Deal that broke down after request for Blunkett was rejected

A LEADING left-of-centre think-tank was asked to try to secure David Blunkett's presence at a public meeting during negotiations over a pounds 20,000 education project, it was claimed last night.

The allegation came as the extent of links between Labour and the lobbying industry were uncovered by The Independent. Not only does almost every major political consultancy now employ staff with close links to Labour, but the party's fundraisers have been wooing lobbyists to milk sponsorship from their clients.

The request to bring the Secretary of State for Education into the launch of a joint project between the Fabian Society and the Edexcel Foundation exam board was made by a lobbyist who used to work for Labour.

Paul Wheeler, who at the time worked for a firm called the Public Policy Unit, was helping to negotiate a project including educational research, a series of seminars and an essay competition. However, when he asked the Fabian Society's senior officials if they could secure Mr Blunkett's presence at a public launch with Sir Michael Lickiss, Chairman of Edexcel, the answer was "no".

A Fabian source said last night: "We told them, 'We can't guarantee Blunkett. We are not in that game, and we can't do it anyway." The deal had broken down for a number of reasons including the non-involvement of Mr Blunkett, he added.

The Fabian Society has recently issued funding guidelines to its supporters which state: "The Fabian Society's work frequently involves ministers, advisers or senior Labour Party personnel ... We do not provide access to such figures simply in return for funding. We are not a lobbying organisation.'

Last night, Mr Wheeler said the pounds 20,000 grant had never been contingent on Mr Blunkett's presence. Nor had the collapse of the deal been due to that aspect. "There were a whole range of people's names mentioned. David Blunkett might have been one of them but I don't think that was very practical and we weren't saying that if David Blunkett doesn't come we are not doing it."

In a letter to Edexcel, the Fabians' general secretary Michael Jacobs said he felt the amount of work involved was not commensurate with the level of sponsorship and the seminar subjects needed more rigorous definition.

Gordon Tempest-Hay, head of corporate affairs for the Edexcel Foundation, said it had no need to offer money to meet ministers. "We have regular day-to-day contact with the frontbench team. If David Blunkett had got involved and had been there, that would have been great, but at no stage did we say 'We must have David Blunkett standing under an Edexcel banner'," he said.

A senior figure in the lobbying business said last night that the involvement of ministers in deals was common practice. Although most lobbyists would never be so crude as to specifically offer money for a meeting or appearance, the link would be implicit, he said.

"It is like sponsoring any conference. You only want to sponsor it if you can get good people coming."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee