Hacked off by “The Torygraph”?
Gilligan guns for Sovereign Strategy
Andrew Gilligan, the former BBC journalist who was at the genesis of the Blair/Campbell “sexed up document” story, had a right good go at Sovereign Strategy the lobbying company headed by former South Tyneside councillor and MEP Alan Donnelly and current council leader Iain Malcolm in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph. In a curious article he exposed many of Sovereign Strategy’s tactics in raising cash and then passing on amounts of it to the Labour Party nationally and locally, the main two points of his piece are that (a) the lobbyist is working with the Hacked Off campaign to keep the phone hacking story in the news, and (b) that News International don’t like the firm and he repeats a whole string of allegations made by The Times and The Sunday Times over recent years.
I am just curious as to what Gillligan was hoping to prove or achieve: so long as we have the type of democracy which involves close links between the press and politicians we will always have professional lobbying firms, and pressure groups working around the fringes or deep within the heart of politics beavering away at ensuring certain issues of interest are prominent in the minds of politicians. Presently, we expect and hope that the relationships between journalists of News International and leading politicians, from all parties, are kept under the closest possible scrutiny until Parliament and the courts have all reached the end of their deliberations. I assume that Gilligan also wants to see full transparency amongst those trading blows during this process, but there will be many other groups and companies similarly involved in gaining privileged access to government ministers who will fall below the radar, and some of these will undoubtedly be supporters and financiers of the Conservative Party.
I just wonder what the effect of articles such as this will be on the revenues of lobbying companies now being bleached by the sunlight, as businesses in the north-east discover that £5000 fees paid to the North-East Economic Forum, which is a very useful body for gathering opinion and strategic regeneration ideas, is drip fed to the Labour Party to the tune of £160000 over the past nine years, with an additional £41000 personally coming from Alan Donnelly?
It would be interesting to hear either Alan Donnelly’s or Iain Malcolm’s opinion on Gilligan’s surgical excisions into their business. Are they well and truly Hacked Off?
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