Clegg Brings Yet Another Lobbyist into the Heart of Government

Ssssh no one mention lobbying reform! Clegg has replaced his not-up-to-the-job Comms Director with Edelman’s public affairs managing director Stephen Lotinga. It’s a bit of a slap to Edelman considering the spin-merchant had only been there for a few weeks after signing from those paragons of virtue Bell Pottinger.

Fresh from spinning for the likes of ATOS, Russian banks and Kazak private equity firms, Lotinga’s only other job recorded on his CV seems to be working for the LibDems. Hiring a communications director who has never had a job outside politics or PR is sure to help the party connect to voters. Clegg will be hoping this one lasts more than two months…

Government Trade Envoy’s £60,000 Conflict of Interest
Charles Hendry’s Oil Job Linked to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan

Tory MP Charles Hendry has been a busy coining it since he was sacked as Energy minister, landing a £48,000 windfall from wind energy giants Forewind and hobnobbing with Hanover lobbyists and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. On top of that, Hendry has now bagged another outside job as a consultant at oil giants Vitol. He will be paid £60,000-a-year for eighteen days’ work, taking his outside earnings over £100,000.

Vitol is a $300 billion energy trading company which runs oil exploration projects in corrupt, authoritarian countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Guido is sure it is nothing more than coincidence, but Hendry is also the president of the advisory board of the Russo-British chamber of commerce and is the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Hendry is standing down in 2015, but not before he trousers one last big payday…

London Lobbyists Landed Millions in Filthy Ukrainian Lucre

Lobbyists and spinmeisters who coined it on the back of Viktor Yanukovych’s authoritarian Ukrainian regime are getting jumpy. Meet James Wilson, a leading light at city spin shop FIPRA (Finsbury International Policy & Regulatory Advisers) who looks after firm’s Ukrainian clients. Oddly enough Wilson’s work at FIPRA Ukraine is not declared on the EU Transparency register. That despite FIPRA’s own website confirming that he is in charge of spinning for the Federation of Employers of Ukraine, who are backed by Yanukovych ally Serhiy Kurchenko, one of only 18 Ukranian kleptocrats to be hit with an EU asset freeze and travel ban. Possibly to do with him defrauding the Ukraine’s coffers of more than $1 billion…

Wilson is listed as a representative of the innocuous sounding “EU Ukraine Business Council” set up to “promote trade, economic and business links between Ukraine and the EU and initiate projects that contribute to the development of Ukraine”. The Chamber, whose offices are located in Viktor Yanukovych’s powerbase of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine, holds regular conferences in the European Parliament, where it euphemistically claims to “help to solve market access difficulties”. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink…

Also among Wilson’s clients is shady pharma firm Alcon, who have been embroiled in several bribery scandals, to top it all, he also spins for the State Administration of Sevastopol – who have just declared independence from Kiev, backed up by Russian troops. Presumably they’re going to start paying him in roubles… 

Stop Ex-MPs Turned Lobbyists Prostituting Access to Parliament

As regular readers will remember, disgraced former Labour Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has resurfaced as a lobbyist. Given that he was found guilty of electoral fraud after attempting to stir up racial tensions in his constituency, Guido would advise any potential clients of Wellington Street Partners to hold on to their money. The lobbying firm is the sleazy brainchild of three ex-MPs (Woolas, Tory Sydney Chapman and LibDem
love cheat Paul Keetch), and was set up to “provide our clients” services “based on our combined sixty years of Parliamentary and Government experience”.

Crucially, all three of the MPs have been given courtesy passes to Parliament as former MPs despite strict rules that ban lobbyists having unchecked access to the Commons. Time to remove this perk which allows ex-MPs to openly prostitute their easy access to parliament.

Paterson Doth Protest
Mystery of Minister, MP, Lobbyists and Empty Wine Glass

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson is rather cross with Guido over the suggestion he was drinking with lobbyists late into the night on Wednesday in the Intercontinental Hotel bar while large swathes of the country were still underwater. His people claim that although he was with the lobbyists on Wednesday and that it was late at night and that it was the posh Westminster Intercontinental Hotel bar, what Guido said was greatly defamatory. Apparently he wasn’t drinking. As you can see from the pictures, Guido must have been confused…


So who were Owen’s companions? Well Hanover Comm’s Charles Lewington was there and former Tory Energy Minister Charles Hendry, the current Tory MP for Wealden, was loitering in the background (to the left in the picture) in a manner which is surely entirely unrelated to the £5,000 plus-a-month he is paid by various energy companies. Hanover represent those mother-frackers Cuadrilla as well as Shell UK, amongst others. Coincidentally Lewington and Hendry chatted at length the very second that Paterson left the room after 25 minutes of, apparently, not drinking in the bar. Guido is sure that the floodplains of Somerset were high up on their late night, cosy and totally dry agenda.

Yeo Could Face Legal Challenge for Overt Campaigning

Despite party rules stating that he is not meant to be overtly campaigning, Tim Yeo is fighting hard for his political survival in Suffolk. The trougher even sent members Christmas cards for the first time in a decade and has become uncharacteristically active in his previously neglected seat. Neighbouring MP Dan Poulter is helping to boost support locally, “they’re golf buddies” notes another MP dryly.

If Yeo should win the crunch vote, a legal challenge has been prepared by local Tories desperate to be rid of him. In 1983 Yeo comfortably survived an attempt to oust him as the candidate after a company he chaired was investigated by the London Stock Exchange over a share scandal, this time it might be time to sell shares in Tim Yeo. Local party elders suggest the fall out, division, and defections will be greater if the great greedy green survives the vote.

Steve Richards Takes Lobbyists’ Money

steve-richards-lobbyist

Guido can reveal that Steve Richards, the Indy’s political pundit and sometime TV talking head, has taken up a role with the public affairs lobbying firm Hanover Communications. When Guido spoke to Steve he was a little sheepish and seemed unsure of his role, he said he would be providing political advice to the firm. According to Charles Lewington, the former spinner for John Major who founded Hanover, Richards will be a “strategic advisor”. Hanover’s clients include fracking pioneers Cuadrilla, assorted investment banks like Goldman Sachs, various arms dealers, big oil corporations and pharmaceutical companies. Richards says he has cleared it with the Indy and “it won’t affect his writing”.

WATCH: Lobbyist Lunches with Politicians

lobbyist-corruption

Just as in D.C., if you go to the more expensive Westminster restaurants any day of the week you will see this same ritual being played out. The taxpayers usually end up paying the bill…

Downing Street Revolving Doors LibDem Joanne Foster Out and Cooper on His Way

As Guido revealed in the Sun on Sunday Downing Street pollster Andrew Cooper is to leave No.10 shortly. It will be spun that he is going to continue helping out on a part-time basis when he goes back to his […]

+ READ MORE +

Hennessy’s Telegraph Deputy Becomes Banker Lobbyist

All change on the Sunday Telegraph political team. With Paddy Hennessy off to spin for Ed, his former deputy Rob Watts has taken a slightly different path. Watts has been snapped up as a lobbyist for the British Bankers’ Association[…]

+ READ MORE +

Wonks Demolish Lobbying Bill
IEA, TFA, CPS, TPA, BBW and ASI Slam Proposals

We wish to highlight our grave concern about the Government’s Lobbying Bill, a piece of legislation that poses a significant threat to legitimate campaigning freedom of speech, political activism and informed public debate.

Part II of the bill threatens the

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Another Happy Reader

One of the Eagles knows her blogs, name-checking the best in her speech opposing the Lobbying Bill:

No mention of that Scrapbook site. Whatever happened to them?[…]

+ READ MORE +



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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.”

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