Undercover Investigation Day 2

No. 10 changes its tone over lobbyists

Policy influenced 'where we think they have legitimate concerns'

Downing Street has now admitted that lobbyists do influence government policy "where we think they have legitimate concerns" - changing its response on the lobbying controversy, which ignited this week following undercover reporting by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism published in The Independent.

When The Independent contacted No 10 on Monday night, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister insisted that "it is simply not true that Bell Pottinger or indeed any other lobbying company has any influence on government policy" - leading to questions as to why large firms would spend hundreds of millions of pounds on lobbyists if they had no effect.

This line was repeated yesterday by the Prime Minister's spokesman.

But he later told reporters: "Of course, occasionally lobbyists talk to Government, the CBI often talks to the Department for Business or the Treasury and individual companies with interests talk to Government and raise concerns with us.

"We listen to their concerns and where we think they have legitimate concerns and we can help we try to do so."

He added: "That's what you would expect us to do. Most people would think if the Prime Minister is raising these issues with foreign governments with the intention of improving our trade relationships, that would be a good thing to do."

The Independent today revealed the extent of Bell Pottinger's claimed connections and influence across British political life on behalf of its clients.

Recordings of senior executives speaking to undercover reporters from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism – posing as Uzbek business representatives – reveal that the company:

* Claimed they could arrange meetings with the special adviser to Vince Cable as the best way to get to the "cantankerous" Business Secretary;

* Told the reporters that Bell Pottinger had close relations with a Foreign Office minister, Alistair Burt, a Business minister and the chairman of the Defence Select Committee;

* Told clients not to give money to political parties because it was "becoming counter-productive".

The Independent also reveals today how lobbyists working for another London public relations firm said they could create an internet "attack site" for the government of Rwanda over accusations it had been involved in genocide.

It will add to significant concerns that the absence of regulation has made London the global centre for "reputation laundering", where lobbyists work behind the scenes on behalf of the world's most controversial regimes.

Yesterday, in the wake of The Independent's revelations, the Government faced calls from Tory, Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs to reform the secretive lobbying system and create a register of lobbyist interests. In a poll of 115 MPs, almost two-thirds agreed that a statutory register would help the democratic process, while 13 per cent who said it would not.

The Conservative backbencher Jesse Norman said lobbying was a "canker on the body politic", adding: "There is a huge need for greater transparency and integrity and honesty."

Related links
* Lobbyists - full related links

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
* thebureauinvestigates.com

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future