Ban ministers from lobbying for five years and improve transparency, says standards chief

Ban ministers from lobbying for five years and improve transparency, says standards chief
Lord Evans is expected to call for tougher lobbying measures in a new proposal following the Greensill scandal

Ministers should be banned from lobbying for at least five years after leaving office, the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life is expected to say in a new proposal.

According to The Sunday Times, Lord Evans is set to propose the tougher measures, including fines for ministers if they break the rules, in an emergency review conducted following the Greensill scandal.

The review was launched by the former MI5 head following “sustained public scrutiny” of the rules governing politicians after they leave office, particularly in the wake of the lobbying scandal over David Cameron’s work for failed Australian finance firm Greensill Capital.

The former prime minister has insisted that he broke no rules in his efforts to secure access to a government-backed coronavirus loan scheme for Greensill.

However, he has admitted that he should have contacted officials through formal channels after it was revealed that he lobbied senior ministers, including the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, in private emails, WhatsApp messages and texts.

According to The Sunday Times, the review will “single out” Mr Cameron – whom Lord Evans served under for three years as MI5 chief – and demand that ministers “disclose informal lobbying over WhatsApp and text messages”.

The report is also expected to deem the current rules “inadequate” and demand an “overhaul … in an attempt to stop former ministers using their contacts and expertise for private gain”.

Lord Evans is expected to tell BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on Monday: “I do think there needs to be greater transparency about lobbying. There’s nothing wrong with lobbying in principle, but there needs to be a level playing field and it needs to be done visibly.”

The Committee on Standards in Public Life was established in 1994 following the “cash for questions” scandal.

Since then, its recommendations have laid the groundwork for significant anti-corruption reforms.

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