Barker-watch: new developments in the latest lobbying scandal
Author: Zoe Stavri
Published on Sep 13, 2012
Yesterday, emails revealing a questionably-appropriate relationship between climate change minister Greg Barker and his adviser, energy consultant Miriam Maes came to light. They showed that Barker was granting privileged access to Maes’s clients.
More revelations are emerging. Calls have been made for Barker to come clean about the true extent of his involvement with Maes, and that Barker was given a hydrogen-powered car to travel between meetings by Air Products, one of Maes’s clients with whom Barker had several secretive meetings.
Barker and his department were also revealed to have been copying Maes into emails discussing the award of a £5million contract to an organisation that Maes’s company “works with”.
These revelations come as it has emerged that David Cameron has instructed cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood to look into the relationship between Maes and Barker, to check if the lobbyist was properly appointed as an adviser in the first place.
However, it looks like Cameron is standing behind Barker for the time being. Yesterday in Prime Minister’s Questions, he said that he had “complete confidence” in Barker, echoing his statement about Jeremy Hunt’s lobbying scandal. As Hunt is still in the cabinet, it looks like Barker won’t be going anywhere fast.
A robust statutory register of lobbyists could have alerted us to this scandal sooner, allowing us to identify anomalous behaviour and inappropriate relationships more easily. To prevent this happening again, action is needed. We’ve written to new lobbying minister Chloe Smith asking her publish proposals for a statutory register of lobbyists quickly, and to propose a register as robust as possible. Please co-sign our letter and let Ms Smith know that scandals like this must not happen again.