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Esther McVey Made ‘Minor Breach’ of Revolving Door Rules: Government

  • An ex-UK housing minister made a second “minor breach” of revolving door rules, the government says.
  • Esther McVey was previously found in breach of the rules for work as a GB News presenter.
  • McVey gave a speech on “tips and tricks to get an industry message across to government” but denied it concerned lobbying.

A former UK housing minister who gave a £3,000 speech to a construction trade association about how to “get an industry message across to government” has been found in “minor breach” of the UK’s revolving door rules designed to stop ex-ministers cashing in on their time in government.

Esther McVey’s breach of the rules concerned her failing to seek advice before joining the speakers’ agency through which she was paid for her speech — not for giving the speech itself. She previously denied that her talk of her involved helping special interests more effectively lobby government.

It is McVey’s second breach of the rules after she was found in December 2021 to have failed to follow the Business Appointment Rules by not consulting the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) before taking a role as a presenter on GB News. In addition to her role as a GB News presenter, McVey is a Conservative MP for Tatton.

As a housing minister until February 2020, McVey was required to consult ACOBA before taking up any appointments until February 2022.

Insider first revealed McVey’s October 2021 speech to the Council for Aluminum in Building. A LinkedIn post by the Council for Aluminum in Building described her speech as providing “an excellent range of hints, tips and tricks to get an industry message across to government, officials and the press.”

Esther McVey at a trade association speech

Esther McVey at the Council for Aluminum in Building’s meeting in Leeds, 14th October 2021.

Council for Aluminum in Building


When contacted by ACOBA, McVey denied her speech was about lobbying. Instead, she said it was about “‘how to run a successful campaign’ as a backbench MP”.

The head of the UK’s professional lobbying association, Francis Ingham, told Insider that such a speech is “clearly advice on lobbying”, and described it as “completely unethical” for McVey to make the speech.

“There is no other way to describe it. It is ludicrous to say otherwise. It’s treating people as fools to pretend it’s something else,” Ingham said.

Insider did not immediately receive a response from McVey’s office.

The government seems to have accepted McVey’s explanation of her speech.

Cabinet Office minister Lord True told ACOBA chair Lord Pickles in a letter published Monday that he notes “Ms McVey’s confirmation that, contrary to the press coverage of this speech, she did not provide advice on lobbying or discuss her former Ministerial role during this engagement. “

McVey will face no punishment or censorship despite her breaching government rules twice. And now that two years have passed, she is no longer bound by the government rules, leaving her free to give speeches advising on lobbying.

The opposition Labor party criticized McVey for what they characterized as a “cavalier approach towards the rules.”

Fleur Anderson, shadow Cabinet Office minister, told Insider: “This is just the latest in a long line of examples of the Tories demonstrating a cavalier attitude towards the rules.

“Just over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen that the Chancellor has not declared his wife’s shareholdings in a company operating out of Russia. We’ve also seen the Prime Minister’s WhatsApp messages go missing before April 2021, which would have been crucial evidence in the Covid Inquiry.

“This may seem small by comparison, but the rules are unambiguous, and the Tories just can’t seem to abide by them.”

In a separate letter, True wrote that former health minister Steve Brine breached the rules by failing to seek permission from ACOBA before taking a role as a lobbyist paid £20,000-a-year for 8 hours a month for a pharmaceutical firm, Sigma.

As part of his work, Brine organized meetings between the firm and vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi.

The firm later received a £100,000 government contract.

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