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Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20

The Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists’ Annual Report and Accounts for the financial year 2019-20 was laid before Parliament on 20 July 2020, having been certified by the Comptroller and Auditor General without qualification. You can download a copy below. The document, together with an Open Data Source version of the tabular data it contains, is also available on the gov.uk page for ORCL.

Business Plan 2020-21

This document sets out the key priorities of the Registrar to ensure continued compliance with the Transparency of Lobbying [etc] Act 2014 during the 2020-21 financial year.

You can download and read the Business Plan below.

Summary of Investigation – Lowick Group

April 2020

Organisation or Person Investigated

Lowick Group

Matter(s) Investigated

Whether the Lowick Group’s activities are such that they should be
entered on the Register of Consultant Lobbyists.

Registrar’s Decision

There is no evidence of consultant lobbying historically, but Lowick
Group are likely to need to register themselves in prospect of future work.
Summary of rationale for decision: Though the services promoted on Lowick Group’s
website might potentially include consultant lobbying activity, Lowick Group have given an
express assurance that at 20 April 2020 they have not undertaken such activity, and no
evidence has been provided to the Registrar to prove the contrary. Lowick have sought the
Registrar’s advice in relation to some forthcoming work and it is likely this will require
registration and declaration.

Chronology

DateAction
1 April 2020



ORCL receives an email from a third party, drawing attention
to the services offered by Lowick Group on their website, and
their lack of inclusion on the Register of Consultant Lobbyists.
2 April 2020 Initial letter of enquiry from Registrar emailed to Lowick Group,
outlining statutory requirements in relation to Register of
Consultant Lobbyists and seeking comment and assurances
from Lowick. Email also sent to third party informant, requesting
details of any specific statutory breach they may have been
aware of.
15 April 2020 Phone call from ORCL to chase lack of response from
Lowick Group. Further copy of Registrar’s letter of 2 April
emailed following conversation.
17 April 2020 Reply received from Lowick Group suggesting lack of
historic consultant lobbying, but possible need to register in
respect of forthcoming work.
20 April 2020 Email from ORCL to Lowick seeking explicit confirmation of
no consultant lobbying activity to date. Email reply received,
providing that explicit confirmation.

28 April 2020

Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists

office@orcl.gov.uk

Summary of Investigation – The Finsbury Group and Huawei

February 2020

Organisation or Person Investigated

The Finsbury Group

Matter(s) Investigated

Whether The Finsbury Group failed to declare any consultant
lobbying activity on behalf of Huawei Technologies.

Registrar’s Decision

Whilst Huawei has been a paying client of The Finsbury Group, there is
no evidence that the latter conducted consultant lobbying activity for the former within the terms
of the legislation.

Summary of Rationale for Decision

The media article that initially raised questions identified that Huawei was a client of The Finsbury Group, that a senior official within the latter was the brother of a recent UK Government Minister, and that another senior official had stated on social media that they had been advising Huawei on strategy. Whilst these circumstances all create a context in which consultant lobbying that needs to be declared (i.e. personal communication by the consultant with a Minister, Permanent Secretary or equivalent, on behalf of a paying client) might take place, no evidence has been provided that declarable activity did in fact take place.
The Finsbury Group explicitly confirmed that no such communications were made by them on behalf of Huawei and the Private Eye article itself reports a similar explicit denial by the Minister in question.

Chronology

DateAction
4 February 2020



Office of the Registrar receives email from member of the public,
drawing attention to an article in issue 1515 of Private Eye,
concerning the role of ‘Finsbury PR’ in the UK Government’s
consideration of whether to allow Huawei to be part of the delivery of
5G services in the UK.
5-11 February
2020
Consideration of the article by the Registrar.
12 February 2020 Letters sent to:
• Private Eye, specifying the statutory requirements relating to
consultant lobbying, the role of the Registrar, and requesting
any additional information and evidence they may have
relating to possible breach of those statutory requirements;
and
• The Finsbury Group, identifying the article, highlighting
statutory requirements on registrants, and requesting a
response to the concerns raised by the article.
18 February 2020 Reply from The Finsbury Group, explicitly states:
• Huawei was a client of theirs during the relevant period;
• The services provided to Huawei did not include personal
communications from The Finsbury Group to UK Government
Ministers or Permanent Secretaries (or equivalent); and
• No such communications had therefore been made on behalf of
Huawei since they had been a client of The Finsbury Group.
24 February 2020 Reply from Private Eye, stating that they had no information to provide
beyond what was contained in the published article. Registrar
determines that there is therefore no evidence of any breach of the
statutory requirements.

18 March 2020

Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists

office@orcl.gov.uk

Investigation case summary – Acumen Public Affairs and Hering Schuppener

Between August 2019 and January 2020, responding to information provided by a third party, the Registrar investigated whether Acumen Public Affairs and/or Hering Schuppener should have joined the Register of Consultant Lobbyists. A summary of the investigation and conclusion can be downloaded below.

Guidance update – January 2020

The Registrar is today publishing an updated guidance document on registration and Quarterly Information Returns, which both reflects the results of his consultation on registerable activity and codes of conduct, and incorporates the previously separate specialist guidance for think tanks and providers of support services to APPGs. The updated guidance can be found here.

Consultation responses and conclusions

Following consultation conducted through the latter half of 2019, the Registrar has now determined to make certain changes to existing guidance on registerable activity and codes of conduct. You can view the responses received to the consultation, and the Registrar’s conclusions in light of those responses, in the following downloadable pdf documents.

Registerable activity:

Codes of conduct:

The Registrar intends to publish shortly the updated guidance incorporating these changes. Existing registrants will be contacted directly to highlight the key changes, and confirm the transitional period during which they will need to implement consequential changes to their statutory quarterly information returns.

Investigation case summary – CTF Partners Limited

Between July and November 2019, as a result of media reports, the Registrar made enquiries with CTF Partners Limited, as to the services it offers to clients, and its compliance processes in relation to the Transparency of Lobbying [etc] Act 2014.

A summary of the investigation and conclusion can be downloaded below.

Investigation case summary – Finn Communications activity with APPG for British Bioethanol

Between July and September 2019, the Registrar investigated a suggestion of unregistered consultant lobbying by Finn Communications, in relation to their being listed as providing secretariat services to the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Bioethanol.

A summary of the investigation and conclusion can be downloaded below.

Statement of Accounts 2018-19

The Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists’ Statement of Accounts for the financial year 2018-19 was laid before Parliament on 22 July 2019, having been certified by the Comptroller and Auditor General without qualification. You can download a copy of that Statement of Accounts here.