Sovereign plans to stop paying MPs and peers

Sovereign Strategy is to end its controversial practice of paying MPs and peers.

The lobbying firm ­currently has two paid non-executive directors who sit in the House of Lords – former Labour cabinet minister Lord Cunningham and former Labour MEP Baroness Billingham.

Cunningham was an MP when he joined the agency in 2002.

It is understood that both Cunningham and Billingham will step down following this month’s AGM, having reached the end of their terms of office. A new management structure will be proposed at the meeting.

A statement put out by Sovereign said: ‘This means that the company will no longer have any financial ­association with parliamentarians.’

Sovereign’s relationship with the two peers has ­antagonised industry bodies, and has prevented the agency from joining the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC).

But the proposed changes could pave the way for the agency to join up.

The move was backed by Labour MP John Grogan, who last week tabled a parliamentary motion calling for greater transparency in lobbying.

He said: ‘Alan Donnelly of Sovereign Strategy has written to me outlining the fact that Sovereign already ­declares all its clients on its website and clarifying that it is the intention of Sovereign Strategy to adopt a new position as regards paying MPs or peers. That move will be widely welcomed.’

Following the restructure, former Labour MEP Donnelly will remain in place as executive chairman, while chief executive Iain Malcolm becomes CEO and deputy chairman.

Meanwhile, associate direc­tor Rory O’Neill and head of European affairs Michael Quigley will both become managing directors of the firm.

Sovereign’s clients include Formula One Management, Ferrari, the City of London and the Transatlantic Nuclear Energy Forum.

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