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Former ministers are lobbyists' ‘cabs for hire’

Issue No. 2194

The Labour Party has been forced to suspend former ministers after they were caught trying to “cash in” their political connections to gain lucrative lobbying consultancies.

Former defence secretary Geoff Hoon, former trade and industry minister Stephen Byers and former health secretary Patricia Hewitt were all suspended on Monday

Byers had told an undercover Channel 4 reporter that he was “like a sort of cab for hire” at up to £5,000 a day.

He later claimed his boast to be able to change government policy was “exaggerated”.

Perhaps the water treatment company ACWA and Ritz Climate Offset Company should be told this. Byers is a non-executive chairman of both.

Hewitt said that her discussion with the reporters only concerned future roles, after she stepped down as an MP.

Yet Hewitt is already an advisor to Cinven, a private equity-backed private hospitals and healthcare group.

She is also a consultant to pharmacy business AllianceBoots.

The scandal involving these former ministers is only the tip of the vast web of links between MPs and businesses.

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Tue 23 Mar 2010, 19:30 GMT
Issue No. 2194
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