Oliver Wright
The Independent

January 20, 2012

Campaigning groups and charities which seek to influence government policy may have to declare themselves as lobbyists under plans to be unveiled by ministers today.

The Government is concerned that some of the groups are being used as “fronts” for industries seeking to influence policy covertly. There is particular concern over single-issue health charities – often funded by the pharmaceutical industry – that have pressured the Government to back drugs and treatments provided by their sponsors.

Campaign groups may also have to reveal any relevant funding from industry relating to issues they are campaigning on as part of the new statutory register of lobbyists, which will be announced by the Political Reform minister, Mark Harper, today.

The long-delayed proposals come in the wake of revelations in The Independent about the extent of the influence claimed by lobbyists.

The lobbying firm Bell Pottinger was secretly recorded by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism boasting about its contacts in Downing Street who could be used on behalf of its clients. The investigation highlighted concerns first raised by David Cameron when in opposition that lobbying is “the next great political scandal”.

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