CIoJ highlights hypocrisy of lobbying bill
RELEASE DATE: 17 June 2013[frame align=”right”] [/frame]The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) has written to the leaders of the three main political parties to complain about the gross hypocrisy of the proposed bill affecting lobbyists.
In recent months, the secretive lobby group Hacked Off has been granted unprecedented access to government meetings regarding regulation of the Press. This privileged access was given despite little being known about who backs and funds the organisation.
Recent reports have identified a few of Hacked Off’s supporters, many of whom have had, or still have, connections to political parties. It is this murky side of lobbying that the new bill seeks to make more transparent, the side that the Coalition claims to be against. Yet one of the most secretive lobbying groups still has unprecedented access to MPs and government.
“It is hypocritical for the Government and Opposition to be so intimate with a secretive lobbying group on the one hand, and then propose a bill seeking to bring transparency to parliamentary lobbying,” said Institute President, Charlie Harris.
“It is journalists, and only journalists, who have exposed the murky world of lobbying and the willingness of some MPs and peers to be bought, and it is only the latest scandals which have forced the Government’s hand in finally keeping a promise that David Cameron first made years ago and then forgot.
“The proposed register of ‘licensed’ lobbyists will do little to stamp out MPs and peers putting themselves up for sale, but will make it easier for them to check if an approach is from a real lobbying firm or part of a journalistic investigation and so avoid their corruption being exposed.”
“For a secretive organisation to be allowed a major role in reaching a cross-party deal for the Government Royal Charter is exactly why lobbying rules need to be changed.”
“We have written to ask the leaders of the main political parties to stand by their promises and to stop their double dealing on this matter.”
NOTE: Harris teaches government on National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) training courses.