Exclusive: Burnham’s Adviser and £170,000 of NHS Cash

The Department of Health was forced to apologise last night after it was revealed that 25 of their civil servants were paid via limited companies in what looks like a Whitehall-wide tax-dodge. This one is going to play and play, Guido imagines there are plenty of mandarins fretting about their accounting today. And BBC news presenters…

Normally you would expect the opposition to be leaping on a story like this, yet Andy Burnham is silent. Could that be because his senior advisor Kevin Lee uses a similar payment structure? As Guido reported in December, Lee is not paid directly by Labour Party HQ, he is instead paid via Lee Communications & Public Affairs Ltd. Assurances were given when Guido first started digging that Lee is no longer lobbying, or “consulting” as he was so keen to put it. If that is the case then why does he need to be paid through the company?

And that’s not the only awkward question Guido has for Andy and Kevin this morning…

When we revealed that Lee had been taken on in murky circumstances, Guido got FoIing. There were some awkward questions; firstly about at £20,000 loan Lee had given Burnham’s abortive leadership campaign, then the fact that the job had not been advertised publicly and there is no evidence that Kevin Lee had declared his own interests in the NHS and how he had made his money. Lee went to ground and Burnham refused to shed any light on whether due process had been followed.

We can now reveal that Lee worked on private projects which have cost the NHS at least £170,000. Though he set up the lobbying firm Lee Communications just one month after Andy Burnham became Health Secretary in 2009, Lee was previously a director of Vision 21. Despite telling Guido today that he’d never been “a health lobbyist”, Lee’s CV claims he was “responsible for establishing a Public Affairs portfolio” there. FoIs show that whilst Lee was at Vision 21, the NHS cash was flowing in. Including £92,486 from the East of England SHA, and £77,000 from NHS Southwark. Lee explicitly denies any contact with Andy Burnham whilst he was Health Secretary.

None of this information was made available when Lee was quietly put on to Burnham’s staff and Guido can see no evidence that it was taken into account. While Burnham moans about the death of the NHS due to privatisation, we revealed that his closest aide and campaign donor was a director of a company that made a six-figure sum from private NHS work. Lee is still claiming this morning that there was no need to declare this and there were no plans to ever make this public.




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Quote of the Day

Jo Swinson on Chris Rennard…

“Vince — and Tim before him — have repeatedly, publicly said Rennard is not welcome anywhere near their frontbench team, even as an adviser. I remain deeply frustrated that he was not expelled from the party through its disciplinary process. It just feels wrong, and I do not want Lord Rennard to continue as a member of the party. As far as I am concerned, he is not welcome.”

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