Managing Ministers’ and officials’ conflicts of interest: time for clearer values, principles and action Contents

4Interchange between the public and private sector

52.The Business Appointment Rules (The Rules) are intended to govern the nature of post public employment which former senior Ministers and Crown servants can accept within two years of leaving office.67 The Rules are in place to try to address potentially inappropriate conduct of public servants, both while still in public office, and possibly anticipating private-sector employment, or after leaving public office, by exploiting insider knowledge and/or contacts for private gain. This chapter considers the benefits and risks of interchange between the public and private sector–often referred to in the media as the “revolving door”–and how the potential for actual and perceived conflict of interests can be best managed and addressed. This is particularly significant in light of the current political climate which poses ever greater pressures for the Civil Service to recruit private sector specialists.

Benefits and risks

53.Research by the High Pay Centre states that between 2000 and 2014, 600 former Ministers and top level civil servants were appointed to over 1,000 different business roles.68 This flow of personnel between the public and private sector69 is a continued cause for concern arising both from perceived impropriety and actual impropriety that negatively impacts on levels of public trust in the public sector.70 Transparency International told us that this interchange is in principle “a good thing–it enables a sharing of expertise to assist in increasingly complex areas of government activity”.71 Nevertheless, as has been noted in PASC’s previous reports on this topic, if this interchange is not regulated effectively, then it remains open to abuse and this is detrimental to public confidence.72

54.The potential risks of conflict of interest posed by the movement of staff between government and private companies were illustrated in the National Audit Office (NAO) report: Conflicts of Interest, published 27 January 2015.73 The report cites the case of a former Director-General of commissioning at the Department of Health, who became Global Head of Healthcare at KPMG, a company that was bidding for many of the new contracts that were a direct consequence of reforms to the Department of Health. The application was made while the individual was in post as the Director-General of commissioning. ACoBA approved his appointment subject to a three month waiting period and a twelve month ban on lobbying Ministers. His successor also joined KPMG a year later. The successor did not have to seek ACoBA approval as he had only served as “acting” Director-General of Commissioning. However, the DoH gave its approval and imposed the same conditions on him as ACoBA had done in the previous case. KPMG went on to be awarded three NHS related contracts. KPMG stated that “both men had actively observed and fully complied at all times with the restrictions placed on them …”.74

The Ministry of Defence

55.The numbers of former senior officials, military staff and former Ministers who have taken up appointments with arms companies and the security industry has been widely covered in the media over recent years.75 Freedom of Information (FoI) requests made by the Guardian newspaper in 2012 found that 3,500 former senior military officers and Ministry of Defence officials had been approved for arms company jobs since 1996.76 In 2015, the Guardian also reported on the large number employees of arms companies being seconded to positions at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and other parts of government.77 The article highlighted that: “Nine BAE executives were seconded to senior positions in the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support branch, which has a £14 billion annual budget to buy and support equipment used by the Navy, Army and RAF”.78

56.In evidence to PACAC, the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) said the arms industry is “generally considered to have one of the closest relationships with government”.79 In order to increase transparency in this area, CAAT has developed an online browser to capture the meetings that Ministers and civil servants are holding with arms company executives. Through FoI requests, CAAT found that BAE Systems plc alone, (a British multinational defence, security and aerospace company) “enjoyed over 600 meetings” with government officials in recent years.80 It cited one example on its online browser which, following a breakdown in diplomatic relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia “exposed the government resources devoted to helping BAE secure contracts to sell Eurofighter Typhoon jets”.81 It found that “from November 2011, when BAE was invited to pitch to the repressive United Arab Emirates, to December 2013 when negotiations broke down, Susanna Mason, the former Director-General Commercial at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) met with BAE to discuss United Arab Emirates 40 times”.82

Recruiting expertise externally

57.In evidence to our inquiry, Private Eye journalist, Richard Brooks challenged the assumption that interchange between the public and private sectors is a good thing. He highlighted the potential risk of “groupthink” which could result in unchallenged, poor-quality decision-making.83 He said:

There is an assumption that rarely goes challenged that somehow it is a good thing for expertise to be shared, and we need to get expertise in. But I think there is a danger that individual institutions lose their identity, and the healthy tensions you get between regulated and regulator, and between Government Departments that are setting policy and those who are affected by the policy. They ought to be making conflicting arguments, sorting it out between themselves. When you get this continual crossover you end up with groupthink, for one thing. I think that is a big problem.84

58.The Government denies this risk, and it is evident from a number of recent reports, for example, Contracting out Public Services to the Private Sector, published by the Committee of Public Accounts on 14 March 2014, and The Revolving Door and the Corporate Colonisation of UK Politics published by High Pay Centre on 25 March 2015, that the Government is keen to maintain and grow this interchange by recruiting expertise externally, often at great expense to the British taxpayer and - in the case of outsourcing - potentially out of reach of ACoBA’s radar.85 According to an NAO report, the Use of Consultants and Temporary staff, published in May 2015, 47 individuals were being paid more than £1,000 per day as temporary staff.86 We contacted the Cabinet Office on 10 November 2016 to verify if such individuals were subject to the ACoBA rules, and if not, did they deem it necessary to apply appropriate and equivalent exit safeguard rules. The Cabinet Office responded on 28 March 2017 stating that the Rules are not applied to temporary workers and consultants:

The Business Appointment Rules apply to all civil servants, including those employed on fixed term contracts. Regarding temporary workers and consultants, as per the relevant CCS frameworks, we would expect contracts to have clear and robust confidentiality clauses. In addition, all potential suppliers should declare conflicts of interest when responding to requests.87

59.It is also evident from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office report, Future FCO Report, published on 9 May 2016 that temporary staff via secondments in to the FCO will play a major role in the department’s future strategy. The report states that it will establish a new unit to deliver more targeted and better valued secondments in and out, stating: “Secondments, interchange and inward transfer are vital means of injecting the FCO with new ways of thinking, wider networks and important skills”.88 The inclusion of “wider networks” within the FCO’s strategy is very welcome but also suggests that the FCO is looking above and beyond acquiring new skills.

60.The current political climate poses ever greater pressures for the Civil Service to attract expertise from other sectors, particularly those which can support the post EU referendum workload and the requirement for new knowledge and skills, as well as for commercial, digital and other professional knowledge and skills. In addition to this, government reforms to the Civil Service continue alongside an increased reliance on the private sector in the delivery of public services. This shift in public-service delivery has brought recruitment of substantial numbers of contractors and temporary staff in to the Civil Service. Many of these people also contribute to strategy and policy development as well as managing major government contracts. They are gaining considerable inside Whitehall knowledge as they do so.

61.The risk arising from the interchange between the public and private sector is the opportunity it affords to the less scrupulous to conduct themselves in public office in the hope that the people who they are regulating or contracting with, or the relationships they are managing, will somehow prove fruitful to them at a future date.

62.While there is little hard evidence that the movement to the private sector is not conducted appropriately, the present ACoBA regime provides little, if any, assurance on this point. Parts of the private sector wish to recruit former public servants for their relevant knowledge and experience. But it is clearly unacceptable for public servants to use the contacts or experience they acquire in the public sector with the intention of securing a future private gain in this way. It is this possibility which opens them to the suspicion that they may have been conflicted during their time in public office. Nor should it be acceptable for private sector employers to recruit where there is a conflict of interest, since it may create an expectation in those still serving in the public sector that, all things being equal, they can anticipate that they will be treated in the same favourable manner at some future date as a consequence of the current office they hold.

63.The Rules currently do not define when and how a former public servant’s knowledge and experience is considered to be used improperly, and whether or not certain appointments will be acceptable. It has become part of the culture in public life that individuals are entitled to capitalise on their public sector experience when they move into the private sector–the “new normal”–but there is a lack of clear boundaries defining what behaviour is or is not acceptable. The Rules should be amended to include a clearly defined principle that at a minimum, public servants should avoid taking up appointments within a two year time period that relate directly to their previous areas of policy and responsibility when they have had direct regulatory or contractual authority within a particular sector.

64.In Chapter 5, we discuss how the right values, principles and rules concerning the conduct of public servants in office and their future employment beyond the public sector can be better expressed in the Ministerial and Civil Service codes.

65.It is obvious that consultants and temporary staff in Whitehall departments may have access to information which could be of use to private sector employers. The Government’s response to us on this matter is unclear and does not confirm if consultants and temporary workers are subject to the ACoBA rules. The Government must be transparent about how such conflicts of interest are to be managed. If the ACoBA rules are not to be applied, then the Government should publish a code of conduct and a clear set of rules that will apply to temporary workers and consultants working in the public service.

Public trust

66.As part of the ethos of British public service values, all public office holders are expected to uphold Lord Nolan’s Seven Principles of Public Life, which have formed a cornerstone for the development and clarification of general values for the public service in the UK over the last two decades.89 Public trust is undermined when it is perceived that a public servant may not have upheld those Principles and may have placed their personal gain before the public interest.

67.There have been a series of damaging media headlines over the last few years that have only served to challenge and weaken public confidence in ACoBA’s role to regulate the “revolving door”. For example In January 2016, a Daily Mirror investigation reported that 25 former Ministers in the coalition government had taken paid roles in sectors they once oversaw. The list included former Energy Secretary, the Rt Hon Sir Edward Davey, who is now an adviser to MHP Communications, the lobbying firm that conducts the bidding of EDF, the French energy giant to whom Mr Davey awarded the controversial contract for the Hinkley Point C power station.90

68.To take a more recent example, on 20 January 2017, it was widely reported in the media, that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP had accepted a post as an adviser to the BlackRock Institute, part of the BlackRock Investment Group, a global investment management company.91 Mr Osborne complied with the Rules for former Ministers, and referred the case to ACoBA. ACoBA noted in their advice to Mr Obsorne that he had had contact both with BlackRock and with its competitors in the same field, and ACoBA advised Mr Osborne that they had sought reassurance from the Treasury that none of Mr Osborne’s decisions were specific to BlackRock. They also consulted the Treasury Permanent Secretary whether he had any concerns about Mr Osborne taking up this post. ACoBA advised Mr Osborne as follows:

Taking into account the specific facts in this case, in accordance with the Government’s Business Appointment Rules, the Committee advises the appointment be subject to the following conditions:

− you should not draw on (disclose or use for the benefit of yourself or the organisation to which this advice refers) any privileged information available to you from your time in ministerial office; and − for two years from your last day in ministerial office you should not become personally involved in lobbying the UK Government on behalf of Blackrock Investment Institute or any part of the Blackrock group or its clients.92

69.Some media outlets and individuals have challenged the propriety of this appointment, given that, as Chancellor, Mr Osborne will have taken decisions which have a direct effect on the business of BlackRock, and BlackRock even lobbied in favour of such decisions prior to their being taken. In his 2014 Budget speech the former Chancellor stated: “I am announcing today that we will legislate to remove all remaining tax restrictions on how pensioners have access to their pension pots. Pensioners will have complete freedom to draw down as much or as little of their pension pot as they want, anytime they want”.93 The Taxation of Pensions Act 2014 subsequently received Royal Assent on 17 December 2014.94 Following Mr Osborne’s proposed pension reforms, Robert Kapito, President of BlackRock told investors that up to $25 billion of UK pension savings annually now is “money in motion”, thanks to the Government’s decision to remove an effective requirement for pensioners to buy annuity. It added that BackRock was “uniquely positioned because of our multi-asset strategies and our product development specifically tailored to the retirement area.”95 There is no way of knowing whether or not he will “draw on (or disclose or use for the benefit of yourself or the organisation to which this advice refers) any privileged information”.

70.We have taken no evidence with regard to Mr Osborne’s acceptance of the BlackRock appointment and as such cannot make a judgement on his personal conduct at this point. ACoBA has sought reassurances from senior civil servants, and this itself might be thought to be enough to deter a person from accepting such an appointment within the two year restricted period. However, such assurances rely on senior civil servants who themselves may be seeking employment outside the public service, and therefore who will be subject to the same ACoBA process.

71.The only justification for a Minister or civil servant taking public or private sector employment in a field for which they had responsibility is where they might be returning to or continuing to work in an occupation or profession where they already had an established track record and experience. In these circumstances it may still be necessary to impose the maximum cooling-off period.

72.In a less remarked case, Mr Osborne’s former special adviser at HM Treasury, Mr Rupert Harrison, also joined BlackRock. On 28 May 2015, ACoBA approved Mr Harrison’s request for permission to become Managing Director of their Dynamic Diversified Growth, Multi Assets division. In its approval letter, ACoBA said it “had also taken into consideration the fact that HMT supports Mr Harrison’s appointment and does not consider that there are any conflicts of interest or commercially sensitive issues to consider”.96

73.PACAC makes no judgement of the conduct of any of the individuals we mention in this report. However, the cases cited illustrate the point that, as it currently operates, neither the ACoBA process nor the Rules it administers, are sufficiently robust to command public confidence in its advice and decisions, or capable of protecting the reputation of those who have complied with its rules and followed its processes.

74.While drafting this report, it has also been reported that Mr Osborne has accepted the appointment as Editor of the Evening Standard, without waiting for advice from ACoBA. At the time of writing, we await ACoBA’s response to Mr Osborne’s decision to accept this appointment, and whether they believe the appointment would comply with the Business Appointment Rules if they were given time to consider the matter in accordance with the Rules.

75.We disapprove of the announcement of Mr Osborne’s appointment as Editor of the Evening Standard without waiting for ACoBA’s advice. This demonstrates disrespect for ACoBA and for the Business Appointment Rules and sets an unhelpful example to others in public life who may be tempted to do the same. Whilst ACoBA remains a non-statutory body without any power of redress, the system remains open to similar abuses. On this and on the BlackRock appointment, we have invited Mr Osborne to give oral evidence to PACAC in order to explore the details of the abovementioned appointments as part of our scrutiny of the ACoBA system; and we expect our successor Committee in the new Parliament to renew this invitation.

76.The link between the actual integrity of people in public life and changes in public confidence is hard to establish. Since 2004 the Committee on Standards in Public Life has regularly commissioned surveys of public attitudes towards integrity in public life that provides a time-series data of changing attitudes and values toward public institutions and public office holders, but the questions used in such surveys and therefore the data are highly subjective. Rapidly changing public values and attitudes suggests there is little consensus on causality.97 Professor Philp, Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s Research Advisory Board says that “in the UK most people do not have confidence that high standards are maintained in public institutions, and they are sceptical about the efficacy of measures that are in place to enforce standards”.98 He said :

In general regulatory changes probably do not have a direct impact on public attitudes. Nor do reports saying that all is well. What matters is that the institutions are seen to respond quickly, proportionately and effectively, and that institutions responsible for enforcing regulation or advisory codes and standards are seen to act impartially on principles that the public can understand and that they think reasonable.99

77.In response to the question about whether ACoBA commanded extensive public confidence, Baroness Browning said she doubted that many members of the public know that ACoBA exists, and she agreed that this is worrying.100 Professor Philp, Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s Research Advisory Board said that if ACoBA is serious about improving public confidence it needs to realise that it “is most likely seen by many as another case of insiders regulating themselves on the basis of gentlemanly advice”.101 He acknowledges that the public’s expectations are “in some respects unreasonable and often ill-informed” but suggests that “identifying clear, carefully articulated principles and publicly defending them should play a role in informing expectations and public debate”.

78.Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy highlighted a further potential challenge for ACoBA: its lack of powers to proactively investigate those who do not seek ACoBA’s advice. She told us how LinkedIn can prove more informative than the ACoBA website about what jobs former public officials have taken, and she said:

If you have a body where LinkedIn is a more accurate record of what people are doing now in terms of the “revolving door”, then I think there is a very strong argument that that body needs to be changed.102

79.In her evidence to us, Baroness Browning said that they do check LinkedIn but suggested that the key problem is that they “do not have either a remit or the resources to investigate who does not come to us”.

80.It is of great concern to the Committee that websites like LinkedIn may be providing the public with a more accurate record of the “revolving door” than ACoBA. This reinforces the impression that the regulatory system for monitoring post public employment of former public servants allows, and even approves of, appointments being taken up in pursuit of personal gain and contrary to the public interest. This must change. While ACoBA is constituted on the present basis, it should carry such information on its website so it can command public confidence that it knows what is going on.

81.In its current form, ACoBA does not have the remit or resources to investigate those who do not seek their advice or to monitor non-compliance of the Rules. Consequently the system is open to abuse, where former public servants may potentially evade the Rules. In the absence of other reforms, the Government should at the very least furnish ACoBA with sufficient additional resources to investigate and monitor non-compliance with ACoBA rules including those who do not approach ACoBA in the first instance.

Transparency of ACoBA’s decision making process

82.In her appearance before PACAC on 19 April 2016, Baroness Browning told us that since 2012, ACoBA “have done a lot” to ensure greater transparency, including publishing minutes of their meetings four times a year and putting all of their casework on to the ACoBA website, which is now hosted on the Government website.103

83.However, many of our witnesses spoke about a lack of transparency with regard to ACoBA’s decision making process.104 This included, retrospective applications for appointments already taken up, or publicly announced by the future employer ahead of the appointment, and advice from ACoBA that is not published when advising former public servants not to take up an appointment. Unlock Democracy and Spinwatch stated that a quarter of cases that ACoBA dealt with from 2011–12 were “retrospective applications”.105 In their view “it is clear that ACoBA is not always taken seriously”.106

84.Currently, ACoBA only publishes its advice to applicants once an appointment has been taken up. Transparency International suggest that ACoBA should disclose full information about the procedures for assessing applications and the reasons for its judgements.107 They noted that “the current system does not lend itself to building public confidence in the integrity of the UK’s political institutions”.108 They pointed out that trust in government is damaged by appointments that may have the “appearance of impropriety, even if it often remains unclear whether an actual distortion of public policy has taken place”.109 A Private Eye magazine special report on the “revolving door”: Public Servants, Private Paydays comments that, of the 394 jobs for which Ministers have sought clearance since 2010, ACoBA has not publicly refused any.110 Unlock Democracy and Spinwatch told us that this “lack of strong government regulation of business appointments can make it seem like the Government is complicit in public officials exploiting positions”111 with “no tangible consequences” for non-compliance of the Rules.

85.Private Eye journalist, Richard Brooks told us that “former senior officials and their new employers see the process as a mere rubber stamp”.112 In written evidence, he referred to the case of former acting permanent secretary to the Treasury, Sir John Kingman, whose appointment as Chairman of Legal & General was announced on 28 June 2016 by the company, to the Stock Exchange, with personal comment from Sir John before ACoBA had advised on the appointment.113 In its approval letter to Sir John, ACoBA noted that at HMT he “had occasional dealings with Legal & General, including participation in very occasional gatherings of senior insurance executives organised by the Association of British Insurers … .but that the main relationship with HMT had been managed elsewhere in the department”.114

86.In 2012, concerned about senior public servants’ lack of awareness of the Rules and ACoBA’s receipt of retrospective applications, PASC’s Business Appointment Rules report recommended that public sector candidates should be made explicitly aware of the Rules before taking up a post, and at appropriate intervals during their public service career, such as on promotion or when moving between departments.115 The Government accepted these proposals for increased transparency and in addition stated that the Rules should clarify that “retrospective applications will not normally be accepted”.116 Despite this change to the 2014 Rules, it is evident that this Rule continues to be flouted.

87.We commend the Chair of ACoBA for taking steps to improve the transparency of the Committee’s work. However ACoBA does not engender public trust and transparency by publishing its advice to applicants only once appointments are taken up. The advice given can seem opaque and bears little relation to the perceived conflict being addressed, as far as the public is concerned. It is not known how many appointments are not taken up as a consequence of its advice. This is a perverse shortcoming of the whole concept of ACoBA that it’s visible work is seen as giving permission to individuals to take up employment, rather than as enforcing high standards of conduct by being seen to advise against it. It is damaging to the reputation of the public service and of those who subject themselves to the system.

88.The Rules state that retrospective applications will not normally be accepted but it is clear from press coverage that this element of the Rules is meaningless. ACoBA can choose not to accept an application but this does not stop individuals taking up the post regardless of the lack of advice from ACoBA about its propriety. Currently, the only action that the Committee can take in response to a retrospective application is to send a letter conveying its displeasure. This does not instil public confidence in a system that was established to prevent any perceived or actual impropriety that may result from moving between the public and private sector. Ministers and senior civil servants seem complacent about the effect that this has on public confidence in the values of people who lead in politics and in Whitehall.

Transparency in the media

89.In 1995, Lord Nolan proposed that transparency of breaches of the Rules could be exposed by “a free press using fair techniques of investigative journalism”.117 Yet despite extensive media reporting of high profile “revolving door” controversies, and ACoBA’s application approval process–the resulting reputational damage has done little to deter former Ministers from taking up employment in sectors for which they have had dealings while in public office, a trend on the increase, as reported in ACoBA’s latest annual report.118

90.Transparency International UK told us that ACoBA’s “lack of monitoring capacity” means that scrutiny of senior public servants’ post public employment falls to the media who are not always interested in portraying the complexities of cases, “with some media tending to sensationalise the risks and ignore any potential benefits”.119 Richard Brooks however highlighted the challenges that journalists can face in obtaining access to transparent information to enable accurate reporting of any breaches of the Rules:

I have made freedom of information requests to ACoBA for the relevant applications and been refused on the grounds of opening up the process would impair Ministers’ and officials’ cooperation with it. I believe that, on the contrary, it would force applicants to give accurate accounts of their prior involvement with a potential employer for fear of having any misstatements or down-playing of such matters exposed.

91.On 3 November 2015, the Daily Telegraph won a Freedom of Information (FOI) battle to uncover ACoBA advice on taking up private sector work, given to former Prime Minister, Tony Blair. It was reported in 2008 that Tony Blair “would be earning around £2 million a year in his part-time role as adviser to the Wall Street bank JP Morgan”.120 In this recent FOI case, the Final Tier Tribunal (FTT) concluded that:

ACoBA’s reliance on the qualified exemption in section 36 (2) was unreasonable as it failed to take account of the committee chair’s own evidence to Parliamentary committees on the importance of investigative journalism and the “court of public opinion” in helping ensure that Ministers followed the advice it gave on whether they should take up various private sector appointments or work.121

92.The central role of the media in holding former public servants to account, by publishing apparent or actual breaches of the Rules, can in part be attributed to ACoBA’s limited powers and remit to effectively investigate the risk of business appointments and monitor compliance.

93.Whilst Lord Nolan was right to suppose that transparency of breaches in the Rules could and should be exposed by using “fair techniques of investigate journalism”, the media cannot report accurately without access to detailed and accurate information from ACoBA. Nevertheless, it is completely unacceptable to continue to rely on media coverage to expose perceived or actual breaches of the Business Appointment Rules, where all discussions are conducted in public and no sanctions are seen to be imposed. This continued trial by media only serves to further weaken public confidence, and runs the risk of being unjust. The media also have regard to their own commercial interests in pursuing such stories, and therefore cannot themselves claim to be unconflicted. Nor is the “court of public opinion” impartial or objective about such matters, and therefore it cannot be a fair means of applying what should be a matter of public policy.

94.ACoBA should disclose full information about its procedures for assessing applications and the reasons for its judgements. The Committee should also publish applications on receipt, and ahead of the judgements it issues on them, to enable journalists, those who may have had official dealings with the individual, and relevant others, to draw any misrepresentation to the Committee’s attention. ACoBA would then be seen to be doing its job and this would reinforce public confidence in ACoBA and its processes. This would also deter people from making some more tendentious applications, and potential employers from making more tendentious job offers, for fear of the reputational consequences.

69 The movement of personnel between roles as legislators, Ministers, civil servants and regulators, and the industries affected by the government procurement, legislation and regulation.

71 Transparency International UK (ACB02).

72 Noted in the summary of the Public Administration Select Committee’s Third report of Session 2012–13, Business Appointment Rules, HC 404 [incorporating HC 1762–i–v, Session 2010–12].

73 The National Audit Office in their Conflict of Interest report p.4, define a conflict of interest as a set of circumstances that creates a risk that an individual’s ability to apply judgement or act in one role is, or could be, impaired or influenced by a secondary interest. The perception of competing interests, impaired judgement or undue influence can also be a conflict of interest.

75 Private Eye, No. 1426, September 2016, Public Servants, Private Paydays, p.21; The Guardian 16 February 2015; The Guardian 15 October 2012; The Daily Telegraph 15 October 2012; The Daily Telegraph 10 December 2011

79 Campaign Against Arms Trade (ACB01), para 4.

80 Campaign Against Arms Trade (ACB01), para 5.

81 Prior to the findings of the Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry into UK relations with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in 2013, Saudi officials told the BBC they were evaluating their country’s historic relations with Britain. See:, 15 October 2012.

82 Campaign Against Arms Trade (ACB01), para 6.

83 A psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

84 Q 74 [Richard Brooks].

85 Committee of Public Accounts, Contracting out public services to the private sector, Forty Seventh Report of Session 2013–14, HC 777 [Incorporating HC 791, of Session, 2013–14] p 9; High Pay Centre, The Revolving Door and the corporate colonisation of UK Politics, p.30.

86 National Audit Office, Use of Consultants and Temporary Staff, HC 603, Session 2015–16, 13 January 2016.

87 Cabinet Office (ACB15).

88 Future FCO Report, 31 March 2016, p.24.

89 The Seven Principles of Public Life, known as the Nolan Principles, were set out by Lord Nolan in 1995. They set out the ethical standards expected of public office holders and are included in the Ministerial Code.

90 In a special report; Public Servants, Private Paydays (16 September 2016), p.6, Private Eye highlighted an approved ACoBA application by Dave Hartnett in 2013, former Permanent Secretary of HMRC, to take up an appointment with HSBC as a member of their ‘financial systems vulnerabilities’. Private Eye reported that Hartnett had met “the bank half a dozen times to discuss the Swiss tax evasion scandal yet the approval letter for this job said his HSBC contacts were no more significant than the contacts he had with other banks operating in the UK”.

94 House of Commons library standard note SN7036. Taxation of Pensions Bill 2014–15, debates in Parliament.

95 The Financial Times, 18 April 2014, Black Rock Challenges UK pension providers–9839–00144feabdc0

99 Committee on Standards in Public Life (ACB07) 4.1

101 Committee on Standards in Public Life (ACB07), point 5.4.

102 Q2 [Alexandra Runswick]

103 Oral evidence taken before the Public Admisistration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, 19 April 2016, Q 87 [Baroness Browning].

104 UK Open Government Civil Society Network (ACB03), point 17; Campaign Against Arms Trade (ACB01),
point 9.

105 The Government amended the Rules in 2014 to make clear that retrospective applications will not normally be accepted; Unlock Democracy and Spinwatch (ACB06), point 12.

106 Unlock Democracy and Spinwatch (ACB06), point 6.

107 Transparency International UK (ACB02), Key recommendations, point 3.

108 Transparency International UK (ACB02).

109 Transparency International UK (ACB02).

110 Private Eye, 16 September 2016, Public Servants, Private Paydays, p.1, N.B: ACoBA may occasionally advise that a post is unsuitable, however we do not know how often this occurs as this information is not currently publicly available.

111 Unlock Democracy and Spinwatch (ACB06).

112 Richard Brooks (ACB0005), point 6.

115 The Public Administration Select Committee, Business Appointment Rules, Third Report of Session 2012–13, 25 July 2012, HC 404 [incorporating HC 1762–i–v, Session 2010–12], p.14; para 41.

119 Transparency International UK (ACB02).

Section 36 (2) provides an exemption if disclosing the information would be likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or would be likely to prejudice the effective conduction of public affairs.

21 April 2017