15th May 2009
Lobbying Industry Bodies Publish Joint Consultation Paper on Forming Public Affairs Council
A joint Working Party formed by the APPC, PRCA and the CIPR , together with senior independent figures from outside the industry, launched earlier in May a consultation on the possible creation of a Public Affairs Council. The Working Party has met three times since February to look into the future of industry self-regulation in response to the January Public Administration Select Committee’s report on lobbying, which called upon the industry to develop a new 'umbrella body'. An Issues Paper was also published on 7 May, inviting comments on issues such as a definition of lobbying, the purpose of the an umbrella grouping, a common register and code of conduct including possible sanctions. The consultation is open for response until Friday 5th June. The Working Party is due to meet shortly afterwards to consider a joint response from all the groups, and a final report is expected over the summer. A workshop will be held to discuss the Issues Paper at 4pm on Tuesday 19th May at the CIPR offices at 52-53 Russell Square (London, WC1B 4HP) to which all interested parties are invited to attend. Details about how to attend the Workshop can be found here.
15th May 2009
Labour Hammered in Opinion Poll
A YouGov survey for The Sun newspaper shows the Conservatives on 41%, Labour on 22% and the Liberal Democrats on 19%. A general election repeat result would see David Cameron take office with a 152 majority. Labour has fallen nine points in just one week.
15th May 2009
Tory MP Resigns Cameron-Aide Post over Expenses Claims
Conservative MP for Bracknell, Andrew MacKay, has resigned as David Cameron's Senior Parliamentary and Political Advisor following expense claims which the Party called "an unacceptable situation that would not stand up to reasonable public scrutiny". MacKay is married to fellow Tory MP Julie Kirkbride. MacKay is understood to have claimed his second homes allowance on a jointly owned London flat, while Kirkbride claimed through her additional costs allowance paying off the loan on their family home near her constituency. The Sun newspaper writes that "Since 2001, the pair are believed to have pocketed £280,000. Mr MacKay may now have to pay back £140,000". MacKay said “As senior adviser to David Cameron who has been involved with the very tough work we’ve been doing with MP’s expenses, I was one of the first to volunteer to submit my claims and receipts to internal party examiners...They came back...to say that they felt my claim was not within the bounds of what would be considered reasonable..I had a phone conversation with David Cameron where I said I wished to resign from the job, he said he thought that was the right thing to do". The MP has said he will answer to his constituents saying “I accept there will be some people who will be angry but that’s why I intend to hold a public meeting next week". Speaking to the Bracknell Forest Standard he said "“No I don’t have a home in the constituency, that’s the whole point. And I’ve never claimed that I have, that’s a matter of public record".
14th May 2009
Suspension Recommended for Two Labour Lords
The House of Lords Committee for Privileges has published the report investigating allegations of non-compliance by four Members of the House with the Code of Conduct. The Committee considered a report from the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests concerning the conduct of Lord Moonie, Lord Snape, Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn. The investigation arose out of allegations made against the four Members in The Sunday Times in January this year. Concerning Lord Truscott, the report concluded that "The Sub-Committee describe the evidence against Lord Truscott as "so clear and so plentiful" as to leave no doubt that he had breached the Code. We agree. His remarks about his relationship with the minister, John Healey MP, his stated willingness to "smooth the way" with other Members or "coach" them, and many other examples, show clearly that in order to secure a lucrative consultancy he was willing at the very least to hold out the prospect that he would be willing and able to exercise improper parliamentary influence" and regarding Lord Taylor of Blackburn that " We..uphold the finding of the Sub-Committee that Lord Taylor of Blackburn, in his conversations with the undercover journalists, failed to act on his personal honour, in breach of paragraph 4(b) of the Code of Conduct". The Committee has recommended that Lord Taylor of Blackburn and Lord Truscott be "suspended from the service of the House until the end of the current session of Parliament". Lord Strathclyde, Leader of the Conservative Party in the House, said it was “a bleak day in the history of the Lords”, stressing that “The law must never be for sale to those with the money to buy it - and there must be no suspicion in public minds that it ever could be. That is why I support these findings and will ask the House of Lords to back these sentences next Wednesday”.
14th May 2009
Morley Suspended from Parliamentary Labour Party
Elliot Morley has been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party. The action against the former agriculture Minister has been taken following Telegraph revelations that the Scunthorpe MP claimed £16,000 in expenses for an additional 18 months on a mortgage that had already been paid off in 2006.
11th May 2009
Apologies from Brown & Cameron over Expenses
Apologies have been forthcoming from both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition over recent revelations from The Daily Telegraph over MP expenses. The newspaper has revealed claims made to the taxpayer that include stamp duty, changing lightbulbs, dog food and tennis court repairs. Speaking at the Royal College of Nursing conference in Harrogate today, Gordon Brown said "I want to apologies on behalf of politicians, on behalf of all parties, for what has happened in the events of these last few days". Speaking about the latest revelations over Conservative expenses claims, David Cameron said in a BBC interview "what I want is for Conservative MPs, as with other MPs, to come out and explain why they claimed what they claimed, to admit to any mistakes if there have been mistakes and collectively to say. Look, this system was wrong....we need a big acknowledgement that we're sorry that this happened and it needs to change".
7th May 2009
No charges to be pursued over Labour Party donations
The Crown Prosecution Service has said that there is insufficient evidence to lay charges over the incorrect declaration of donations to the Labour Party, concerning registered Party treasurers David Triesman, Matthew Carter and Peter Watt. CPS Special Crime Division lawyer Stephen O'Doherty said "After taking advice from counsel and discussing the difficulties with the police I concluded that there was not a realistic prospect of securing a conviction". The CPS lawyer stated "After a detailed police investigation, I have considered what possible offences may have been committed and whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction of any individuals for any of these offences...As has been documented, this case concerned donations made by David Abrahams to the Labour Party which he made through third parties because he wished to remain anonymous. These donations were made between 2003 and 2007 and amounted to around £600,000 through 19 separate donations...In this case, the true donor was Mr Abrahams and not those who acted as a conduit for the donations. However the reports signed by the registered treasurers who were Lord Triesman, Mr Carter and Mr Watt at the relevant times, incorrectly showed the donations as coming from those others instead of from Mr Abrahams. This forms the basis of the offence and is the primary element required to be proved to establish a realistic prospect of conviction. Lord Triesman and Mr Carter denied knowing Mr Abrahams was the source of the donations. Mr Watt said that he became aware that Mr Abrahams was the source but was led to believe that Mr Abrahams had 'gifted' the money to the conduits".
7th May 2009
Morgan Announced as COI Associate Director of News and PR
The Central Office of Information (COI) has appointed Vivien Morgan as an Associate Director of News and PR. Morgan will provide high level PR advice on campaigns, and assumes operational responsibility for the COI London, South East and East England regions together with the in-house PR team. Morgan most recently held the post of Communications Director at the South East England Development Agency. COI Director of News and PR, Neil Martinson said "Vivien's broadcast experience and her background in PR and a regional agency reinforces the range of expertise we have to call on to drive in-house and out of house services".
30th April 2009
Labour's Commons defeat by LibDem Motion over Gurhka residency rights
The Labour Government has suffered its first Commons defeat during Gordon Brown's tenure as Prime Minister, on the issue of Gurkha residency rights. Backed by Conservatives and Labour rebels, a Liberal Democrat motion was voted through by MPs by 267 to 246. The defeat is only the fourth since labour took office in 1997. Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, said "This is a historic victory for the Gurkhas who have served our country so bravely". Conservative spokesman Damian Green said in Chamber "The House of Commons spoke, and spoke clearly-it told the Government that their attitude to the Gurkhas was unfair, ungenerous, and unacceptable. The Opposition parties and brave members of the Labour Party came together to speak and vote on behalf of the Gurkhas and their families. These are people to whom we owe a huge debt of honour, and it reflects well on this House that we have collectively recognised that debt". Minister for Borders and Immigration, Phil Woolas said that the Government "will come forward with proposals for the next stage of our reform of the rules, to ensure that the Government continue to deliver a fair outcome for ex-Gurkhas and their families. We will publish this next stage before the summer recess". Read the full exchange here
28th April 2009
Vodafone UK appoints Campbell as new Legal and Government Affairs Director
Vodafone UK has announced the appointment of Justine Campbell as Legal and Government Affairs Director, she will join the company on 1st July, replacing Jonathan McCoy who becomes Vodafone Group Deputy General Counsel. Campbell has over 10 years experience in the telecommunications industry, most recently as General Counsel and a Director on the Telefonica Europe Board.