MP Sir Gerald Howarth defends comms 'consultant' roles

The former Ministry of Defence minister has defended his right to seek private sector comms work in the wake of scrutiny over the so-called 'revolving door' and The Sunday Times' MoD expose.

Public life: Howarth is seeking work in the public sector
Public life: Howarth is seeking work in the public sector

Former minister for international security strategy Sir Gerald Howarth spoke to PRWeek as one of several former ministers understood to be seeking comms consultancy work after being moved out of departmental roles in David Cameron's September reshuffle.

Howarth, who is Conservative MP for Aldershot, said he was not interested in handling lobbying work, but was actively seeking defence industry roles in comms and marketing, either working in-house or as a consultant.

PRWeek also understands that another former minister is believed to have held talks about taking on consultancy work for private-sector firms operating in the public sector. But the MP concerned did not respond to PRWeek's requests for comment.

Howarth commented: 'I'm now a backbencher and therefore I'm interested in deploying such skills as I have, and furthermore I'm interested to do what I can to promote British expertise.'

He added that moves into the private sector for former ministers such as himself can serve a 'very important political objective to strengthen those existing alliances and generate other alliances'.

But Howarth suggested that 'we're not as good in the UK as other countries in being able to harness those skills' in the private sector, for which he blamed the 'rather sclerotic system of government'.

He added: 'What one needs is to find mechanisms where you can easily engage people, such as a number of ministers who have left the Foreign Office or other areas of government activity.'

Howarth was formerly a joint MD of Taskforce Communications, which also involved Lord Cecil Parkinson, and was wound up in 1995.

Howarth's comments come after The Sunday Times exposed six former MoD officials who were caught on camera boasting about their access to senior officials for lobbying cash.

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