politics

Lobbying firms hand almost £2m to political parties – including a cabinet minister


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As well as paying MPs as advisors, analysis found least 23 firms listed on the official lobbying register, or their directors, have donated to political parties or MPs since the register was set up in 2015

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis

Lobbying firms have handed almost two million pounds to political parties and MPs – including a cabinet minister – the Sunday Mirror can reveal.

As well as paying MPs as advisors, analysis found least 23 firms listed on the official lobbying register, or their directors, have donated to political parties or MPs since the register was set up in 2015.

They include Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, who has accepted £16,000 from lobbying firm Avre Partnership.

In total, Avre and its directors have handed almost £100,000 to the Tories and Tory MPs.

The official register lists as their only client tech firm CityFibre, which is among the firms bidding to upgrade the UK’s broadband infrastructure.

The Lib Dems received the most individual party, with £828,340 – although the majority of it from anti-Brexit campaign group Best For Britain, whose board contains a number major party donors .

The Conservative Party accepted £744,508 in cash and sponsorship, with Labour accepting £145,425.

The total figure for all parties amounts to £1.7 million since 2015.








Boris Johnson is under fire from his own MPs over the botched handling of the Owen Paterson scandal
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Image:

Lee McLean/SWNS)



The figures do not include the cost of staff lent to political parties by accountancy giants including KPMG, Pricewaterhousecoopers and Deloitte – which amounts to hundreds of thousands of pounds more in non-cash donations to parties.

Sunday Mirror analysis compared data from the Register of Consultant Lobbyists, Companies House and the Electoral Commission to establish which firms and directors had been bankrolling political parties.

Of the firms on the register, the largest donors to the Conservative Party were linked to CT Solutions and Private Advisory – the PR giant founded by Australian spin doctor Lynton Crosby.

Between the firm itself and directors Geoffrey de Jager and Mark Fulbrook, the Tories accepted £320,000 in donations from 2015 to 2021.

Conservative Party co-chair Ben Elliot, gave £12,000 to the party while he was a director of London lobbying firm Hawthorne Advisory.

In total, 13 separate firms and their directors handed cash to the Tories, compared to eight for Labour and four for the Lib Dems.

All the donations were within the rules and properly declared. There’s no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the companies, parties or MPs.

A spokesperson for Brandon Lewis said: “All Brandon’s donations are fully, transparently declared and are in line with the rules.”

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “Donations to the Conservative party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with the law.”





Boris Johnson was shamed into backing moves to crack down on MPs second jobs last week, after the scale of politicians accepting cash for “advisory” jobs was laid bare.

But instead of backing Keir Starmer ’s plan, which would have banned most second jobs, Tories voted through watered-down measures which would only affect a handful of MPs.

It followed Mr Johnson’s botched attempt to save disgraced former MP Owen Paterson from a 30-day suspension over his paid lobbying of ministers and officials on behalf of private firms.



Speaking after the vote, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told broadcasters: “We put forward a plan of action to clean up politics and strengthen standards in politics.

“And if you can believe it, after two weeks of Tory sleaze and corruption, the Prime Minister whipped his MPs against that plan of action, and, frankly, he just doesn’t get it.”


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