web analytics

Bell Pottinger: Lobbying unmasked

Written By: - Date published: 11:36 pm, December 16th, 2011 - 5 comments
Categories: uk politics - Tags: ,

I first became aware of the Bureau of Investigative Journalists latest work with Kim Hill’s interview last Saturday.  The Bureau’s been investigating lobbying, and more specifically, Britain’s top PR firm (as rated by PRWeek and Marketing magazine for the past 4 years), Bell Pottinger (headed by Thatcher’s former media adviser, Lord Bell).

The ultimate sting ended up being posing as an Uzbekistani company aiming to improve Uzbekistan’s image on behalf of their government, and increase trade.  Uzbekistan is thought to use child labour in state cotton mills among other human rights violations that led to it featuring in Freedom House’s “Worst of the Worst” regimes.

What they recorded was senior people at the firm claiming to have serious influence over the British government.  They boasted of contacts in all the main 3 parties, but particularly the Conservative Party.  PM David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Office Minister William Hague, along with Cameron’s chief of staff, and Cameron’s closest adviser were all friends of the lobbyists, so they could get their message heard at the very top.

For GBP100,000/month (plus some minor improvements in Uzbekistan’s human rights to be able to spin) they could start organising such things as a visit by David Cameron, or even a Royal.  They’d massage search engine results so that if you looked up ‘uzbek child labour’ the first several pages would be stories about what Uzbekistan was doing about it, rather than criticism.  They’d adjust Wikipedia, removing criticism, and adding praise.  They could arrange MPs to attack certain current affairs shows’ credibility.

Former clients include Augusto Pinochet and the Pinochet foundation, the government of Belarus, the president of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh, the President of Sri Lanka (re: attacks on Tamils) and Russian oligarch Boris Berozovsky.  They still act for Trafigura, famous for their super-injunction trying to stop reporting of the House of Commons about their toxic oil spill that killed 15 and injured thousands.  More recently they started acting for News of the World’s former head Rebekah Wade – just to connect current British scandals.

They have more mundane clients as well, including Dyson, who they boasted of having within a day managed to get a scheduled meeting between Cameron and the Chinese Premier to include discussion about Chinese rip-offs of Dyson products.

Such is the level of power and influence that they offered as a prize at the last Conservative annual conference 2 weeks work experience with them.  Yes you get to work for them for free for 2 weeks as a high-value fundraising prize…

Now that this has surfaced MPs have been forced to have a select committee investigation into lobbying.  Most MPs believe there is a need for a register of lobbyists and their interests, but not quite a majority of Conservative MPs…

The loopholes that cause the problem are very similar to the loopholes here.  We also are lacking the transparency of a register of lobbyists and their interests.  And we also have former MPs with a parliamentary pass free to walk the corridors and lobby their friends without openness.

Perhaps it’s something that we need to look at as well – before we have a scandal, rather than after it…

5 comments on “Bell Pottinger: Lobbying unmasked ”

  1. CnrJoe 1

    Plenty of scandal to come BUNJI. Are Pansy Wong and Richard Worth lobbyists now? Do they have passes?
    It twer a fascinating interview too…..

  2. Jenny 2

    Investigative journalism (remember that?) has opened up Bell Pottinger, the UK’s top PR/lobby firm.

    BUNJI

    Hi Bunji, in answer to your rhetorical question; Investigative journalism starts with asking some simple questions of those in power.

    New Zealand’s powerful right wing lobby group, with their own security swipe cards to parliament, is to merge with another well funded conservative lobby group with special access to parliament, The New Zealand Institute.

    The question is, is this merger being done to double their influence?

    Will the government allow both organisations to keep their allotment of security swipe cards?

    How many of these cards do both groups have any way?

    Should they have any at all?

    Time for an OIA anyone?

    The story about the influence wielded by lobby groups is going begging in this country. Come on guys let’s open the lid on this can o’ worms.

    Lobbyists join forces: stuff.co.nz

    • seeker 2.1

      @ jenny – thanks for providing this comment and link, you ask:

      “.. is this merger being done to double their influence?”

      I would think so judging by what the chairmen said about combining their ‘think tanks’.
      The chairmen of the New Zealand Institute and the New Zealand Roundtable, Tony Carter and Roger Partridge respectively, said,
      ” ….. their organisations shared common missions and by combining resources they could provide a stronger voice ………
      ….to promote social, economic and environmental policy with a view to improving the standards of living and welfare of all New Zealanders, they said.”

      What an admirable aim. Combine voices to promote public policy issues for the altruistic reason of “improving the standards of living and welfare of ALL New Zealanders.”

      Forgive me for laughing and adding the ‘tui’,”Yeh right!”

      Let me use my own ‘think tank’ to ‘view’ their idea of ‘promoting’. What springs to mind?
      Oh yes, privatising welfare (social policy); privatising more assets(economic policy); privatising water and irrigation and promoting more mining and oil drilling (environmental policy).

      Yay that should improve the standards of some new Zealanders, 1%, if not quite all, 99%.

      Not a bad outcome – it’s the usual acceptable ratio. Pats on backs and drinks all round. Cheers.

      I think lobby groups, think tanks, focus groups,advisory groups, consultancy groups, PR firms, recruitment agencies, film makers and other suchlike commendably respectable agencies should be investigated, just to make sure they are being properly supported in their invaluable work.( could also add here, noblesse oblige foreign lord ships.)

  3. Tom Gould 3

    Imagine if there were a ‘PR’ firm that peddled ‘access and influence’ and then had their clients fund and fete those very same politicians and their party? Wouldn’t that be naughty? Some UK journo – a real one not like the ones here – on the radio today described Key-style government as a ‘kleptocracy’. So true.

    • seeker 3.1

      Thanx Tom, that was the word I was looking for today as I tried to succinctly string together a sentence with the words theft, assets and key’s national government.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Australian Foreign Minister to visit Aotearoa New Zealand
    Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today that Australian Foreign Minister Hon Marise Payne will visit Aotearoa New Zealand for the first face-to-face Foreign Ministers’ Consulations since the COVID-19 pandemic began. “Australia is New Zealand’s closest and most important international partner. I’m very pleased to be able to welcome Hon Marise ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Border exceptions will see more families reunited
    Hundreds more families who were separated by the border closure will be reunited under new border exceptions announced today, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said. “The Government closed the border to everyone but New Zealand citizens and residents, in order to keep COVID-19 out, keep our economy open and keep New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • “He Taniwha He Tipua, He Tipua He Taniwha – The Dragon and the Taniwha”
    Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Foreign Minister 8.30am, 19 April 2021 [CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY] Speech to the NZCC Korihi Pō, Korihi Ao E rongo e turia no Matahau Nō Tū te winiwini, Nō Tū te wanawana Tū Hikitia rā, Tū Hapainga mai Ki te Whai Ao, Ki te Ao Mārama Tihei Mauri ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Backing sustainable wool carpets to create a compelling yarn for New Zealand’s strong wool sector
    The Government is supporting a new project with all-wool New Zealand carpet company, Bremworth, which has its sights on developing more sustainable all-wool carpets and rugs, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced.  The Ministry for Primary Industries is contributing $1.9 million towards Bremworth’s $4.9 million sustainability project through its Sustainable Food ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • New Zealand provides support to Timor-Leste for flooding and COVID-19 surge
    New Zealand is providing further support to Timor-Leste following severe flooding and the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. “Our thoughts are with the people of Timor-Leste who have been impacted by the severe flooding and landslides at a time when the country is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • WHANAU OF MĀORI BATTALION SOLDIERS REUNITED WITH MEDALS
    A ceremony has been held today in Gisborne where the unclaimed medals of 28 (Māori) Battalion C Company soldiers were presented to their families.   After the Second World War, returning service personnel needed to apply for their medals and then they would be posted out to them.  While most medals ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • SolarWinds compromise attributed to Russian state actor
    New Zealand has today added its voice to the international condemnation of the malicious compromise and exploitation of the SolarWinds Orion platform. The Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau, Andrew Little, says that New Zealand's international partners have analysed the compromise of the SolarWinds Orion platform and attributed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Queenstown roading project given fast track approval
    An expert consenting panel has approved the Queenstown Arterials Project, which will significantly improve transport links and reduce congestion for locals and visitors in the tourism hotspot.   Environment Minister David Parker welcomed the approval for the project that will construct, operate and maintain a new urban road around Queenstown’s town ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Screen industry secures landmark project
    Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash says a landmark deal has been agreed with Amazon for The Lord of the Rings TV series, currently being filmed in New Zealand. Mr Nash says the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) secures multi-year economic and tourism benefits to New Zealand, outside the screen ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Report into review of health response to lead contamination released
    The Government welcomes the findings from a rapid review into the health system response to lead contamination in Waikouaiti’s drinking water supply. Sample results from the town’s drinking-water supply showed intermittent spikes in lead levels above the maximum acceptable value. The source of the contamination is still under investigation by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • NZ Upgrade Programme revs up economic recovery
    Transport Minister Michael Wood today marked the start of construction on the New Zealand Upgrade Programme’s Papakura to Drury South project on Auckland’s Southern Motorway, which will create hundreds of jobs and support Auckland’s economic recovery. The SH1 Papakura to Drury South project will give more transport choices by providing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Speech releasing the Digital Council's report 'Towards Trustworthy and Trusted Automated D...
    CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY  E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karanga maha o te wa, tēnā koutou, tēna koutou, tēna tātou katoa. Ki ngā mana whenua, ko Ngāi Tahu, ko Waitaha, ko Kāti Māmoe  anō nei aku mihi ki a koutou. Nōku te hōnore kia haere mai ki te ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Green light for 10 minute e-bus to Auckland Airport
    Transport Minister Michael Wood today marked the completion of upgrades to State Highway 20B which will give Aucklanders quick electric bus trips to and from the airport. The State Highway 20B Early Improvements project has added new lanes in each direction between Pukaki Creek Bridge and SH20 for buses and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Review into greyhound racing announced
    The Government is putting in place a review of the work being done on animal welfare and safety in the greyhound racing industry, Grant Robertson announced today. “While Greyhound Racing NZ has reported some progress in implementing the recommendations of the Hansen Report, recent incidents show the industry still has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Road safety boosted by increased penalty for mobile use while driving
    The infringement fee for using a mobile phone while driving will increase from $80 to $150 from 30 April 2021 to encourage safer driving, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today. Michael Wood said too many people are still picking up the phone while driving. “Police issued over 40,000 infringement notices ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Pacific mental wellbeing supported across Auckland and Wellington
    Pacific people in New Zealand will be better supported with new mental health and addiction services rolling out across the Auckland and Wellington regions, says Aupito William Sio.  “One size does not fit all when it comes to supporting the mental wellbeing of our Pacific peoples. We need a by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Fresh approach proposed to Smokefree 2025
    New measures are being proposed to accelerate progress towards becoming a smokefree nation by 2025, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced. “Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke kills around 12 people a day in New Zealand. Recent data tells us New Zealand’s smoking rates continue to decrease, but ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt expands Mana Ake to provide more school-based mental wellbeing support
    More children will be able to access mental wellbeing support with the Government expansion of Mana Ake services to five new District Health Board areas, Health Minister Andrew Little says. The Health Minister made the announcement while visiting Homai School in Counties Manukau alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Record Number of People Move Into Work
    The Government’s COVID-19 response has meant a record number of people moved off a Benefit and into employment in the March Quarter, with 32,880 moving into work in the first three months of 2021. “More people moved into work last quarter than any time since the Ministry of Social Development ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Significant global progress made under Christchurch Call
    A stocktake undertaken by France and New Zealand shows significant global progress under the Christchurch Call towards its goal to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.  The findings of the report released today reinforce the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach, with countries, companies and civil society working together to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New chair of interim TAB NZ Board appointed
    Racing Minister Grant Robertson has announced he is appointing Elizabeth Dawson (Liz) as the Chair of the interim TAB NZ Board. Liz Dawson is an existing Board Director of the interim TAB NZ Board and Chair of the TAB NZ Board Selection Panel and will continue in her role as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government to phase out live exports by sea
    The Government has announced that the export of livestock by sea will cease following a transition period of up to two years, said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “At the heart of our decision is upholding New Zealand’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare. We must stay ahead of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Workshop on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems – opening remarks
    WORKSHOP ON LETHAL AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS SYSTEMS Wednesday 14 April 2021 MINISTER FOR DISARMAMENT AND ARMS CONTROL OPENING REMARKS Good morning, I am so pleased to be able to join you for part of this workshop, which I’m confident will help us along the path to developing New Zealand’s national policy on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Inter-prison kapa haka competition launched
    For the first time, all 18 prisons in New Zealand will be invited to participate in an inter-prison kapa haka competition, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. The 2021 Hōkai Rangi Whakataetae Kapa Haka will see groups prepare and perform kapa haka for experienced judges who visit each prison and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government takes step forward on counter terrorism laws
    The Government has introduced the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill, designed to boost New Zealand's ability to respond to a wider range of terrorist activities. The Bill strengthens New Zealand’s counter-terrorism legislation and ensures that the right legislative tools are available to intervene early and prevent harm. “This is the Government’s first ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Carbon neutral government a step closer
    Coal boiler replacements at a further ten schools, saving an estimated 7,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next ten years Fossil fuel boiler replacements at Southern Institute of Technology and Taranaki DHB, saving nearly 14,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next ten years Projects to achieve a total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Appointment of Chief Parliamentary Counsel
    Attorney-General David Parker today announced the appointment of Cassie Nicholson as Chief Parliamentary Counsel for a term of five years. The Chief Parliamentary Counsel is the principal advisor and Chief Executive of the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO).  She is responsible for ensuring PCO, which drafts most of New Zealand’s legislation, provides ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Emissions report shows urgent action needed
    Every part of Government will need to take urgent action to bring down emissions, the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw said today in response to the recent rise in New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions. The latest annual inventory of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions shows that both gross and net ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • NZ becomes first in world for climate reporting
    Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark says Aotearoa New Zealand has become the first country in the world to introduce a law that requires the financial sector to disclose the impacts of climate change on their business and explain how they will manage climate-related risks and opportunities. The Financial ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Awards celebrate the food and fibre sector employer excellence
    Exceptional employment practices in the primary industries have been celebrated at the Good Employer Awards, held this evening at Parliament. “Tonight’s awards provided the opportunity to celebrate and thank those employers in the food and fibres sector who have gone beyond business-as-usual in creating productive, safe, supportive, and healthy work ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tourism Infrastructure Fund now open
    Applications are now invited from all councils for a slice of government funding aimed at improving tourism infrastructure, especially in areas under pressure given the size of their rating bases. Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has already signalled that five South Island regions will be given priority to reflect that jobs ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Electricity Networks Association (ENA) Annual Cocktail Speech 2021
    Tēnā koutou e ngā maata waka Tenā koutou te hau kāinga ngā iwi o Te Whanganui ā TaraTēnā koutou i runga i te kaupapa o te Rā. No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa.  It is a pleasure to be here tonight.  Thank you Graeme (Peters, ENA Chief ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Construction Skills Action Plan delivering early on targets
    The Construction Skills Action Plan has delivered early on its overall target of supporting an additional 4,000 people into construction-related education and employment, says Minister for Building and Construction Poto Williams. Since the Plan was launched in 2018, more than 9,300 people have taken up education or employment opportunities in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Youth Justice residence offers new pathway
    An innovative new Youth Justice residence designed in partnership with Māori will provide prevention, healing, and rehabilitation services for both young people and their whānau, Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis announced today.  Whakatakapokai is located in South Auckland and will provide care and support for up to 15 rangatahi remanded or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • The Duke of Edinburgh
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today expressed New Zealand’s sorrow at the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. “Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen at this profoundly sad time.  On behalf of the New Zealand people and the Government, I would like to express ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Five Country Ministerial Communiqué
    We, the Home Affairs, Interior, Security and Immigration Ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (the ‘Five Countries’) met via video conference on 7/8 April 2021, just over a year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Guided by our shared ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Inspiring creativity through cultural installations and events
    Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni has today announced the opening of the first round of Ngā Puninga Toi ā-Ahurea me ngā Kaupapa Cultural Installations and Events. “Creating jobs and helping the arts sector rebuild and recover continues to be a key part of the Government’s COVID-19 response,” Carmel ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Drug-testing law to be made permanent
    Interim legislation that is already proving to keep people safer from drugs will be made permanent, Health Minister Andrew Little says. Research by Victoria University, on behalf of the Ministry of Health, shows that the Government’s decision in December to make it legal for drug-checking services to operate at festivals ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Better rules proposed for freedom camping
    Public consultation launched on ways to improve behaviour and reduce damage Tighter rules proposed for either camping vehicles or camping locations Increased penalties proposed, such as $1,000 fines or vehicle confiscation Rental companies may be required to collect fines from campers who hire vehicles Public feedback is sought on proposals ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government backs Air New Zealand as Trans-Tasman bubble opens
    The Government is continuing to support Air New Zealand while aviation markets stabilise and the world moves towards more normal border operations. The Crown loan facility made available to Air New Zealand in March 2020 has been extended to a debt facility of up to $1.5 billion (an additional $600 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago