Tory People’s Vote Campaign Using Undeclared Lobbyists

The Tory People’s Vote campaign, ‘Right to Vote’, has not exactly been a roaring success since it launched in January, despite being awash with undeclared dark money. Under electoral law, Right to Vote qualify as a members association, like Momentum, and are therefore required to declare any donations over £7,500, even outside election periods. Guido understands that the Electoral Commission will be meeting Right to Vote to remind them of their reporting obligations under electoral law…

Now Guido has learned that Right to Vote have also been engaging the services of lobbyists without declaring them to Parliament. Guido understands that lobbyists Interel Group have been engaged by Right to Vote, with Interel’s Katherine Morgan – a former Treasury civil servant who also worked for the European Commission – working on their behalf. Right to Vote are also engaging the services of Howard Bowden, who is listed as the media contact on their site. Bowden is a freelance PR and former Head of News for now disgraced PR firm Bell Pottinger…

Under Parliamentary rules, MPs receiving support from a lobbying company need to declare this as a donation to the relevant Register of Interests, and check that the donor is a permissible donation with the Electoral Commission. Neither Right to Vote Chairman Phillip Lee nor any of his fellow Right to Vote MPs have declared their use of lobbyists…

What Phillip Lee has declared are two donations in kind from The Common Sense Collective Ltd in the form of “services to assist with media and communications”, to the tune of £7,860. However, these donations appear to be impermissible as their most recent records at Companies House show that Common Sense Collective is a dormant company.

Under electoral law a dormant company cannot make a political donation – it must be registered at Companies House and carrying on business in the UK. Unless Common Sense Collective have resumed trading without yet informing Companies House, Lee will have accepted impermissible donations and will need to forfeit their value to the Electoral Commission…

Right to Vote are certainly not short of cash, just last month they sent a first-class mailshot to every Tory Association Chairman in the country asking them pressure their MPs into support a Brexit “timeout”. Each letter was personalised for every individual constituency, including specific constituency-level voodoo polling from dark money-hungry anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain. The vast array of second referendum campaigns are all flush with buckets of cash from anonymous donors and corporations, yet Guido cannot remember the last time a single broadcaster challenged a Remainer over the source of their funding…

UPDATE: A spokesman for Interel Group tells Guido: “Some colleagues worked with the Right to Vote campaign for two weeks earlier this year. We took the decision to end this. We did not receive any payment and we have declared this in the Public Affairs Board Register as pro bono activity”. Even if it’s pro bono work Lee should still have declared it himself as a donation in kind…


Seen Elsewhere

Judges Rule Boris Right About £350m Judges Rule Boris Right About £350m