A former Labour Minister is one of several peers facing calls to quit their second jobs in lobbying companies as the sleaze scandal engulfing Westminster grew last night.
Lord Myners, who was a Treasury Minister in Gordon Brown’s government, is chairman of PR giant Edelman and vice chairman of the consultancy Global Counsel.
Last night, Sir Alistair Graham, ex-chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said peers should be banned from working for lobbying companies.
Lord Myners, who was a Treasury Minister in Gordon Brown’s government, is chairman of PR giant Edelman and vice chairman of the consultancy Global Counsel
Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, pictured here in 2013 with Shirley Williams is also facing questions over his advocacy work on behalf of Facebook
Lord Myners, a former chairman of Guardian Media Group who was closely involved in Mr Brown’s response to the financial crash, was hired in 2015 to provide ‘strategic counsel’ to Edelman, which has counted Microsoft, Shell and Unilever among its clients.
He was also given a role at Global Counsel, a consultancy founded by Labour ex-Minister Lord Mandelson, which has advised governments and BP, and has forged controversial links with China’s government.
The company says on its website that it helps clients ‘see opportunities in politics, regulation and public policy’.
He declined to clarify how much time his Edelman role takes. The firm said he ‘provides advice to the UK management team. He does not advise any of Edelman’s clients nor does he lobby on their behalf’.
But Sir Alistair told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The companies who employ these peers are hoping that behind the scenes they will be able to influence Government policy in some way. That’s the reason they are paying them. It’s privileged access they’re purchasing.
‘Peers should concentrate on safeguarding the public interest rather than seeking second incomes from working for lobbyists.’
The Mail on Sunday can also reveal that Sir Nick Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister who leads lobbying for Facebook, retains a security pass allowing him access to Parliament – and only agreed to relinquish it after being contacted by this newspaper. It comes as:
- Tories hunt for spies in No 10 and Whitehall suspected of leaking information to Labour;
- David Cameron faced scrutiny for his backing of a £700 million UK-China investment fund, and attempts to lobby a German official for Greensill Capital – the firm for which he lobbied Ministers for access to Government-backed loans, triggering the lobbying firestorm;
- Lord ‘Eddie’ Lister, one of the Prime Minister’s most senior advisers, owns shares in a firm that has won nearly £1million in Government contracts since he joined Downing Street;
- The Tories accused Labour general secretary David Evans – one of Sir Keir Starmer’s closest allies – of cronyism after one of his firms won contracts worth six figures from a council where his former lover holds a top position.
- Pressure mounted on Matt Hancock as details emerged of Mr Cameron’s emails lobbying on behalf of Greensill, in which the former PM said the Health Secretary was ‘extremely positive’ about its proposals.
Lord Myners, who has not voted or spoken in the Lords since April 2019, has urged the Commons Treasury Committee to investigate Greensill.
He said Mr Cameron ‘must have been wearing very effective blinkers to have not had serious suspicions about the Greensill business. He was upfront, he was quite actively involved, and to me, the questions over Greensill’s business were quite evident within an hour or so of meeting the man’ [its founder, Lex Greensill].
Lord Myners is the latest peer to face questions over his outside interests. Baroness Fall, who was deputy chief of staff to Mr Cameron when he was Prime Minister, has a paid role at Brunswick, one of the country’s biggest lobbying firms.
She has denied lobbying politicians or civil servants on behalf of the firm’s clients.
Former PM David Cameron, pictured, is facing major questions over his dealings with Greensill and his attempts to lobby members of Boris Johnson’s government
Lord Maude, a Minister under Mr Cameron, runs a consulting firm that advises governments including Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan, alongside his seat in the Lords and his current Cabinet Office role.
Former Lib Dem leader Sir Nick, who joined Facebook in 2018, is one of about 250 former MPs with a ‘Category X’ pass, available to former members. It gives Sir Nick uncontrolled access to Parliament’s facilities, including MP-only areas.
Critics claim the passes give lobbyists ‘close access to lawmakers’, while Sir Alastair said yesterday they should be ‘totally banned’, and passholders should only be those ‘who genuinely work in the House of Commons or House of Lords’.
In government, Nick Clegg vowed to reform lobbying and bring in a ‘cleaner, better politics’ after a scandal in which MPs and peers offered Parliamentary services for money.
He said in 2013: ‘Westminster remains a place where power is hoarded, decisions are opaque and the people who take those decisions are not properly held to account. Our political system has long been crying out for head-to-toe reform.’
Other ex-MPs with Category X passes include Michael Dugher, former MP and Labour vice chairman, who is chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, which lobbies for the gambling industry.
Phil Woolas, a minister under Brown and Tony Blair and quit Parliament in 2010, still has a pass while working for consultants that ‘advise on Government and Parliament policies’.
Facebook said: ‘Sir Nick has never used his pass since he joined Facebook and would be happy to return it.’
Pressure is mounting to tighten lobbying rules and links between Ministers, officials, peers and firms following revelations about Mr Cameron’s lobbying for Greensill Capital.
Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak demanding answers to 21 questions about Greensill, including his own communications with Mr Cameron.