PM 'used crony to fix nuclear power inquiry'

Government accused of driving through energy policy by using slanted study

A public consultation on new nuclear power stations which was run by a company linked to the Prime Minister's personal pollster has been criticised for breaching industry guidelines.



Environmentalists and opposition MPs denounced the exercise as "fixed" after the Market Research Standards Board said some material given to focus groups was "inaccurately or misleadingly presented".

The Conservatives accused ministers of "gerrymandering" and attack-ed them for employing Opinion Leader to run the project, a consultancy linked to Gordon Brown's personal pollster Deborah Mattinson. Opinion Leader runs the Government's citizens' juries and was awarded almost £1m of Treasury contracts when he was Chancellor. Ms Mattinson stood down as the company's joint chairman last year to work for Labour but remains a senior figure in its parent company.

The Market Research Standards Board said: "Information was inaccurately or misleadingly presented, or was imbalanced, which gave rise to a material risk of respondents being led towards a particular answer."

Greenpeace denounced the consul-tation as "a sham and an insult to the people who took part" claiming it would leave the Government's plans in disarray. Examples included focus groups being given material colouring nuclear and renewable power green, with blue for coal oil and gas.

Opinion Leader argued that the standards board was not competent to judge its methods and insisted Ms Mattinson played no part.

The ruling was the second time the Government's attempts to consult the public on new nuclear power stations faced criticism. The first consultation in 2006 had to be repeated after it was condemned by the High Court.

Greg Clark, the shadow energy minister, said: "These revelations call into question for a second time the way the Government is managing its nuclear policy. The standards watchdog for market research has decided that supposedly independent research was biased to give the answer the Government wanted." Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat energy spokesman, added: "This ruling shows that the Government isn't even competent enough to rig its own consultation. It was hardly a secret that ministers had made their decision before their first consultation on new nuclear power."

Downing Street insisted the ruling would have no bearing on Britain's nuclear power programme. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The outcome of the consultation stands, whatever the view of the Market Research Standards Board."

Viki Cooke, chief executive of Opinion Leader, said: "We do not accept the MRS ruling, which we believe to be incorrect. We do not believe that the MRS – a market research trade body – is competent to assess these new forms of deliberative engagement.

"Opinion Leader is not anybody's pet pollster. It does absolutely no political work whatsoever."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - Email Marketing Services

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are looking for a highly or...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultan...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Account Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders