CBI/Government talks spark furore

The Government has been ordered to disclose records of meetings in a case that could force changes to lobbying practice.

The tribunal ruled that the Department for Business, Enterprise and Reform (BERR) must release details of monthly meetings between secretary of state Alan Johnson and former CBI director general Digby Jones.

It said the disputed records of lobbying meetings between BERR - then the Department of Trade and Industry - and the CBI must be released because of 'strong public interest in understanding how lobbyists influence government'.

Top lobbyists worry that such meetings could end up being pushed further underground. 'There will be secret lunches that don't end up in the Hansard,' warned an MD of a public affairs company.

But Morgan Allen Moore chairman Steve Morgan welcomed the decision. 'These things should be much more transparent,' he said.

Friends of the Earth is calling for the Public Administration Select Committee inquiry into lobbying to recommend mandatory registration, with full financial disclosure, as a first step in ensuring democratic oversight of influential lobbyists.

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