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
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living