CIPR bemoans "complete lack of transparency" of lobbying rules following latest scandal
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has renewed calls for the government to commit to reforming lobbying legislation following revelations that Bim Afolami MP had been paid for his role in chairing a caucus of Conservative MPs that lobbied the government.
The Regulatory Reform Group was set up by public affairs firm, WPI Strategy, to lobby for a "systematic evolution of the regulatory system". It published its first report, The Purpose of Regulation, in April this year which was funded by one of WPI Strategy's clients. An article in The Guardian reveals that Mr. Afolami had been paid £2,000 a month for his work chairing the group.
Although MPs are not permitted to conduct lobbying for payment, there is no suggestion that any rules had been broken due to the work being for the benefit of a group or sector rather than a specific client. Mr. Afolami and WPI Strategy both confirmed to The Guardian that the editorial independence of the report was controlled by parliamentarians.
A report published by the CIPR last week - The Never-Ending Scandal - finds that calls for reform of lobbying rules have been ignored across Parliament.
Bim Afolami and his colleagues in the Regulatory Reform Group have every right to lobby the government on these causes that I have no doubt they feel strongly and passionate about. It is understandable that the Group sought the expert advice and skills of a PR agency to support them to do that. What is wrong here is the complete lack of transparency required in terms of the commercial relationship between the parliamentarians and the consultancy and their client. There has been much scrutiny of APPGs in recent months but, as inconsistent as they may be at least they operate under clear guidance.
As our report last week highlighted, the need for a reform of rules across the whole lobbying landscape is desperately required if we want to have any hope of restoring trust in our politics. Can there seriously be anyone left who thinks that the current rules do not need overhauling?
About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the world's only Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners with over 10,000 members.
The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).