This weekend saw Cameron continue to be dogged by questions over whether his campaigns strategist, who co-founded agency Crosby Textor, has had influence over policy decisions.
The scrutiny began following a perceived Government U-turn over banning branding on cigarette packets after it emerged that Crosby Textor’s clients included tobacco interests.
Alex Deane, head of public affairs at Weber Shandwick, has worked with Crosby previously and said that the party has been given a ‘focus and edge’ by the strategist and ‘needs’ him.
He called on Crosby to take ‘a leave of absence’ from his firm to dedicate himself to the Conservative role full-time, to help silence questions over undue influence.
Another critical step, he added, was for Crosby’s agency to declare his clients.
‘As agencies we all declare our clients through the APPC and PRCA as we believe in transparency, and it’s not helped Crosby’s case that they have not declared theirs. Transparency would help salvage the situation and lance the boil.’
Cameron defended his relationship with Crosby on yesterday’s Andrew Marr Show and strenuously denies that he has been ‘lobbied’ by him.
However, stories have continued to emerge around Crosby Textor clients, including The Guardian revealing a presentation it claims was created by the agency for private healthcare firm H5 Private Healthcare Alliance on opportunities involving the NHS.
The issue of lobbying transparency has also been in the spotlight following the Government revealing its widely criticised register of lobbyists proposals last week.
Interel director Lee Whitehill agreed with Deane’s call for greater transparency.
He said the story was mainly of interest ‘within the Westminster bubble’ but added it threatened to have new potency as criminal trials begin on phone hacking at News International, which involves the Prime Minister’s former comms director Andy Coulson.
‘They will want to nail the story before that trial, so Number 10 also needs to be more open to change the perception that it is being shifty,’ he added.