Up in Arms: Back Again Despite Being Twice Stripped of Pass,
Loophole Lets Lobbyist Back into Parliament for Third Time


On first impression the aims of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces – “to promote in Parliament better understanding of the UK’s armed forces, and their objectives and activities” – seem reasonable. Alarm bells start to ring when you look at the make-up of this particular cross-party group. Any organisation that has Lord “Cash for Influence” Moonie as its treasurer needs investigating…

So far all the group seems to have done is get some army officers drunk on the Common’s terrace. They deserve a beer you might say, but when you look at who is organising this whole jolly grouping, the true purpose of it all comes into question. The first meeting “agreed that the offer of the UK Defence Forum to provide support for the APPG and single service groups within it be accepted (subject to appropriate disclosures in the Register of Interests).” Now what would a group funded by a bunch of weapons contractors have to gain from pouring money into such a group, eh?

The background of the employee brought in to organise the APPG is laughable. Robin Ashby was subject of an exposé in the Indy two years ago. It was revealed this defence lobbyist had a pass sponsored by a LibDem peer. He was subsequently stripped of the pass. That didn’t stop him getting another one from Lord “Cash for Influence” Moonie in 2009. Again this was exposed, this time by the Telegraph and for a second time he was stripped of that pass. He now has a third pass, this time through the back door of an APPG of which Lord Moonie holds the purse strings.

Ashby runs the defence industry funded UK Defence Forum and owns lobbying firm Bergmans.* Bergmans, according to the Indy, do work “on behalf of more than a dozen large defence and aerospace companies including BAE Systems, Northern Defence Industries, UK Defence Forum, Boeing and Rolls-Royce, which has been criticised for its past links to the Burmese regime.” A nice bunch, and just the man we want mingling with law-makers.

In his secretarial role to the Armed Forces APPG, Ashby has been given a third new parliamentary pass and email address, and is once again free to roam the corridors of power and take full advantage of the parliamentary hospitality and entertainment, for himself and his clients. So embedded is Ashby that this morning he even signed off emails on behalf of an MP.  In what way does the group’s chairman James Gray think it acceptable to grant this arms lobbyist, who has twice before been stripped of passes, unfettered access to MPs and Lords when the rules about this are so clear?

UPDATE : Just got off the phone with Robin Ashby. He says he is more of a hobbyist than a lobbyist, his hobby being the UK defence industry which doesn’t pay him much more than expenses. He claims he is basically semi-retired, with an office and a staffer. The Millbank, Brussels and Washington office addresses on his website are all “rubbish” he says.  When Guido pointed out the obvious commercial advantages of having a parliamentary pass for someone who offers a parliamentary monitoring service he said he does that all online. All clear?



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Charles Clarke says Cameron is the most successful PM for over a century…

“Under Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives gained 99 seats. They lost 211 under John Major, gained one under William Hague, quickly and wisely got rid of Ian Duncan-Smith, gained 32 under Michael Howard and have so far gained 133 under David Cameron who, to the great surprise of many (including senior Conservatives), has turned out to be the most electorally successful Tory leader since 1900.”

Top Posts This Week

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

“SECURITY” NO. 10’S CORBYN ATTACK LINE OF CHOICE “SECURITY” NO. 10’S CORBYN ATTACK LINE OF CHOICE
“FULL, OPEN AND TRANSPARENT PROCESS” FOR NEW GUARDIAN POL ED “FULL, OPEN AND TRANSPARENT PROCESS” FOR NEW GUARDIAN POL ED
REFERENDUM QUESTION: REMAIN OR LEAVE? REFERENDUM QUESTION: REMAIN OR LEAVE?
NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY HACKED NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY HACKED
NO CAMPAIGN MAKING FRIENDS: “I HOPE YOU DIE IN A FREAK YACHTING ACCIDENT” NO CAMPAIGN MAKING FRIENDS: “I HOPE YOU DIE IN A FREAK YACHTING ACCIDENT”
CORBYN EQUATES BIN LADEN DEATH “TRAGEDY” WITH 9/11 CORBYN EQUATES BIN LADEN DEATH “TRAGEDY” WITH 9/11

RICH’S MONDAY MORNING VIEW RICH’S MONDAY MORNING VIEW
ENVIRONMENT MAYOR TOTTY WATCH: BRAZIL EDITION ENVIRONMENT MAYOR TOTTY WATCH: BRAZIL EDITION
HAIN GRAVY TRAIN HYPOCRISY HAIN GRAVY TRAIN HYPOCRISY
MONBIOT SKINS & COOKS SQUIRREL ON NEWSNIGHT MONBIOT SKINS & COOKS SQUIRREL ON NEWSNIGHT
DAVE’S CARBON BAGGAGE DAVE’S CARBON BAGGAGE
Daylight Robbery: Met Chain Themselves to £216 Billion 10 Year IT Contract Daylight Robbery: Met Chain Themselves to £216 Billion 10 Year IT Contract
Trumps Hair: Toupee or Not Toupee? Trumps Hair: Toupee or Not Toupee?
BURNHAM BLOWS DOG WHISTLE LINE BURNHAM BLOWS DOG WHISTLE LINE
DCMS FUN POLICE CALLED OFF THE CASE DCMS FUN POLICE CALLED OFF THE CASE
NEW PEERAGES LIST IN FULL NEW PEERAGES LIST IN FULL
WELSH FIRST MINISTER CONDEMNS STEEL WORKERS WELSH FIRST MINISTER CONDEMNS STEEL WORKERS
MOAT CLEANING EXPENSES SCANDAL MP AWARDED PEERAGE MOAT CLEANING EXPENSES SCANDAL MP AWARDED PEERAGE
CHICKEN TORIES CHICKEN TORIES
1 IN 5 CORBYN SUPPORTERS VOTED FOR CLEGG 1 IN 5 CORBYN SUPPORTERS VOTED FOR CLEGG
CORBYN ESCAPES #LABOURPURGE CORBYN ESCAPES #LABOURPURGE
VOICE OF AN OIL DRILL VOICE OF AN OIL DRILL
Wind Turbines: Subsidised Sun Beds Wind Turbines: Subsidised Sun Beds
FLASHBACK: EVERY DAY SEXUAL SEGREGATION FLASHBACK: EVERY DAY SEXUAL SEGREGATION
Control the Camera on this 360° Crossrail Video Control the Camera on this 360° Crossrail Video
Flashback: Labour Leader Vote Hijack, Could Rivals Do a Balotelli? Flashback: Labour Leader Vote Hijack, Could Rivals Do a Balotelli?
Andy Burnham Everyday Sexism Andy Burnham Everyday Sexism
Burnham Threatens to Quit Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet Burnham Threatens to Quit Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet
GORDON DOOMS YVETTE (?) GORDON DOOMS YVETTE (?)
MPs’ Deleted Tweets Twitter Don’t Want You to See MPs’ Deleted Tweets Twitter Don’t Want You to See