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Fox, a former Trade Minister, is the Chairman of the so-called Global Britain Commission. This is a role that is paid for by the lobbying firm, Bradshaw Advisory, who also act as the secretariat for the Commission.
The controversial lobbying of Rishi Sunak, back in February, caught the eye of the The Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists (OCRL) – the watchdog that works to monitor the activity of lobbying firms, its clients and their engagement with Ministers.
Shortly after the news broke, the OCRL launched an investigation into Bradshaw Advisory and Liam Fox MP to see if any rules had been broken.
On 16 May 2023, it concluded that Bradshaw did in fact breach key lobbying legislation and judged the rule breaking severe enough to warrant a ‘civil penalty’.
The OCRL concluded:
“The failure of Bradshaw to register before carrying out consultant lobbying, as required by 1(1) of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (“the Act”), is an offence under 12(1) of the Act”.
The watchdog decided that Liam Fox didn’t break the rules because the fee he received from Bradshaw Advisory was “not paid to a VAT registered entity”. This is one of the three conditions under the Act that define what a ‘consultant lobbyist’ is.
This isn’t the first time Liam Fox has been caught up in a lobbying scandal. Last year, we revealed that the Conservative MP lobbied the former Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, on behalf of a Covid testing company called Surescreen Diagnostics. The firm went on to win a £500m contract from Hancock’s department before donating £20,000 to Mr Fox.
Since December 2022, the Conservative MP has declared seven separate donations or retainer fees totalling £70,000. Every declaration is valued at exactly £10,000 with the majority from firms based outside of Dr Fox’s North Somerset constituency. This is in addition to the £6,000 he was paid by Bradshaw Advisory in January 2023 – equating to £1,000 per hour.
A spokesperson for Bradshaw Advisory said:
“We accidentally lapsed from the Register of Consultant Lobbyists due to a missed invoice payment which – as an SME – was simply an administrative oversight. Once it was brought to our attention we immediately re-registered and declared any registrable contact we had in the usual way.
“We fully co-operate with the registrar and paid a small penalty of £763.46 to account for the 40 working days that had been missed from our registration”.
Good Law Project approached Global Britain Commission, Dr Liam Fox MP and the OCRL for comment.
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