: How Fracking Lobbyists From the UK and America Have Infiltrated Parliament

List of donors to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Oil and Gas in 2016.[319]

UK: DeSmog UK has mapped the key connections between donors to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Oil and Gas in 2016, and Britain and America’s corporate fracking interests. DeSmog UK reports:

Fracking companies are donating hundreds of thousands of pounds to a select group of UK MPs and Lords, parliamentary data reveals.

The contributions give the shale gas industry privileged access to lawmakers, and allows companies to promote their interests inside parliament.

Companies directly involved in the shale gas industry donated around £130,000 in funds or benefits in kind to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Unconventional Oil and Gas in 2016, registry data shows.

Many of these companies are currently in the early stages of exploring for shale gas in the UK. Others are large US and multinational companies heavily involved in America’s fracking boom, which may be eyeing up UK investment opportunities if the conditions are right.[320]

UK donors gave £43,000 to the APPG in 2016. Key donors include Centrica / Cuadrilla Resources (£2,500 donation), Star Energy (£2,500 donation), INEOS (£2,500 donation), Energy and Utilities Alliance (£5,000 donation), Royal Dutch Shell and Total (two £2,500 donations).

US donors donated over £80,000 to the group in 2016. Key donors include Hill and Knowlton (£2,500 donation), Latham and Watkins (£2,500 donation) and BASF (£2,500 donation).[320]

The full report can be viewed here.

February 14th - Donald Trump lifts anti-corruption rules in 'gift to the American oil lobby'

US: The Guardian reports:

Donald Trump moved on Tuesday to expunge rules aimed at forcing oil companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments in order to secure lucrative mining and drilling rights.

The rules, called the Cardin-Lugar regulations, were established under the Dodd-Frank Act, the wide-ranging financial regulations brought in after the last financial crisis. Energy industry executives, including the former Exxon boss and now secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, have lobbied hard against the rule, arguing it gives global rivals a competitive edge.

The rules aimed to help fight corruption, and critics charge that Tuesday’s move handed “an astonishing gift to the American oil lobby”.

“It’s a big deal,” Trump said to reporters in the Oval Office as he signed the resolution. “The energy jobs are coming back. Lots of people going back to work now.”[321]

Full article here.

February 17th - Government cut recycling targets after lobbying from plastics industry

UK: Recycling targets in the UK were reduced after sustained lobbying from the plastics industry, a freedom of information request by Greenpeace has revealed. The Independent reports:

Ariana Densham, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said that nobody should be surprised by the results of the investigation.

“It mirrors the approach, which we’ve seen exposed recently, of companies like Coca-Cola lobbying against the introduction of bottle deposit return schemes and increased recycling rates,” Ms Densham said.

“Those profiting from throwaway plastics are abdicating responsibility for the end life of their products, while blaming consumers for their environmental impact on land and at sea,” she added.

Greenpeace obtained 62 of the 63 responses to a Government consultation on recycling targets. Fifteen of the respondents were industry lobby groups, while a further ten were producers of plastics products. All but one of those 25 responses pushed for a reduction in recycling targets.[322]

Full article here.`

In response to the revelations, Green MEP Keith Taylor stated:

"These latest revelations expose the Government's shameful decision to kowtow to industry lobbyists and roll back important recycling progress. Far from being a party working for the many, the Conservatives prove, once again, they are the party of powerful and privileged vested interests."

"We cannot let the Government use the EU referendum as an excuse further water down essential recycling targets. The EU Circular Economy Package sets an ambitious and common EU-wide target for recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030. Ministers must make a firm commitment to maintaining and implementing these ambitious targets post-Brexit."[323]

February 21st - Theresa May's spin doctor quit PR roles after questions over conflict of interest

UK: Theresa May's Head of Communications resigns following revelations she didn't step down as director of three PR firms until five months after taking up her new role. The Guardian reports:

Theresa May’s chief spin doctor officially resigned from three companies set up with a public relations executive days after Labour raised questions of a potential conflict of interest.

Katie Perrior became the prime minister’s head of communications in July last year. She notified Companies House on 21 December that she had stepped down as a director of the public relations companies iNHouse PR, iNHouse Connex and Hersay Ltd.

Perrior, whose role was occupied by Alastair Campbell and Andy Coulson under previous prime ministers, was the co-director and shareholder in all three firms with Jo Tanner, a former Conservative party staffer and long-term business partner.

In a statement to the Guardian, Perrior, the former head of press at ITV and Channel 4 News, blamed an administrative oversight for the failure to register the resignations when she took up the Downing Street role in July. Companies House documents show she has now backdated her resignations to that date.

The Labour MP for Grimsby, Melanie Onn, asked the civil service’s head of ethics, Sue Gray, on 19 December why the three companies had not been dissolved and the shares disposed of in July.

Questions were also raised about Perrior’s working relationship with iNHouse Communications, a fourth company from which Perrior resigned in July, where Tanner remains a director.

Responding after the resignations, Onn said: “Katie Perrior resigned three PR company directorships and ditched shares but this has been registered just two days after I raised them with the civil service’s head of ethics and propriety.

“It should not have taken my intervention for this potential conflict of interest to be identified,” she said. [324]

Full article here.

March 30th - UK's former most senior EU diplomat takes Brexit role for lobbying firm

UK: Jonathan Hill, Britain’s former EU commissioner has been recruited as a senior Brexit adviser to the law firm Freshfields. The Guardian reports:

Hill, a longtime ally of David Cameron and a former leader of the Lords, resigned as an EU commissioner in June, two days after the vote to leave the EU.

His appointment to the role in 2014 followed a career in lobbying and public relations. He worked for Lowe Bell Communications, Quiller Consultants, Bell Pottinger and Huntsworth, a listed PR firm. Freshfields is registered as an approved lobbyist in the European commission and parliament.

According to its website, the law firm has set up a team of 12 lawyers and advisers who will advise clients on the implications of Brexit, “helping reduce uncertainties, assess risks and seize opportunities”.

In his new role at Freshfields, which will be part-time, Hill will advise the firm and its clients on Brexit-related matters.

His recruitment follows disquiet over the roles taken up by former ministers as Brexit advisers. Francis Maude, a former cabinet minister, was criticised in September after joining Covington & Burling LLP as a senior adviser in its government affairs practice.

In August, it emerged that the former foreign secretary William Hague had been appointed to the “Brexit client transition unit” at the consultancy Teneo, whose clients include HSBC, Coca-Cola and Nissan. Hague has also been working with the law firm Linklaters, where he chairs the international advisory group.

Sir Craig Oliver, who led Cameron’s remain campaign, has also taken up a role at Teneo, while Paul Hardy, an ex-EU legal adviser to the House of Lords, has been recruited to the legal and lobbying firm DLA Piper as a legal director and lead Brexit specialist.[325]

Full article here.

April 3rd - Fracking firm Ineos leads industry lobbying to avoid green tax

UK The Guardian reports:

Anglo-Swiss chemicals firm Ineos is privately leading an industry lobbying attempt to avoid paying for the cost of decarbonising Britain’s economy.

Documents released under freedom of information rules reveal that Ineos is pushing the government to use Brexit as a chance to exempt the chemicals sector entirely from climate policy costs.

Currently, energy users pay a levy to support green energy providers, such as offshore windfarms. Last week, the government announced £100m worth of cuts to the energy bills of heavy users, meaning the chemicals, cement and steel sectors will pay less towards subsidising low-carbon energy generation.

That new help comes on top of exemptions worth £250m already awarded to such energy-intensive industries, but the documents show that Ineos is pushing for even more generous treatment.

Billionaire founder Jim Ratcliffe, who is the chief executive and chairman, promised a British shale gas revolution in 2014 to produce gas for energy and the chemicals it needs for the company’s Grangemouth refinery in Scotland.

Although Ineos’s shale drilling efforts have run behind schedule, the materials show the company has been busy lobbying behind the scenes to remove barriers to fracking and weaken environmental taxes.

The cache of progress updates, letters and meeting notes comes from the Chemistry Growth Partnership, a government-industry initiative. Ineos is a member of the partnership and its director, Tom Crotty, chairs the initiative’s energy work.

One document dated shortly before the European Union referendum said: “Outside the EU: simplify the UK policy mix and seek a single route to 100% exemption from policy costs and CCL [climate change levy, an environmental tax]. Seek a low-cost alternative to EU ETS [the EU’s carbon trading scheme].” [326]

Full article here.

April 11th - Gauke lands Lansons lobbyist

UK: David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury, has hired PR firm Lansons head of public policy James Dowling to be his top political aide.[327]

April 18th - Greenpeace fined under Lobbying Act in 'act of civil disobedience'

UK: Greenpeace has become the organisation to be fined under the government’s Lobbying Act. The Guardian reports:

Ministers said the legislation, dubbed the “gagging law” by charities, would hold corporate lobbyists to account when it was introduced in 2014.

But the act has faced intense criticism from civil society groups which have repeatedly warned that the restrictions it imposes on spending during an election would hamper the activities of legitimate groups.

Greenpeace says those fears have been borne out after the charity revealed it had been fined £30,000 for refusing to register as a “third-party campaigning organisation” in the run-up to the 2015 election.

John Sauven, Greenpeace UK executive director, said the decision not to register was an “act of civil disobedience” and warned that the fine would have a further “chilling effect” on the charities and civil society groups in the run-up to June’s election.

“Sometimes legislation is just wrong and you have to stand up and say so. The Lobbying Act is a democratic car crash; it weakens democracy and curtails free speech.”

He added: “Now Britain is going into a second general election regulated by a law that does little to stop powerful companies exerting secret influence in the corridors of power while gagging charities and campaign groups with millions of members. If the last election is anything to go by it will have a chilling effect on groups trying to raise important issues.”

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said its investigation had concluded that Greenpeace had “failed to comply fully with the rules on spending for non-party campaigners”.[328]

Full article here.

May 2nd - Tories select special advisers and lobbyists as election candidates

UK: David Singleton reports on how the Conservative Party have selected a host of special advisers and lobbyists to fight key Conservative seats in the upcoming general election:

In the last few days, at least four former or current special advisers have been chosen as Tory prospective parliamentary candidates.

The prime minister’s social justice policy adviser Alex Burghart is effectively guaranteed a job as an MP after being selected for the safe Tory seat of Brentwood and Ongar. But Theresa May risks charges of election cronyism after party bosses parachuted Burghart into the seat which has been held by Eric Pickles since 1992.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon’s special adviser James Wild has been selected to fight North Norfolk, which is held by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb with a majority of 4,043.

Business secretary Greg Clarke’s former special adviser Meg Powell-Chandler will fight for Birmingham Northfield, where Labour has a majority of 2,509. Powell-Chandler also worked as a special adviser in Downing Street under David Cameron and has recently been working as a policy consultant for homelessness charity Crisis.

And transport secretary Chris Grayling’s former special adviser Will Gallagher has been named as the Tory candidate for City of Chester, where Labour has a wafer-thin majority of 93. Gallagher worked for Grayling when he justice secretary, leaving in 2015 to become a director at National Citizen Service.

Another senior Tory adviser is still waiting to hear if he can have a plum Tory seat. The prime minister’s political secretary, Stephen Parkinson, is in the running for Saffron Walden, which has a Tory majority of 25,000 votes.

It comes as a handful of lobbyists have also been selected as Conservative candidates in seats that the party hopes to steal off Labour.

The Tories have picked public affairs agency boss Antony Calvert to stand against Mary Creagh in Wakefield and Fujitsu UK corporate affairs chief Clark Vasey to fight Sue Hayman in Workington.

In Stockport, the Tories have chosen Daniel Hamilton, a director at FTI Consulting. And in Birmingham Edgbaston, they have selected Caroline Squire, who is a lobbyist and the great-great granddaughter of Joseph Chamberlain.[329]

May 4th - At least nine Donald Trump transition staffers ‘register as lobbyists’ despite US President's promised six-month ban

USA: The Independent reports on how former members of Donald Trump's transition team are now registered as lobbyists despite the US President temporarily barring them from doing so:

Mr Trump promised in November that any transition staffers would be barred for six months from lobbying on issues for which they “had direct and substantial responsibility during service with the transition.”

But just three months into the Republican leader’s presidency, the bar seems to have had little impact.

An influential guide to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is now registered to lobby her department, according to the Politico website, which also reported that a former head of tax policy has returned to his old company to lobby Congress on tax reform.

Mr Trump also released an ethics plan three weeks before the election in November, pledging to ban all executive-branch officials from lobbying for five years after leaving their government jobs.

The campaign aimed to reduce the influence of lobbyists and became part of his wider pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington.

However, two officials who served in the White House, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former state department employee Robert Wasinger, said they never had to sign such a ban.[330]

Full article here.

May 16th - Labour launch 2017 General Election manifesto, includes replacing Lobbying Act with tougher statutory register of lobbyists

UK: The Labour Party officially launch their 2017 general Election manifesto. It includes a brief section stating:

We will safeguard our democracy by repealing the Lobbying Act, which has gagged charities, and introduce a tougher statutory register of lobbyists.[331]

May 21st - Charities may face criminal sanctions as 'gagging law' backdated before election

UK: The Electoral Commission has stated UK charities must declare any campaign work that could be deemed political over the past 12 months in order to ensure that they are not in breach of the Lobbying Act. The Guardian reports:

At least one charity has been warned that if it does not, it may face “civil or criminal sanctions”.

The legislation, dubbed the “gagging law” by charities when it was introduced in 2014, regulates the amount of money organisations can spend on campaigns deemed to be political in the run up to an election.

Under fixed term parliament rules it was envisaged that organisations would know when the period of regulated spending came into force ahead of a general election.

But following Theresa May’s snap election announcement last month the Electoral Commission has announced that the regulated period came into force retrospectively – and started in June last year.

Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven said the decision would have a huge impact on charities’ activities.

“The commission implies that since a snap election can be called at any time, there is now no fixed start or end date to the regulated period. It’s as if the Lobbying Act and its spending cap were now permanently in force, every day of every year.”

The Electoral Commission has threatened to close down Greenpeace’s campaigning activity if it fails to comply with the act in the run up to this year’s election.

Last month the environmental group became one of the first organisations to be fined under the act, incurring a £30,000 fine for refusing to register as a “third-party campaigning organisation” in the run-up to the 2015 election.

Sauven added: “This absurd interpretation is bound to have a significant impact on civil society as it multiplies the uncertainty and confusion already created by the Lobbying Act. If you are a fairly large campaign group or a smaller charity working in a coalition, you’re under permanent threat of being fined and potentially even convicted for your normal campaign activities.

“All it takes is for a snap election to be called and a campaign like Make Poverty History could be in breach of the law. There’s a real risk many charities will pull out of the political debate for fear of being caught up in this bureaucratic and legal quagmire.”

The Electoral Commission has written to Greenpeace stating that if it fails to register all its spending during the period to June last year it “may be subject to civil or criminal sanction”.[332]

Full article here.

May 24th - EU declared Monsanto weedkiller safe after intervention from controversial US official

EU: The European Food Safety Authority has dismissed a study linking a Monsanto weedkiller to cancer following advice from a US Environmental Protection Agency officer allegedly linked to the company. The Guardian reports:

Jess Rowlands, the former head of the EPA’s cancer assessment review committee (CARC), who figures in more than 20 lawsuits and had previously told Monsanto he would try to block a US government inquiry into the issue, according to court documents.

The core ingredient of Monsanto’s RoundUp brand is a chemical called glyphosate, for which the European commission last week proposed a new 10-year license.

Doubts about its regulatory passage have been stirred by unsealed documents in an ongoing US lawsuit against Monsanto by sufferers of non-hodgkins lymphoma, who claim they contracted the illness from exposure to RoundUp.

“If I can kill this, I should get a medal,” Rowlands allegedly told a Monsanto official, Dan Jenkins, in an email about a US government inquiry into glyphosate in April 2015.

In a separate internal email of that time, Jenkins, a regulatory affairs manager, said that Rowlands was about to retire and “could be useful as we move forward with [the] ongoing glyphosate defense”.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that Rowlands took part in a teleconference with Efsa as an observer in September 2015.

Six weeks later, Efsa adopted an argument Rowlands had used to reject a key 2001 study which found a causal link between exposure to glyphosate and increased tumour incidence in mice.

Rowlands’ intervention was revealed in a letter sent by the head of Efsa’s pesticides unit, Jose Tarazona, to Peter Clausing, an industry toxicologist turned green campaigner.

In the missive, Tarazona said that “the observer from the US-EPA [Rowlands] informed participants during the teleconference about potential flaws in the Kumar (2001) study related to viral infections.”

Efsa’s subsequent report said that the Kumar study “was reconsidered during the second experts’ teleconference as not acceptable due to viral infections”.[333]

Full article here.

May 24th - EU warns bureaucrats to beware Brexit lobbyists

EU: The Telegraph reports on a "do's and don'ts" checklist that has been distributed to EU bureaucrats in order to protect them from lobbyists looking to influence the upcoming Brexit negotiations:

Brussels civil servants are told not to accept hospitality "without careful consideration", not to share confidential information and "where necessary" report any gifts.

Meetings outside of office hours are banned and officials warned that "lobbying can also take place during casual encounters and in social settings".

Lobbying is carried out in Brussels by a wide range of organisations such as consultancies, law firms, NGOs, trade associations and campaigners, the list reads.

It was drawn up by the European Ombudsman, which investigates maladministration in EU institutions, such as the European Commission.

The 20 point list is "relevant to the imminent Brexit negotiations when large numbers of interest representatives will understandably seek to engage with EU officials," the watchdog said.[334]

Full article here.

May 25th - Ministers ordered to reveal meetings with lobbyists

UK: David Singleton reports on a ruling that could mean ministers are forced to reveal full details of their ministerial diaries:

The government has failed in a bid to block disclosure of the diary kept by former health secretary Andrew Lansley when he was drawing up the Health and Social Care Act – and when he was allegedly subjected to extensive lobbying by private healthcare interests.

Lansley was health secretary from 2010 to 2012. He stood down as a Tory MP in 2015 and was made a peer by David Cameron.

He went on to take a job with management consultants Bain & Company advising corporate clients on healthcare reforms. He also asked for official approval to work for the firm set up by his wife, Sally Low, called Low Associates, which specialises in PR and EU-related public affairs.

Critics have claimed that the Health and Social Care Act increased the privatisation of the NHS and that Lansley could have been influenced by lobbyists.

Journalist Simon Lewis had made a request to the Department of Health under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to see diary contents for the period May 12 2010 to April 30 2011. Despite Cameron's repeated claims to be committed to transparency, Lansley's meetings for this period have not been made available online.

The government initially only provided a redacted version, but this was challenged by the Information Commissioner.

The Government has now lost a series of legal challenges to the commissioner's decision, ending in a unanimous three-judge appeal ruling yesterday in favour of disclosure.

In the lead ruling, Sir Terence Etherton said the FOI Act created a general right of access to information held by public authorities but allowed for exemptions from disclosure.

Dismissing the Government appeal, he said the benefits of disclosing the information included "general value of openness" and "transparency in public administration".

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The Government is considering the decision of the Court of Appeal and will respond in due course.”[335]

May 26th - White House agrees to detail ethics waivers

US: The White House has agreed to comply with a request from the US government’s ethics agency to provide information on which former lobbyists are working in the administration. Reuters reports:

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), said in a letter that the administration was not seeking to impede efforts by the Office of Government Ethics to obtain that information, despite earlier protests from Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). “OMB shares the belief that the executive branch must uphold the highest ethical standards in accordance with the law,” Mulvaney wrote. “Our concern was, and is, protecting the process related to the data call.”[336]

Full article here.

June 22nd - Trump appointee is a Saudi government lobbyist

US: The Center for Public Integrity reports on Richard Hohlt's appointment by Donald Trump, highlighting his lobbying activities on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government:

One of President Donald Trump’s newest appointees is a registered agent of Saudi Arabia earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby on the kingdom’s behalf, according to U.S. Department of Justice records reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.

Since January, the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry has paid longtime Republican lobbyist Richard Hohlt about $430,000 in exchange for “advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.”

Trump’s decision to appoint a registered foreign agent to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships clashes with the president’s vow to clean up Washington and limit the influence of special interests.

Trump singled out lobbyists for foreign governments for special criticism, saying they shouldn’t be permitted to contribute to political campaigns. Hohlt is himself a Trump donor, though his contributions came before he registered to represent Saudi Arabia.

“I will issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT! #DrainTheSwamp,” he tweeted in October.[337]

Full article here.

June 28th - Trump's ex-campaign chief registers as foreign agent over Ukraine work

US: The Guardian reports on Paul Manafort registering with the US justice department as a foreign agent:

Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has registered with the US justice department as a foreign agent for political consulting work he did for a Ukrainian political party, acknowledging that he coached party members on how to interact with US government officials.

In a filing on Tuesday, Manafort said his firm, DMP International, received more than $17m (£13.2m) from the Party of Regions, the former pro-Russian ruling party in Ukraine, for consulting work from 2012 to 2014. Manafort is the second member of the Trump campaign to register as a foreign agent.

In March, former national security adviser Michael Flynn registered with the justice department for work his consulting firm performed for a Turkish businessman that he said could have aided the Turkish government. Both registrations came after the work had been completed.

Manafort helmed Trump’s campaign for about five months until August. He resigned from the campaign immediately after the Associated Press reported on his firm’s covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling political party. He is one of several people linked to the Trump campaign who are under scrutiny by a special counsel and congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and potential coordination with Trump associates. Manafort has denied any coordination with Russia and has said his work in Ukraine was not related to the campaign.[338]

Full article here.


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