The pressure the Government faces over lobbying claims has intensified today after it has emerged that a senior member of the Government’s own lobbying watchdog, Andrew Cumpsty, also runs his own lobbying firm advertising access to ministers.
Andrew Cumpsty sits on the Government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba). This is the group tasked with guarding against conflicts of interest and policing appointments of former ministers and civil servants to jobs in the private sector.
Mr Cumpsty also serves as the Chairman and founder of the Enterprise Forum, which, he says acts as a link between the leaders of UK Industry and the Conservative Party Cabinet.
According to Mr Cumpsty’s website ‘Cumptsy Communications’, the firm claims to deliver the “very best communications, stakeholder engagement, and government relations advice and support”.
Mr Clumpsy also claims on the website that his company “acts as a link between the leaders of UK Industry and the Conservative Party Cabinet”.
Mr Cumpsty, who counts housing developers amongst his firm’s clients, runs a communications company and a business lobby group that boasts of its connections to ministers and Conservative Cabinet members.
Andrew Clumpsy is the former Conservative leader of Reading Borough Council and is also the Secretariat of All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for SME House Builders. The group regularly lobbies ministers on behalf of small and medium-sized residential developers in an attempt to influence policy on the sector.
The link between Mr Cumpsty and his lobbying roles were first reported by the i Newspaper. In a phone call, Mr Cumpsty refused to comment on whether his lobbying connections meant he should step down from Acoba. He also declined to comment on any of his roles outside of Acoba. Mr Cumpsty’s website has also been updated as of 9.30am this morning, according to Google web logs.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: Mr Cumpsty was “appointed to the committee following an open competition and chosen precisely because of his experience in local government and in public affairs. The committee needed insight on how the public affairs industry works to help regulate the business appointment process, alongside other members with their own skill sets. His interests are transparently declared on the gov.uk website.
“All board members act in accordance with the prevailing codes of conduct and would excuse themselves from any conflicting interest.”
The spotlight fell onto Government lobbying practices following the revelation that former Prime Minister David Cameron used his status to lobby members of the current Cabinet on behalf of financial firm Greensill Capital. These involved sending texts directly to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak lobbying for Corona support.
Later it emerged that former government chief commercial officer Bill Crother also worked for Greensill Capital before he had left his full-time role at the civil service.
This morning, David Cameron’s spokesperson said he would “respond positively” to requests for evidence, but only “when the terms of reference of each inquiry are clear”.
In addition, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case has said there is “acute concern” at the top of the civil service about issues that have emerged in the former PM David Cameron’s lobbying affair.
Mr Case has now sent a letter to permanent secretaries saying: “If you come across any instances of senior civil servants holding remunerated positions or other interests outside government which might conflict with their obligations under the code please bring them to mine and (Cabinet Office director-general of propriety and ethics) Darren Tierney’s attention immediately and, at the latest, by the end of this week.”
Labour have pushed for a full probe involving a cross-party panel of MPs conducting public hearings. However, yesterday the Conservative majority Government rejected and voted down the plan.
Boris Johonson has insisted that the lawyer he appointed this week to carry out a review of the lobbying affair will lead a ‘proper’ inquiry.
The Labour shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rachel Reeves, said: “This doesn’t just show that Tories can’t be trusted to reform lobbying – they don’t even know where the line of integrity lies. We need a proper inquiry and to clean up sleaze and cronyism. Instead, the Conservatives voted for another crony cover-up.”