Lobbyist eases his way into the corridors of power

Commons access: Row over prized passes shows how advisers hope to gain influence for clients
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The Independent Online

Westminster Correspondent

Barry Joseph is well-known in the defence lobbying industry. Operating as a one-man band, he gives an office address in Lamb Street, near Liverpool Street station in the City.

Clients include British Aerospace, Racal and Rolls-Royce, who are at present bidding for billion-pound government contracts.

As a parliamentary adviser, Mr Joseph would be expected to brief the companies on developments at Westminster likely to affect their businesses, to keep them informed of intelligence gleaned from ministers, officials and political journalists and to press their case.

A key part of a lobbyist's work is gaining access to ministers and MPs able to influence key decisions. Having entry to the Commons and being able to rub shoulders with ministers, MPs and journalists would be a key selling-point for any political adviser.

This is not the first time the system of granting Commons passes has been questioned. People applying for passes are security-vetted by the office of the Serjeant-at-Arms. In 1987, a research assistant to a left- wing Labour MP had his pass withdrawn for being a suspected IRA sympathiser.

In 1989, Pamela Bordes, a former model, was found to have a research assistant's pass provided by a Tory MP and Dale Campbell-Savours, MP for Workington, complained security passes were being handed round "like confetti".

A Tory MP last year withdrew his research assistant's pass after he was charged with distributing paedophile literature.

Racal is part of a consortium competing for the pounds 2bn defence field telecommunications order, expected to be announced this summer. A Racal spokesman said that Mr Joseph was "retained as a parliamentary communications consultant. He is a consultant to us as he is to other people".

Asked if Mr Joseph was working on the field telecoms order, the Racal spokesman replied: "DFTS is a project we're bidding for. Barry Joseph is aware of that as an adviser to us." The Racal spokesman said that as far as he knew, Mr Joseph operated from the Commons. "He works for himself in the House of Commons."

British Aerospace was advised by Mr Joseph on last year's ferocious contest for the new army attack helicopter. BAe is now pitching for three Government missile orders, together worth pounds 2bn. A BAe spokesman said that Mr Joseph was employed as "an overall consultant."

In the register of interests of MPs' research assistants Mr Joseph declares "occasionalwork for BAe and Rolls-Royce".