Lobby reform chief faces inquiry into Twitter abuse for campaigners


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Indy Politics

A civil servant in charge of plans to reform the lobbying industry faces a parliamentrary inquiry after publicly stating that she hoped a campaign group "would die".

The Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, Jon Trickett, called for the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (PCRC) to take evidence from Eirian Walsh-Atkins, who drew up a Government consultation paper on lobbying reform as part of its inquiry into industry regulation.

Ms Walsh-Atkins, the head of constitutional policy at the Cabinet Office, was suspended on Friday from her role in drawing up the lobbying reform proposals after she posted a Twitter message saying: "I wish [the campaign group] Unlock Democracy would die. I am prepared to help it along."

Last night, the PCRC chairman, Graham Allen, said he wanted to take evidence from Ms Walsh-Atkins as part of its hearings, which start on Thursday.

It was also revealed that while the civil servant met lobbying industry representatives four times before the Government published its consultation paper on the matter, she steadfastly refused to meet campaigners calling for reform.

The Independent has seen a letter from the Political Reform Minister, Mark Harper, to Tamasin Cave, of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency. It suggests that all of the interested parties were treated equally in the run-up to the consultation, despite private monthly meetings taking place between the UK Public Affairs Council (UKPAC), which represents the lobbying industry, and Ms Walsh-Atkins.

The Cabinet Office said: "The official involved has personally apologised without reservation to those concerned. This is now being dealt with through internal procedures."