The Attack on Sleaze: Major 'did not meet' lobby firm

Angela Rumbold, a deputy chairman of the Tory Party, sought yesterday to defend her connection - severed this week - with the lobbying firm that helped to secure a key international rail station at Ebbsfleet, Kent.

As Labour claimed that Dame Angela's resignation from Decision Makers, the lobbyists, amounted to an admission of a conflict of interest, Downing Street confirmed that Mr Major had met Ebbsfleet campaigners - probably from the firm - at a 'social occasion'.

But the Prime Minister's Office insisted that there had been no private meeting between the lobbyists with Mr Major. It said that in any case Mr Major had taken no part in the decision to locate the terminal in Ebbsfleet rather than Stratford, east London. Although the issue of locating the station has been a matter of intense political discussion for several years, Downing Street said it had been left to 'other ministers to take it forward'.

Brian Wilson, for Labour, called for an early statement from Mr Major 'on just how much influence' Dame Angela wielded 'in advance of the Ebbsfleet decision, with its enormous financial implications'.

And Tony Banks, MP for Nehwam North, complained last night that Dame Angela's connection with the company gave the Ebbsfleet campaigners an unfair advantage over those campaigning for Stratford, because of her easy access to political decision-makers.

Mr Wilson said he would be seeking an explanation of why Blue Circle, a client of Decision Makers and one of the contenders for the Channel link station, had numerous opportunities to present their case to Cabinet ministers while Newham council was only given access to a few junior ministers in the fight to have the station at Stratford.

Dame Angela pointed out yesterday that her interest in Decision Makers had been registered and insisted that she had nothing to hide.

She said: 'The only reason why I took the step that I took was not because of myself, because I have no problems at all, but because I did not wish the company for whom I was working to have themselves dragged into some unpleasant dog-fight with the press or with anybody else.'

Dame Angela insisted that her job as party deputy chairman was 'very strictly confined to the management of the selection of candidates and the management of the list. I have no other responsibility and it's a purely voluntary job'.

The chairman of Decision Makers, Maureen Tomison, said that when the firm had been campaigning for the international passenger station at Ebbsfleet 'Dame Angela was not involved in using her access for us to see ministers and we do not know where this story has come from'.

Jack Straw, the shadow Home Secretary, yesterday called for assurances that three senior national officers of the Tory party should give 'categorical assurances' that they had not 'abused their own positions' on behalf of commercial interests. He said the assurances should be given by John Maples, a former MP and a party deputy chairman who was in charge of Saatchi and Saatchi's government relations business. Another vice-chairman, Patrick Nicholls, has a large number of consultancies. Graham Bright, another party vice-chairman, has declared consultancies with clients including Safeway.

Leading article, page 12 (Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
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

Recruitment Genius: International Trade Advisors - Hertfordshire or Essex

£30000 - £35379 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is based in Welwyn ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Controller - Response Centre

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Resource and Recruitment Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Resource and Recruitment Manage...

Recruitment Genius: Junior IT Support Technician

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn