Ed Davey Defends EDF Deal

Ed Davey’s worst ever Hinkley Point C deal, which will allow owners EDF to charge treble the current market rate for 35 years, was featured on the Today Programme this morning. The BBC failed to mention at any point before, during, or after Davey’s interview that he is now working for EDF’s lobbying firm, MHP. Davey spoke for three minutes defending his deal with EDF, and did not once think to mention his new role as a ‘strategic adviser at MHP to the energy sector’.

Davey claims the agreement was made with “the best available advice”:

“… the truth is, if you look at deals like this, which are over 60 years of generating, you don’t know sitting here today exactly what the value’s going to be, because you’d have to know the price of carbon, the prices of gases and things, in 20, 30, 40 years time – I’m not a clairvoyant, I’m not God.”

You do work for a firm that lobbies on behalf of EDF though…

Cash-For-Access MP Faces Standards Commissioner Probe

Laurence Robertson, the Tory MP at the centre of a cash-for-access row following Guido’s two stories yesterday, has been reported to the Standards Commissioner. Edward Buxton, who was Labour’s candidate in Robertson’s Tewkesbury seat, writes to Kathryn Hudson:

Dear Mrs Hudson,

I wish to refer you to the recent allegations that have been made regarding my local Member of Parliament Laurence Robertson and his award of a parliamentary pass to a lobbyist​. 

​The Guido Fawkes ​website reported that Mr Robertson gave “a parliamentary pass” with “authorised access” to the entire parliamentary estate to Jennifer Bryant-Pearson, “a lobbyist who paid him thousands of pounds.” Jennifer Bryant-Pearson is chief executive of JBP Public Relations, a lobbying firm which specialises in parliamentary affairs.

It ​was further reported that Mr Robertson has declared “up to £10,000 in payments from Westminster Parliamentary Research”, which is ​in turn ​run by Bryant-Pearson. ​The Telegraph has reported that ​Mr Robertson is ​employed as ​a board member at Veolia Environmental Services ​and “has declared thousands of pounds in payments from Veolia since 2013.” ​Veolia Environmental Services has been described as “one of the main clients” of JBP Public Relations.

​The overlap between Bryant-Pearson; JBP Public Relations; Westminster Parliamentary Research; Veolia Environmental Services and Laurence Robertson seems to have allowed Mr Robertson to sponsor “Bryant-Pearson for a pass while he was in the pay of her client.”

Mr Robertson has ​claimed “Ms Bryant-Pearson carried out work supporting All Party Groups (APPG), secretarial duties, publicity, arranging and attending meetings and translation services,” however the use of parliamentary passes for ​APPG staff ​was withdrawn on 18 July 2013 and the Serjeant at Arms wrote to ​all ​MPs informing them “that this category of pass should not be used in the future”. Yet the pass in question was still held by Ms Bryant-Pearson until ​a few months ago. If I may can I refer you to the final words of the Guido Fawkes blog post: “it stinks…”

The entire case raises ​fundamental questions and concerns over the conduct and judgement of Mr Robertson. I would be grateful if you would investigate this matter and inform me of the outcome.

Kind Regards,

Edward Buxton

Giving a pass to a lobbyist for APPG work is explicitly banned by the Serjeant at Arms, and Robertson confessed to Guido in writing that this is what he has done. Add in the £40,000 changing hands and this is going to be a very difficult one to explain…

Cash-For Access Tory MP Paid £30,000 By Lobbyist’s Client

This morning Guido revealed a Tory MP has given a parliamentary pass to a lobbyist who paid him thousands of pounds. Laurence Robertson was paid £10,000 by a firm run by Jennifer Bryant-Pearson, for whom he subsequently arranged a parliamentary pass. This afternoon Guido can reveal that Robertson is currently employed by one of Bryant-Pearson’s biggest clients.

Robertson has been paid £10,000-a-year since 2013 for his position on the board of Veolia Environmental Services. Veolia are one of the main clients of JBP Public Relations, the lobbying company run by Bryant-Pearson. So not only did the pass-carrying lobbyist employ Robertson, her major client still does. Crucially, Robertson sponsored Bryant-Pearson for a pass while he was in the pay of her client. Robertson tells Guido:

“Ms Bryant-Pearson carried out work supporting All Party Groups, secretarial duties, publicity, arranging and attending meetings and translation services.”

Lobbyists were banned from having parliamentary passes through work on APPGs in 2013. Yet Robertson gave Bryant-Pearson a pass until 2015. Guido has asked Robertson if he denies this is a case of cash-for-access, and what “secretarial duties” this chief executive of a lobbying company carried out. He has yet to reply…

Tory MP Cash For Access: Pass For Lobbyist Who Paid Him Thousands

A Tory MP has given a parliamentary pass to a lobbyist who paid him thousands of pounds. Laurence Robertson, the infamous cad who employed both his wife and girlfriend on the taxpayer, has authorised access to the parliamentary estate to Jennifer Bryant-Pearson. She is the chief executive of JBP Public Relations, a lobbying firm which specialises in parliamentary affairs. Bryant-Pearson also runs a company called Westminster Parliamentary Research, which paid Robertson around £10,000 for “consultancy work” in 2010. A lobbyist lined the pockets of a serving MP, then he gave her unfettered access to the corridors of power.

As you can see below, Robertson has declared up to £10,000 in payments from Westminster Parliamentary Research, which is run by Bryant-Pearson. The register of secretaries’ interests shows Robertson then sponsored Bryant-Pearson for a parliamentary pass:

Robertson has been approached for comment. This ain’t the last you’ve heard of this one, it stinks…

Pro-EU Lobbyist in Heart of Whitehall

A key figure from the ‘remain in EU’ campaign has been given unique access to the heart of Whitehall ahead of the referendum. Guido can reveal that the Campaign Director for the Business for New Europe group, Lucy Thomas, was allowed to go ‘on secondment’ to the Department of Health’s HQ last year. According to Thomas’ LinkedIn CV, the role also included work at the Cabinet Office, though she now claims it was limited only to the Department of Health. Sources suggest the placement was organised with by the puppet-master of UK Europhilia, the mega-rich lobbyist Roland Rudd. Arch-Europhile Rudd is famously close to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt…

Lucy’s CV is hardcore Europhile; LibDem, BBC, Business for New Europe, Whitehall, then back to Business for New Europe as the Campaign Director.

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When she was at the BBC in 2008 she won the European Parliament’s Prize for Journalism – demonstrating once again the BBC’s famed “impartiality” on Europe. Strangely she has no previous campaigning experience…

Guido has requested details of outside secondments from all departments under the Freedom of Information Act. Of the departments which responded, no staff from the various EU ‘leave’ campaigns have been on secondment. The revelation is reminiscent of the row caused in 2013 by Guido’s story revealing Prince Charles’ “spy” on secondment in the Cabinet Office, which made front page news at the time. Thomas says:

“My six-month stint working to raise the awareness of dementia and the need to speed up the search for a cure was neither policy-related or anything at all to do with the EU.”

On a day when Downing Street is trying to look neutral on Europe, it’s suspicious that a government department has been handing out cushy Whitehall placements to the Campaign Director of the pro-EU campaign… it is not what you know, it is who you know…

Burnham’s Big Pharma Fudge

You might have thought the Shadow Health Secretary would want to have his say on the brewing Pfizer scandal, which has seen the drugs giant accused of overcharging the NHS for epilepsy treatments. Surely this is an opportunity for the Labour leadership candidate holding the health brief to stand up to those big nasty drugs corporations?

Guido has invited Burnham’s people to comment several times over the last 24 hours, but alas they did not want to give a line. Only a cynic would think that silence has anything to with Burnham’s campaign director being uber-lobbyist John Lehal, managing director at Insight Consulting Group, whose clients include… Pfizer. Pure coincidence, Guido is sure…

Cash For Influence: How a Labour Donor Killed a Bill

Guido has written previously on how Labour have let trade union donors buy influence in the House. Well, they have been caught red handed once again.

On May 29, Labour peer Baroness Turner sponsored a Private Members’ Bill seeking to reform Easter trading laws – introducing it at its first reading in the House of Lords.

The bill would have removed the prohibition on Easter trading for large shops.

Two weeks later, on the afternoon of June 16, the general secretary of the USDAW union emailed Labour peers asking them to oppose the Labour bill:

From: John Hannett

Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Subject: Please oppose the Easter Day Trading Bill – Second Reading on Friday 19th June

Dear XXXX,

As the main retail union for the UK’s 3 million shopworkers, Usdaw urges peers to oppose the Private Member’s Bill on Easter Day Trading at second reading on Friday. The UK already has the longest trading hours in Europe, with over 150 shopping hours a week, and only 2 days per year of large stores being closed – Christmas Day and Easter Day…

As the attached briefing sets out, two thirds of shopworkers are already under pressure to work on Sundays, and this pressure intensifies at busy trading times, with holidays not permitted…

For these reasons, I urge you not to support the Easter Trading Bill. 

Yours sincerely

John Hannett

General Secretary, Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive & Allied Workers)

Just three days after that email was sent to Labour peers, Baroness Turner withdrew her bill:

In the last five years, USDAW has donated over £6 million to the Labour Party. It has regularly lobbied in defence of exisiting Sunday trading laws.

A major Labour donor, which lobbies heavily on a single issue, successfuly gets a Labour bill withdrawn after lobbying Labour peers. It stinks…

CBI Step Up Pro-EU Campaign Activity

Big business Brexit scaremongers the CBI are stepping up their campaigning activity for an EU ‘Yes’ vote. The “politically independent and impartial” lobbyists are hiring a campaigns adviser on a competitive salary “to promote the CBI’s messages on Europe”. Little doubt from the advert what that message is: 

“With an in-out referendum on the UK’s EU membership now on the table, the CBI is recruiting for a Campaigns Adviser to assist with the organisation’s day-to-day work in this area… the benefits of the UK’s EU membership outweigh the costs and no alternative arrangement offers the UK a better route to future prosperity.”

Key to the job will be remembering the CBI’s farcical Scottish referendum shambles and sorting out their status as a registered campaigner this time round…

Health Lobbyists Plan to Spy on Gays and Pregnant Women

Gay people and pregnant mothers will be spied on under controversial plans drawn up by health lobby extremists. Guido has seen a copy of a report set to be released later this month by ASH, that draws up plans for a massive clamp down on the rights of the individual in regard to smoking.[…] Read the rest

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Bingle Muses on Losing Friends and Alienating People

Legend in his own lunchtime Peter Bingle must be bitterly regretting sending this most unfortunate tweet – among many – on election day. […] Read the rest

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Dorrell Exits Through Revolving Door

When Stephen Dorrell stood down as chairman of the Health select committee back in June, Guido wondered:

“Why would [he] not want to keep the coveted post, as well as the extra pay, for [his] last year in the Commons?

[…] Read the rest

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Lobbyists Claim Fallon SpAd Retained Whilst at MoD

Back in September Michael Fallon hired defence lobbyist Bill Clare to spin for him as his special adviser. The right-winger worked for Michael Howard before joining Liam Fox’s abortive bid for the Tory leadership, ending up on the side of the angels at arms manufacturers General Dynamics, eventually going on to spin for the London First group.[…] Read the rest

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Shepherd’s Buy: Tory Lobbyist Swoops for Westminster Lunch Spot

There were lamentations across Westminster when the once great lunch spot Shepherd’s shut down last year after going down the pan. Well, it’s back! With caveats. Public Affairs News reports Tory spin merchant Lionel Zetter has bought the lease and the name, saying “I want to resurrect Shepherds and take it back to its best: superb food, great service, an elegant ambience and a discreet environment”.[…] Read the rest

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Burnham ‘Owes’ Tax Efficient Lobbyist Aide £20,000

The Times and Mail are on the case of Andy Burnham’s health lobbyist aide Kevin Lee over his tax arrangements, a story Guido broke over two years ago. Readers will remember how back in 2011 this blog revealed how Lee was being paid as Burnham’s spinner not on a normal PAYE contract, but through his company, Lee Communications. […] Read the rest

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Goldsworthy Joins Lobbyists Before Losing Election

“Hanover Communications has secured the services of Liberal Democrat politician Julia Goldsworthy,” reports PR Week. The former LibDem MP turned Treasury SpAd for Danny Alexander was last heard from heralding her campaign to win back her old Cornish seat. Which is clearly not taking up all of her time.[…] Read the rest

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AstraZeneca Lobbyists Confirm Labour Relationship

“We are standing up for good jobs in Britain, not Ed Miliband’s supper club cronies” says Tory MP Henry Smith after Guido revealed Ed Miliband received thousands of pounds in donations from an AstraZeneza board member. Ed Miliband should declare his interests before he starts political meddling” Smith continues.[…] Read the rest

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