Tuesday 6 December 2011

MPs call for lobbyists register after Bureau of Investigative Journalism's undercover reports

MPs will be urged to back calls for a statutory register of commercial lobbyists with access to Parliament following the undercover reporting by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, BBC News says today.

It comes after Bureau reporters taped political lobbyists boasting about their connections with the Government and showed their willingness to work for notorious regimes. (See post below).

Labour MP John Cryer will introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill demanding change.

The government has said it plans to launch a consultation on statutory regulation of lobbying "shortly", with legislation introduced next year, in the second session of Parliament.

Labour is calling for the government to make an urgent Commons statement on the issue of lobbying.

The BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said they were also expected to write to Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell to ask him to investigate.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said the investigation had raised "very serious allegations".

Lord Bell, chairman of Bell Pottinger's parent company Chime Communications, told the Independent, which published the Bureau's investigation this morning: "The conduct of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism does not remotely constitute responsible journalism. It is an attempt by unethical, underhand deception to manufacture a story where none exists."

Lord Bell told the Press Association the firm would be making a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission on the grounds that there was "no public interest in this story".

The Independent is planning run more of the Bureau's revelations tomorrow, including: "The Lib Dem connection and how lobbyists infiltrated Britain's top think tank."

  • The Bureau of Investigative Journalism is a not for profit organisation based at City University, London.

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