MONDAY 16 AUG 2021 3:52 PM


The PRCA has sent an open letter to Michael Gove, minister for the cabinet office, calling for urgent reform to lobbying regulations in wake of the scandal involving chancellor Philip Hammond and David Cameron.

Francis Ingham, director general of the PRCA, wrote the letter on behalf of the organisation and as the voice and self-regulatory body for the public affairs industry. The letter follows recent developments in the David Cameron lobbying scandal, that revealed the ex-PM praised the chairman of NHS England in an effort to lobby for the financial company, Greensill Capital. Cameron was reported by the BBC to have made an estimated £7m from his lobbying activities, despite widespread industry outrage surrounding the ethics and regulations involved.

Public affairs professionals are barred from employing parliamentarians, while their employees or contractors are barred from holding parliamentary passes. These individuals are required by a strict code of conduct, to publicly declare all of their clients, and the names of their employees on a quarterly basis.

An inquiry has also been launched to investigate Philip Hammond’s conduct when acting on the advisory board of OakNorth Bank, following reports that the former chancellor wrote to the Treasury advocating for the company.

The PR industry as whole works to ensure people can make informed decisions. The allegations against former parliamentarians, puts the integrity of public, political and media confidence at risk. The PRCA says there needs to be urgent changes made to lobbying regulation, the issuing of parliamentary passes, disclosure of official meetings, and employment conditions of former ministers.

Six recommendations were previously shared with the Cabinet Office in April. Four months on, Ingham says these recommendations are more pressing than ever. “If steps are not taken to respond, this plethora of media reports could trigger the worst crisis in public confidence in the political system since the MP expenses scandal of some years ago. We are all aware of the long-term impact that episode had,” writes Ingham.

The letter ends with a call to action as Ingham assures UK Government that it has a willing partner in the public affairs industry, if it chooses to address the situation promptly and move towards reform as a matter of urgency.