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Liam Fox lobbied PM on behalf of trade group that pays him £1,000 an hour

Liam Fox lobbied PM on behalf of trade group that pays him £1,000 an hour

Former trade secretary is chairman of Global Britain Commission and wrote to Rishi Sunak pressing for export tax break
The former cabinet minister Liam Fox has been criticised for lobbying the prime minister on behalf of a business group that pays him £1,000 an hour.

Fox, a former trade secretary, is the chairman and a “commissioner” of the Global Britain Commission, whose members include representatives of the banking industry group UK Finance, the private bank Coutts, Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic, Forth Ports and others. It is expected to pay him £6,000 for six hours of work over the past six months.

In his role as a commissioner of the group, Fox wrote an open letter to the prime minister pressing for an export tax credit – a tax break for exporters – as well as a merger between the Department for Business and the Department for Trade – a move that Rishi Sunak made earlier this month.

His letter also highlighted the group’s recent recommendations before the budget calling for the scrapping of air passenger duty and changes to the apprenticeship levy, while requesting a meeting with the prime minister to discuss its suggestions.

Anneliese Dodds, the chair of the Labour party, criticised Fox’s work for the lobbying group, saying: “Rishi Sunak promised a government of professionalism, integrity and accountability at all levels. Now we learn that former ministers are making money hand over fist lobbying him on changes to the machinery of government.

“Rishi Sunak needs to be clear how much his grand relaunch was influenced by this lobbying group.

“There is no reason why former ministers should be moonlighting as consultants or lobbyists for huge fees. Labour tried to ban dodgy second jobs over a year ago but the Conservatives lined up to vote for a watered down cop-out. Rishi Sunak needs to deal with this issue urgently.”

Fox’s activities do not appear to fall foul of the rules that ban some forms of paid lobbying by MPs because the former cabinet minister is a member of the organisation rather than acting in an advisory capacity. This is permitted regardless of any financial benefit.

A spokesperson for Fox and the Global Britain Commission said: “The commission is cross-party and has met with both Labour and Conservative MPs as well as officials in government who all want to positively contribute to the UK’s growth, international standing and the creation of highly skilled jobs.

“Dr Fox is proud to chair the Global Britain Commission, which consists of some of the best people in British business and makes regular public contributions in the national interest on how to improve the UK’s prosperity and place in the world.”

Many MPs have cut back on work in second jobs since the furore over Owen Paterson lobbying for two companies cost him his seat and the controversy over Geoffrey Cox, the former attorney general, who was working abroad as a lawyer while parliament was sitting.

However, Fox is one of those to have recently taken on the new second job on a paid basis. He has been chair of the Global Britain Commission since 2021, but this became a paid role in August 2022, with the lobbying firm, Bradshaw Advisory, due to make the payment of £6,000 for the six months to January. He also received £10,000 in August for having done 15 hours of work.

The commission is described on the MPs’ register of members’ interests as an “independent, non-partisan, membership organisation which aims to ensure that economics and trade are at the heart of policy delivery”.

Fox is separately paid £10,000 every six months as a retainer by WorldPR, a company based in Panama, despite working no hours for them to date. WorldPR’s clients have previously included the late Chilean dictator AugustusAugusto Pinochet, a team of lawyers working for the Libyan government to secure the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, and the Kazakh and Azerbaijani governments.
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