Blog trail to Pickles

Eric Pickles was quizzed in the House of Commons this week over a dinner with Bell Pottinger Public Affairs - after the meal was revealed on a blog by BPPA chairman Peter Bingle.

The Communities Secretary was not required to declare the meal because he was eating privately. Nevertheless, Labour MP Paul Flynn criticised Pickles over the dinner.

Questions over Pickles' attendance at the dinner were first raised by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, as part of an investigation into loopholes in ministerial transparency rules. The bureau was alerted to the dinner by a blog from Bingle, who subsequently stopped his blog 'musings'.

Bingle said: 'At a time when there are calls for public affairs consultants to be more transparent, it is slightly ironic to then be attacked for having mentioned a ministerial dinner for clients in a musing in February.

'Our critics always assume the worst about everybody. The politicians that I deal with ... have never broken a confidence or betrayed a friendship. I trust the same is true of me.'

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