Health Lobbyist Seconded To Spin For Burnham Political Adviser and Close Friend Not Paid Directly by the Party

While Bell Pottinger lick their wounds, there’s more to Guido’s scoop yesterday about the Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, the health lobbyist and a mysterious £21,000 “loan” to his leadership election. Burnham has made the lobbyist his political adviser in murky circumstances. Guido had a wee chat this morning with Burnham’s people, who claim the loan from Kevin Lee to Andy Burnham was paid back in full in February. Nobody told the Electoral Commission this, but Guido is willing to take them at their word. For now…

You have to wonder what a former Labour Party staffer, who, as North West Coordinator, would not have been on more than £35-40,000, was doing lending Andy Burnham £20,000, when he had been until very recently a Minister of the Crown earning well over £120,000. Odd…

Labour told the Sun on the record: “Kevin Lee is not a health lobbyist”. Which is odd given that his website has quotes like:

“Kevin worked with NHS Southwark to design and deliver our biggest ever consultation. Developing a strategy for primary and community care for the next 10 years, we wanted to make sure we understood the priorities and concerns of a real cross section of the community. Kevin’s knowledge and understanding of both research and the NHS was invaluable and contributed significantly to very successful exercise.” – Jonathan McShane, Head of Communications, NHS Southwark”

Sounds like a health lobbyist to Guido…

Lee Communications apparently doesn’t have any health clients at the moment. But, again, we are asked to take Burnham’s staffer’s word on that. Who would dare suggest that a lobbyist would big themselves up to make them sound more important than they really are. Has anyone else seen any other examples of this sort of behaviour today? 

When Guido pointed out that unlike other Labour Senior Political Advisers, Kevin Lee has not declared in the Register of Members’ Staff Interests that he is employed by the Labour Party, the answer came that he is not. Instead of having him on the staff, his company, Lee Communications, are contracted by the Party to provide services for Burnham. This again seems unnecessarily muddy, especially given these advisers are paid for by taxpayer funded “Short Money”.

So to recap we now know that the Labour “NHS Not For Sale” Party have contracted a lobbying firm, with previous and possibly current financial interests in health to work for their Shadow Health team.  Burnham’s people are still looking into how Lee was appointed, where the job was advertised, what the due-process was and how many others were interviewed for the post. Guido’s given them pretty much all morning to answer…

Would something by the end of lunch be too much to ask?




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Quote of the Day

IDS responds to Juncker’s pints analogy earlier:

“Mr Juncker knows a little bit more about the bar than perhaps many of us do.”

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