Dowden Confirms Loosening of ACoBA Rules on Columns and TV Appearances

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has written to ACoBA Chair Lord Pickles over Boris Johnson’s minor breach of ACoBA rules over the summer, when the former PM picked up a new column in the Daily Mail. He was found to have breached the watchdog’s rules on former ministers’ appointments by seeking advice on the role half an hour before it was announced online. Even Pickles himself agreed this was a minor breach, and said the rules themselves were in need of immediate reform…

Dowden agrees, and confirmed the government will push ahead with proposals to loosen rules over media appearances:

“…the Government is minded that media appearances, books or journalism should in due course be formally exempted from the business appointment rules (whilst still maintaining duty of confidentiality requirements). This recognises also the importance of the rights to free speech within the law. This ‘minded to’ approach is therefore guiding in the assessment of appropriate steps on this particular issue.”

No further action is being taken against Boris. He’s making the rules and breaking them…

Read the full letter below:

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mdi-timer 21 September 2023 @ 10:23 21 Sep 2023 @ 10:23 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
ACoBA Warns Kwarteng of Lobbying Rules Over Energy Firm Appointment

ACoBA (Advisory Committee on Business Appointments) Chair Lord Pickles has written to Kwasi Kwarteng over his potential new role at green energy company FFI, warning the former Chancellor that his appointment as a paid ‘senior adviser’ poses “real and perceived risks” that it might “provide an unfair advantage” to the firm. Kwarteng met with FFI leaders while still in Ministerial office, although the Committee have decided his ability to offer an unfair advantage is limited… provided he accepts the following conditions:

  • a waiting period of 12 months from your last day in ministerial office;
  • you should not draw on (disclose or use for the benefit of yourself or the persons or organisations to which this advice refers) any privileged information available to you from your time in ministerial office;
  • for two years from your last day in ministerial office, you should not become personally involved in lobbying the UK government or its arms’ length bodies on behalf of Fortescue Future Industries (including parent companies, subsidiaries, partners and clients); nor should she make use, directly or indirectly, of her contacts in the government to influence policy, secure business/funding or otherwise unfairly advantage Fortescue Future Industries (including parent companies, subsidiaries, partners and clients);
  • for two years from your last day in ministerial office, you should not advise Fortescue Future Industries (including parent companies, subsidiaries, partners and clients) on the UK energy sector;
  • for two years from your last day in ministerial office, you should not have any engagement on behalf of Fortescue Future Industries (including parent companies, subsidiaries, partners and clients) with the UK government or its arm’s length bodies; and
  • for two years from your last day in ministerial service, you should not provide advice to Fortescue Future Industries (including parent companies, subsidiaries, partners and clients) on the terms of, or with regard to the subject matter of, a bid with, or contract relating directly to the work of the UK government or its arm’s length bodies.

Read the full letter below:

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mdi-timer 30 August 2023 @ 17:30 30 Aug 2023 @ 17:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Cabinet Office Minister: Sue Gray Broke ACoBA Rules

Paymaster General and Cabinet Office Minister Jeremy Quin has slammed Sue Gray’s appointment as Starmer’s Chief of Staff, claiming her nomination may have breached ACoBA rules:

“The rules state that approval must be obtained prior to a job offer being announced. The Cabinet Office has not as yet been informed that the relevant notification to ACoBA has been made.”

He added it was an “exceptional and unprecedented” appointment that threatens the integrity of the Civil Service. In total, it appears four separate rules have been breached. Angela Rayner is immediately claiming this is some kind of “conspiracy“, and there’s nothing to see here. No wonder Starmer was so evasive this morning…

mdi-timer 6 March 2023 @ 15:55 6 Mar 2023 @ 15:55 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Boris Rakes In £2.48 Million from New Speaking Fee Payment

The latest register of interest updates show Boris has raked in an eye-watering £2,488,387.53 from the Harry Walker speaking agency for future speaker appearances. He adds that he consulted ACoBA on the arrangement.

Clearly still a box office winner…

mdi-timer 8 February 2023 @ 12:52 8 Feb 2023 @ 12:52 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Dowden: No Further Punishment For Hancock’s Rule-Breaking Jungle Romp

Now that the dust has settled on Matt Hancock’s jungle romp, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden has written to ACoBA Chair Lord Pickles to offer the final word on the former Health Secretary’s testicle-eating rule-breaking. In a new letter published last night, Dowden agreed that Hancock had breached Business Appointment Rules by “failing to seek the Committee’s advice” before jetting off to Australia:

I agree that undertaking a series of short-term appearances on the assumption they constitute ‘one-off’ engagements should not be used as means of not complying with the Rules. It is vital that all individuals who have held Ministerial positions are seen to abide by the requirement to seek advice about any appointments or employment they wish to take up within two years of leaving office.

He did, however, add that Matt’s newfound celebrity was a low-risk gig, so similar applications to the Committee in future should be “streamlined“. Good news for any other MPs who fancy bathing in cockroaches. He signed off by saying Hancock had suffered enough, and no further punishment would be necessary…

“Due to the highly visible nature of the roles and minimal risks to the integrity of government, we agree with the Committee’s advice that further action would be disproportionate in this case.”

Hancock’s spokesperson said:

“Matt’s glad they are now changing the ACOBA rules after the total muddle they got themselves into. Matt clearly followed the rules when he went into the jungle, as any cursory glance at their website demonstrates. The idea there’s a business conflict going onto the programme is absurd. Now they’re updating the rules to make that completely clear, not a moment too soon.”

Just in time for SAS: Who Dares Wins…

Read Dowden’s full letter below:

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mdi-timer 22 December 2022 @ 08:58 22 Dec 2022 @ 08:58 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
ACoBA, Boris And The Speaker Circuit – He’s Compliant (Now)

The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) have published Lord Pickles’ letter to Boris, revealing the committee gave Boris permission to join the élite Harry Walker Agency back in September. The decision paved the way for him to rake in the dough with lucrative speaking engagements – provided he waited the standard three months between leaving office and accepting the first gig. A condition which he, erm, didn’t quite stick to…

“The Committee does not consider joining a speaking agency raises any particular concerns under the government’s Business Appointment Rules, provided it is subject to standard conditions which prevent improper use of information and influence […] It is an individual’s responsibility to manage the propriety of the specific pieces of work undertaken. In particular, as the former Prime Minister, you must be careful not to offer any unfair insight as a result of your access to information and potential influence in government…” 

Boris’s team claimed the speeches he performed within the three-month waiting period were above board because they were “one-offs“. In any case, probation’s now over, and Boris is free to bring in the big bucks. If you want to hire him, here’s his profile. Better start saving up…

mdi-timer 7 December 2022 @ 17:04 7 Dec 2022 @ 17:04 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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