Owen Smith has hired a leading corporate lobbyist who works for Pfizer to run his leadership campaign, Guido can reveal. John Lehal is the smoothie MD of lobbying firm Insight Consulting, and boasts among his clients Big Pharma giants Pfizer, Novartis and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Lehal’s dealings sparked controversy when he was signed up to run Andy Burnham’s doomed leadership bid last year. Smith used to spin for Pfizer himself and has been dogged by his links to lobbyists over the last week, so it’s a stunning judgment call for him to be using another Pfizer lobbyist who loves Tony Blair:
John Lehal declined several opportunities to comment. A spokesman for Owen Smith doesn’t deny Lehal is working on the campaign:
“The campaign is still in the process of being set up and no formal paid appointments have yet been made. We expect to be able to finalise staff details at a later date.”
Owen Smith is the Blairite former Big Pharma lobbyist whose campaign is being run by a Blairite Big Pharma lobbyist. Too easy for the Corbynistas…
UPDATE: Smith’s team have now confirmed Lehal will be their Chief of Operations. He’s also signed up Corbyn’s former policy chief Neale Coleman.
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…